Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
The key function of marketing is to underpin building of a profitable business – and you need to focus on customers to build sustainable business growth, author and chairman of MarketCulture, Dr Linden Brown, said.
Here are four pillars to achieving customer experience success.
1. Understand the immediacy of customer-centricity
Speaking at the Australian Marketing Institute’s Customer Experience Summit 2016 in Sydney, Dr Brown stressed one of the biggest impediments to profitable growth and revenue generation is the culture that surrounds us.
“There is something missing in marketing, and that’s customer culture,” he said. “Forrester research conducted a few years ago indicated 91 per cent of companies said they were customer-focused, but when they asked the customers, only 10 per cent of them actually agreed. Now that’s a huge gap. But to bridge that gap is a great opportunity.”
In the age of social media, customer expectations are also changing in terms of what their needs are and what they think they want now and for the future, he claimed.
“This movement has created an immediacy for a customer-centric approach to doing business,” he said. “As marketers, we are now expected to become more involved in generating superior and more profitable customer experiences.”
2. Embrace the mantra: What’s best for the customer is best for the business
Dr Brown suggested marketers think of a customer-centric culture as the mantra that what’s best for the customer is best for the business.
“Customers don’t just buy the product, they want the whole experience – and Apple is a great example of a company that offers that,” he said.
“Other disruptors like AirBnB and Uber are also making their mark by focusing on great customer experience. Another icon example would be Amazon, which from the start was about being customer centric on a global level – and the company had a big vision.”
3. Disrupt the competition
A good example of a successful company using a customer-centric culture to not only achieve sustainable business growth but also to disrupt its competitors is Australian startup, Naked Wines, Dr Brown said.
“In Australia, 65 per cent of wines are sold through liquor chains owned by the likes of Woolworths and Coles, so it’s kind of a duopoly marketplace,” he said. “But with that model, the pressure goes back to the vineyards to produce high-quality wine and lower prices and lower margins. As a result, many of the boutique vineyards with a lot of history,were getting squeezed out.”
According to Dr Brown, Naked Wines saw an opportunity in this system to find a way to help the wine growers fund their vintage and get reasonable margins on good wines via ‘angel investors’ – where customer memberships essentially crowdfund the production of the wine.
“This is a business that connects vineyards and wine growers with consumers direct,” he said. “The business model creates viability for the winegrowers, but there’s also a personal connection customers have with the vineyard.
“The company essentially took the disenfranchised wineries and the disenfranchised customers and brought them together via an online business, where there is a real connection and relationship. As a result, Naked Wines is now a $30 million business with three operations – one in Sydney, one in the US and one in the UK and growing.”
4. Empower through collaboration
Dr Brown said companies that encourage collaboration across the business in order to create a unified and targeted approach achieve greater customer experience outcomes.
“It’s about collaborating with a focus on creating great customer experiences that is sustainable and profitable,” he continued. “Take Ikea, for example. The company maintains a strong set of values around collaboration. In fact, the whole collaboration element of working together to create value for customers is such a strong value Ikea, they are prepared to fire superstars who are not prepared to collaborate.
“Starbucks is another example where it has developed a whole relationship over the coffee business – creating an environment where those customer relationships could develop and prosper.”