The mantra of “the customer is always right” dates back to the early 20th century, with its roots stemming from early department store magnates’ business philosophies. And while the phrase has been used repeatedly in the decades since through various industries, it perhaps has never been truer than it is in the marketing discipline today.
So the approach has clearly evolved over time from its origins in retail, and adapted to new offerings, technologies, and needs – but what hasn’t changed is the importance of keeping customers where they belong…at the forefront of all you do. Rather than simply saying the customer is still always right, it is perhaps a stronger, and more precise strategy to say your marketing organization is now customer-centric.
This involves a transition from a “go with your gut” marketing methodology to one that is data-driven. That’s because such marketing relies on learning from and activating against signals that your customer is giving you. Ultimately, this is about building up individual-level data that you translate into actionable insights, which leads to actionable growth.
The shift to customer-centric marketing requires an evolutionary transformation of your people, processes, and technologies. Connecting the dots to improve your customers’ experiences can be a complex endeavor, including multiple touchpoints, siloed data, existing marketing processes, and the coordination of messaging in omnichannel environments. Don’t look at this as overwhelming, though; consider it an opportunity to step up your game when approached in the right way.
1. Get acquainted with your customer, inside and out.
In practice, customer-centric marketing means marketing to an individual, not to a device or cookie. The first step is to aggregate and activate against all of your customer inputs across first- second- and third-party data. Said another way, work on bolstering your single view of the customer. That view should be used not only to measure marketing efficacy, but also for optimization, activation, and predictive analytics.
2. It’s never too early for feedback.
Your customers’ opinions are more important than your own when it comes to shaping the details of your offering. Bring them in from day one, and make their perspectives part of the founding principles. Watch how they engage with the product or solution, and then adapt your direction around what they do to solve problems they care about.
3. Understand the journey.
Having grasped your typical prospects’ behaviors and their moments of truth puts you in an excellent position to understand their needs at each stage of their journey. This involves making yourself useful to your customer at times when they might not have thought to ask for your help. Brainstorm with your team ways to touch prospects positively to add-value during their buying cycle that demonstrate your ability to:
- Understand their needs
- Provide value-added service at little cost to yourself
- Make the customer feel valued
- Build trust
4. Don’t be afraid to break the mold.
Remember, just because it’s the way it has always been done, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better – more customer friendly way. Listening to the true needs of your clients may require thinking outside the box, and demonstrating a new level of flexibility, but these details can also set your organization, brand, and offerings apart from the rest.
5. Enable sales with information, content, and tools.
Sales may be too busy selling to develop the content that they require, but once the customer needs are understood, then marketing will be able to put compelling and effective content and tools in place to help enable sales to earn the right to close future deals through investing in building consistently good quality relationships.
These five tips can point you in the right direction when it comes to being a more customer-centric, and ultimately successful, organization. If you require some guidance in developing the right resources to effectively represent your brand and reach your target, a marketing partner with expertise in a customer-centric approach may be what your business needs in order to put an updated, yet enduring “customer is always right” mindset (and with good reason!) to work for you.