At present, there is a lot of talk about a new type of consumer who has emerged most market sectors due to the widespread use of smartphones and increased access to the internet, that is to say, the digital consumer. Although most often identified with the Millennial generation, this type of customer also includes other age groups, the kind who won’t leave the house without their smartphone in hand.
As a group, these digital customers are much more demanding in terms of what they consume. When making purchasing decisions, they are constantly looking for a product to supersede expectations of quality, speed and customizability.
Consequently, businesses have evolved to suit their needs. According to a recent report by Econsultancy, an outfit specializing in marketing and ecommerce, when answering the question as to what the most common characteristics of digitally-aspiring companies are, the answers are consumer centrality (58%), advanced data usage (40%) and a capacity for innovation (28%).
How to develop a strategic plan focused on the customer
This post is also available in Spanish.
In this blog we have already looked at how to approach a company’s digital transformation, noting the importance of basing change around the customer’s needs. In this post, we take a look at the previous steps necessary to actually developing a customer-centric strategy, as well as creating a company culture that can both deploy and maintain it.
A. LEADERSHIP AND ALIGNMENT OF ALL TEAM MEMBERS
Get the support of management
Any attempt to initiate a customer-focused strategy in a company requires the support of senior management. Such a profound evolution of the company’s orientation cannot take place without the commitment of the entire organization. It is also important to assign a leader to manage any changes, and surround him or her with a team of user experience experts whose soft skills include empathy, a proactive nature and an ability to work independently.
Foster cross-departmental collaboration
As soon as a company develops and implements a customer-focused strategy, it is necessary to establish cross-departmental collaboration, regardless of which particular department actually takes the lead. It may therefore be appropriate to designate team leaders in all departments to act as spokespeople.
B. GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
The next step is to get feedback from customers around whom the new strategy will be centered. To do this, traditional methods such as surveys work very well; make use of the technological tools at your fingertips as they offer great options to maintain a close relationship with consumers – through a company’s social networks for example, or adding a Chat function to the company’s website.
C. PREPARE THE STRATEGY
Start designing your strategic, customer-focused plan
Once the preliminary steps are completed, it is time to start developing the actual strategy, which, depending on the company, can result in fewer or greater steps, one particular technological tool or another, as well as require more or less calendar time. In any case, any plan must be able to answer two fundamental questions:
- Is your company making every effort to offer the best possible customer experience?
- What can you do to exceed expectations?
A strategy that answers both questions is diametrically opposed to the traditional approach that would tend to analyze consumer “patterns”, in terms of the demand for products and services, rather than base any company-wide change on the specific and explicit needs of its customers.
After establishing a development strategy, a key to successful implementation is to ensure the entire team’s active involvement. It’s not just the plan’s promoters who should be getting in on the action: the whole organization needs to know what the plan is, as well as review and even nurture it with their own ideas. Once implemented, the plan should be updated regularly with any new additions or updates, with a clear idea of how to move forward.
As with any process of change, it is vital from the outset to use KPIs to measure results, see whether they were expected and determine if and how the original plan should be revised.
Essentially, any strategy for change should see an organization ready to put the consumer at the heart of its decision-making process and establish a genuine and sincere customer service culture that lives up to the highest expectations.
This post is also available in Spanish.