Who are my most valuable customers in the future?

Gartner recently came out with a study that said 89% of executives believe that the primary battleground they are fighting to win now is customer experience. Leveraging real-time data, we can see that the companies delivering more intuitive, personalized, contextualized experiences are winning the relevance battle in the market place. These firms have mastered creating living brand experiences in moments that matter most to their customers.

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.

- Steve Jobs

Savvy, digitally-enabled consumers expect great brand experiences online, in-store and after purchase. Many companies are solving experience problems in both digital and physical environments that delight customers in new ways. Yet, others are still scrambling to keep experiences consistent and on message across channels, markets and lines of business. And, while messaging was once clearly under the control of marketing, the responsibility for experience – which now requires help from many disciplines – is diffused, owned and driven by different departments. As a result, the overall customer experience is still disjointed; companies recognize how critical it is for growth, but struggle to deliver.

Customer Experience

Customers more and more are not just buying stuff, but they are buying into stuff, which generally starts with a strong brand purpose and an even stronger organizational culture and capability to perform that can pay off that brand purpose. Specifically, we see four customer-driven focus areas that are required ingredients for business success:

1. Customer obsessed

Today’s corporate priorities are centered squarely on the customer. Companies must work tirelessly to entrench themselves in costumer’s lifestyles and endeavors. Customers have high expectations of consistency. That requires teams of experts from across the organization to work together.

2. Ruthlessly pragmatic

Companies must do whatever it takes to be there for their customers. They are laser focused on the customer, using technology and data analytics to target, serve and customize products and experiences for a highly segmented customer base.

3. Pervasively innovative

Brands that are constantly shape-shifting to stay ahead of technological changes and consumer trends. Instead of thinking at customer at each touchpoint, they genuinely understanding them. They use technology to be more human, creating new experiences to engage with people in ways that enrich their lives.

4. Distinctively inspired

Companies with strategic purpose that creates shared value inspire people, both internally and externally. These brands know who they are, moving beyond positioning and into purpose. They are centered on a strategic purpose that creates shared value. This brand purpose is the fundamental binding agent between assets and aspirations of the business and customers’ motivations. That ignites innovation and growth, and also allows the company to inspire, attract and retain the best talent.

How Businesses Can Evolve

It is no longer enough to stop at offering excellent products or services: the real focus must be on the overall experience that the customer has with the brand. Relentlessly relevant brands engage, surprise and connect. They are genuinely modern, finding new ways to delight and deliver. They push themselves to earn and re-earn customers’ loyalty—and they continually redefine what’s possible.

No business can escape the ever-rising bar of customer experience: Online, offline, in retail or in B2B, once a customer has been won over by an experience like Spotify, Amazon or Netflix, they want to know why all transactions aren’t as satisfying. From travel to consumer goods to business transactions, customers expect to be recognized, heard and taken care of. They are demanding personalized and automated experiences.

Building a relentlessly relevant brand starts with three essential commitments.

1. Customer service

To compete in a global marketplace with shifting demographics, even today’s best-in-class companies require a deeper, multi-dimensional understanding of their customers. Hyper customer-centricity brings the customer into sharper focus through the use of advanced data analytics and smart technologies to track and anticipate consumer behavior in near-real time and deliver personalized products and experiences when, where and how the customer wants them.

2. Personalization

Companies need to engage customers through living brand experiences. Brands that are relentlessly relevant are those that enlarge the universe and engage customers in a living brand experience. That means constant, real-time engagement between customers and brand stewards, giving companies the ability to anticipate, adapt and respond in the context of customers’ lives. It’s what allows brands to create offers that are highly personalized, to leverage data in a way that extends experiences and relationships within customers’ lives and to combine human empathy with tech-enabled intelligence. As a result, every interaction delivers greater business impact. They understand that what they offer people needs to embrace the head and the heart, intelligence and emotion, data and story, and strategy and empathy.

3. Omnichannel

Successful companies seamlessly integrate all functions, enabled by digital technology and with the customer at the center. Organizations must transform both their experience design and their delivery architecture, operating with experience centricity from the inside-out and the outside-in. The omni business model takes omnichannel to the next level by enhancing it with customer-centricity for sensing real-time demand at a granular level and demand-driven supply chains that can quickly pivot to meet changing needs. The optimal structure is fully integrated with the front-end of the business and possesses the flexibility and agility to react to constant change in customer needs and market dynamics.

Final thoughts

Relentlessly relevant brands are growing, thriving brands. They have a meaningful role in their customers’ lives and one they need to earn each day. This is why they use purpose as the north star, engage with customers through living brand experiences and power brands from the inside through company culture. These brands are learning all the time; it’s what helps them stay relevant, find new customers, and continually reinvent themselves for the future.

Is your industry being disrupted by relentless brands? Is it time for your company to get off the sideline and put the customer at the center of the business? Contact Upside Digital to learn how we can help your organization to succeed in the digital era.

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