We’ve now entered the age of the connected customer. Where customers are taking back ownership over their personal data, placing their trust in one another and expecting more flexibility and greater value from the companies they do business with.

In the past, companies enjoyed a monopoly on information, willingly or even unwittingly trading customer loyalty for it. The more they got to know their customers, the bigger their profits grew. But today consumers have wised up to this game and are incredibly reluctant to cede control of the data they own.

According to Forrester; “Clients are 65-90% of the way through the purchase decision process before they contact your firm”. What gets clients to this point is their need for reliable, helpful content they can use to help solve their problems and to exploit opportunities.

Providing your prospects with free, valuable and educational content that helps them solve one or more problems is one of the best ways to lay a great foundation towards trusting, connected and loyal customer relationships. And the more valuable content you can provide with no obligation, the better your chances of building that trust, connection and loyalty.

So, yes. Content is king. But customers don’t just want content. They want answers–fast! And if you can’t provide answers and solutions instantly and in an engaging way, they’ll take matters into their own hands and do the research themselves – often via your competitors.

Although valuable content and helping clients achieve customer success and is no mean feat, it’s become vitally important, as technology has evolved, and consumers’ expectations of businesses have altered dramatically, that you’re seen to be catering towards these expectations.

Some of which include:

1. Instant gratification

Instant gratification refers to the temptation and need to get results and outcomes ‘right now’. Traditionally, instant gratification has been linked to the resulting tendency to forego a future benefit in order to get a less rewarding but more immediate benefit.

Despite the strides many companies have tried in making this possible, many have failed. However, there are steps companies can take to cater for instant gratification, and therefore remove any friction between the customer’s expectations and their brand’s ability to deliver. And it all starts with understanding the customer completely:

Companies can achieve this by using the right technology and systems that allow them to analyse and segment customer data and combine it with other sources of data on consumer journeys, behavioural trends, industry innovations, economic factors and governmental regulations that can affect their business decisions and in turn their customer experience.

Armed with a holistic view of their customers, companies can now engage with them individually rather than in broad segments – by tailoring products and services to their specific needs and deliver them seamlessly and in real time.

 

2. On-demand delivery

On-demand delivery is a form of product and service delivery that allows the customer to:

The on-demand world is about using the most economical way to meet customer demand, sometimes even by changing the rules of how customers receive and consume your products or services.

Two great examples of companies that deliver superbly on-demand include Netflix and Uber. Both companies will deliver when a customer wants it and at their schedule, not the company’s, and at a click of a button.

Being able to do this requires an agile and flexible supply chain driven by smart and sustainable business models and digital transformation as the backbone.

 

3. Subscription economy

In the digital age, the subscription economy has become an expected norm. This economy is based on the recurring revenue from customers who pay for access to digital content, services and even products. Customers now expect to:

In the past, businesses operated on a onetime transaction basis. They would sell a product or service and that would be the end of the relationship with the customer. This model is no longer sustainable in the digital age. The subscription economy has transformed the way businesses operate and has created a new set of customer expectations. Businesses must now adapt and focus on creating long-term customer relationships.

This requires businesses to provide excellent customer service and to constantly innovate in order to stay ahead of the competition.

 

4. Product, service and customer experience personalization

Personalization for customers is when a company tailors its products, services, and customer experiences to the individual customer’s preferences. This can be done through customizing the product itself, offering different services based on customer needs, or creating unique customer experiences that are tailored to the individual.

In today’s competitive marketplace, it is essential for companies to stand out from their competitors by offering a personalized experience to their customers. Companies do this in order to create a more intimate relationship with their customers, as well as to increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. One other way companies do this is by allowing customers to customize the product itself.

Example 1: Mercedes-Benz allows you to choose several customization and configuration options when you’re building your car. With their new MANUFAKTUR label, you have access to exclusive features, painting choices, and interior colours, to name a few.

Example 2: in 2015 already, Nike launched NIKEiD, an online service that allows customers to create and personalise their own gear by customizing colour, design and performance features to get their gear exactly as they want it.

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5. Protect customer data

Despite the dizzying array of options available to customers, many remain hesitant about switching from one brand to another, especially with sharing personal information with yet another entity.

Why? Well, many consumers still mistrust the brands with which they share their personal information – believing that there is too high a risk of having their personal information exposed or misused. They worry a lot about how their data will be used. And their scepticism is not unfounded.

Despite billions being spent in advertising each year touting the benefits of sharing personal information,

As such, organisations are continuing to lose their customer’s trust.

 

How can brands overcome their customer’s mistrust?

Warren Buffett says the following about building trust: “Trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy. And trust is built not just on what you say, but what you do.”

This means companies need to build trust in their brands through actions by:

Courage to act means using the data for its intended purpose. For instance, if a customer contacts their bank, a business or a government department with a complaint; customers want to feel reassured that the organisation will use the data they have on them to solve complaints right away, or as quickly as can be reasonably expected.

Brands can also overcome the customer’s mistrust through action, by showing how their customer and shopping experience will be improved. Don’t just say it – prove it.

This means providing customers with choice, and choice that is based on the information they have previously provided to enable:

 

Where to from here?

In our connected world, customers are taking back ownership of their personal data by being smart about what information they allow companies access to on websites, social media and apps.

Simultaneously, because of the changes and expectations mentioned above and the new normal driven primarily by Covid-19, we’re all feeling even more disconnected.

Essentially, we’re facing a crisis of disconnection:

We feel disconnected from one another, from the people we work with and from the companies we do business with. Sadly, many are not sure how to make things better.

To make matters worse; globalisation has broad the world’s competitors right to our doorstep and competing for our local customers – making the efforts of growing a business feel nearly impossible.

This means the point solutions and playbooks that worked in the last decade are making things worse and creating a higher degree of disconnectedness. This is primarily because those solutions and playbooks are focused on attracting customers and creating transactional relationships, and not on meaningfully connecting with customers.

 

So, how do you solve this crisis of disconnection?

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You focus on delivering more of what your customers actually want:

When you focus on building meaningful connections with your customers and people, you can grow better and stay connected.

To achieve this, you need a Connected Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform that provides more than just software and helps you create deeper, more meaningful relationships with your customers.

HubSpot’s Connected CRM Platform empowers you to tackle the crisis of disconnection by shifting your focus from connecting data and systems to building deeper, more durable connections with and between customers — all at a better value to your business.

HubSpot is designed to help you:

Deeper connections, happier customers, better value.

See below for access to a FREE HubSpot CRM account. And if you already have HubSpot, click here to book a FREE consultation to discuss how we can help you get better connected.

KK Diaz

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