by Cory Treffiletti, Featured Contributor, November 9, 2016
Being customer-centric is a buzzworthy topic these days. Every company pays lip service to being customer-centric, but in most cases it is simply that: lip service. Most companies simply come up short.
Customer-centricity is easy to talk about and hard to do. First off, you have to listen to your customer. Most brands are too busy talking at their audience and pretending to know what they want without taking a breath to hear. It’s also true that many brands don’t have the tools in place to listen, much less act on the input and feedback they should be gathering. Lastly, most brands don’t speak the same language as their customer; they speak “product” rather than “benefit.”
Most customers are focused, rightly so, on their objectives. The best brands are aware of that, and can harness that mindset to deliver a message that aligns with the needs of the audience.
To do so means an ongoing discovery plan must be in place. You have to be constantly gathering insights from your audience — and listening to the voice of the customer is only one way to do that. Over time their needs can change, and you have to be listening to catch the shift.
It should also be noted that customers may say one thing with their voices, but behaviors can speak even louder. Browsing behavior, understanding the customer journey, listening in social media — these are all avenues to glean additional insights that may get lost when you simply ask.
How many times has someone asked you to name your favorite band or song, and you can’t think of the songs you have in high rotation when you’re at the gym or driving your car? You come up with a list on the spot, but so many times later you will recall one you should have mentioned but forgot.
You can ask your customer what criteria are important to them in the decision-making process and they may come up with a few, but they will undoubtedly miss something. That something could be surfaced if you were privy to the online behavior of that audience and could attach it to their journey down the path to purchase.
Of course having access to the data and the tools required to harness the power of those insights is but one element of the equation. You also have to stop talking in your own language and you have to mimic the voice of the customer.
Too often a marketing team, and I am guilty of this as well, will focus on the product speak — the speeds and feeds rather than the needs — to tell their story. Your audience doesn’t really care about these things, and they really don’t need to know them.
The best analogy I can make here is that consumers are like airline travelers. When I get on a plane I really don’t care to know how the plane flies or the speed we are traveling or the drag or any of the details around the engine. I simply want to know that I will take off in one location and land in another safely, on time and with enough cushion to get to my meeting successfully. If that happens, then I’m happy. The speeds and feeds are not necessary, but satisfying my needs is.
If you listen, and you can identify and recognize customers when you see them, and if you can speak their language and deliver the story in a way that resonates and solves their problem rather than talking about yourself, you win. If you don’t do these things, then you run the risk of speaking to yourself or not resonating with your target. When that happens, you open the door to your competitors and the ability for them to speak in a language your customers understand.
Are you speaking to yourself? Are you speaking speeds and feeds and avoiding needs?