Consumer Trends in the Retail Industry: The Power of the Disgruntled Consumer
By Alex JonesOct 17th
Published August 10th 2016
Around the turn of the decade, society gradually moved into the age of the customer. A few years later and this revolution is in full swing, we see examples of the shift everywhere. The increased availability of information, the ease of availability, and the amount of choice has empowered consumers like never before.
While this change has been marked by the explosion of available information to consumers, that information increase has not been matched in the other direction. The information available to brands about their customers is fragmented.
Most brands cannot pull up a database of their customers and be able to see all of the information they know about them.
The information is out there, but it is too splintered. Brands are unable to join a customer database with a social one, and so on.
While 90% of marketers believe having a single customer view is important, only 6% have achieved it. Poor data quality, siloed departments, and the ability to link different technologies are all challenges to implementing this holy grail.
So if brands are unable to implement a single customer view right now, what else can they do in the age of the empowered customer?
The marketer’s dream is to know as much as possible about individual customers, to use that data to better answer their needs. Combining different data sets, including social data, can surface audience insights that are targeted to specific segments of consumers.
To begin with, develop accurate buyer personas that go beyond assumptions. Understand your audience segments to target and provide for them more efficiently.
Brands need to use these personas to become customer-centric. Putting the customer’s experience at the heart of every department, and ensure that the customer is delighted at every opportunity.
Each factor that has contributed to the dawn of the age of the customer is an opportunity to improve the customer experience. The connectedness of today’s customer means that if you can nail this, word of mouth will spread the knowledge.
Broadcasting at consumers no longer works when they chose when and where to access content. The rise of adblockers, on-demand TV and social sites that personalize the content we receive have all contributed to this.
This has created one of the hallmarks of the age of the customer; it’s harder for brands to get attention. Brands have always produced content. The increase in content marketing is really about creating content that the audience wants to consume and share.
This means really knowing your customers and undertaking research to understand the content they read, the topics they talk about and jumping in at the right time to offer value.
Meanwhile, our collective appetite for social media knows no bounds. But the algorithm changes that have reduced organic reach on social networks mean even followers of a brand will only see a tiny proportion of their content.
The rise of streaming services means TV adverts don’t have the impact they once did. Ad-blockers reduce the visibility of banner adverts.
Promotion strategies need to be varied, and multi-platform. One of the most effective ways involves using influencers to spread your message. Messages from these individuals are more trusted and less likely to feel quite so interrupting.
While social media has created a lot of the issues brands face in the age of the customer, it can also provide answers. Organic online conversations can be mined for product feedback, and to improve the shopping experience. This type of feedback can be difficult or costly to unearth by other methods.
There is a lot of data out there that testifies to how important good customer service is. The traditional view is that great customer care will stop your customers from churning.
Nowadays, you can go beyond keeping existing customers happy and use great social media customer service as a marketing tool.
Customer service is now a spectator sport. Delivering exceptional care that goes above and beyond the call of duty can help you win new customers while making advocates of existing ones.
It’s also possible to use customer service as a form of lead generation. In our recent Bookatable interview, Chris Tilsed revealed how he uses social intelligence to offer helpful information to people asking the Twittersphere for advice. This doesn’t necessarily come in the form of recommending their own brand.
Another big factor in the age of the customer is the proliferation of review sites. Customers now do a lot of research before contacting vendors.
If you are putting the customer first you should have fewer complaints anyway, but it’s inevitable that some events people won’t be happy with the service.
Responding to negative reviews can actually increase engagement positively. You should also be monitoring reviews and feedback for repeated complaints, so you can address the underlying issue.
Marketing in the age of the customer means understanding your audience, segmenting the consumer base and tailoring your approach to each one. They should be delighted at every turn, whichever segment they are in. Using an enterprise social intelligence tool like Brandwatch can inform changes at various stages of the buyer journey.