For a customer, interacting with a brand – from discovery to purchase – is a vastly different journey to what it once was, writes KPMG's brand and marketing expert Carmen Bekker.
Customer centricity is a term that spins around in marketing circle when companies seek to improve their bottom line. It is more than just marketing spin. Being able to track and understand the micro journey of individual customers provides a competitive edge. Questions like, “How did the customer hear about you? How and why did they come to you? Are they being offered alternatives through digital marketing?” offer key insights and help you understand their motivations and their journey. Being able to answer these questions is the key to thriving.
Today, the companies who have the most focus on their customers are the ones achieving the greatest success. It is absolutely critical for businesses to have a plan of action to learn more about their customer base, the expectations they have of the customer experience and the brands they interact with.
There are many ways to improve customer centricity. Embracing technology in the right way is one of the most important. Mass personalisation, or personalisation at scale, is an example of that.
Another way to employ technology is to use it to remove friction in the customer journey. Automation is a perfect example – even though it is wrongly viewed as a mere money-saving practice by some. For example, Amazon Go, a supermarket where cameras track who is taking what off the shelves, eliminates the need for cashiers and all the lines and frustrations that come with them. This allows the store staff to be focused entirely on assisting the needs of the customer. Automation can complement human service and help make it the very best it can be.
But no matter how frictionless a customer’s experience with a business may be, they will not become long-term patrons if they have no sense of who the company is – or worse – have a negative perception of the company.
Australian consumers are looking to engage with businesses that have integrity. Factors like transparency and trustworthiness help convey integrity but ultimately are not enough. Consumers need to know that the brand exists for a reason; that it has a mission and core values it intends to abide by. Your customers (and even more importantly, your staff) should be able to tell you why your company is helping society.
Making your employees your brand ambassadors is key to satisfying this aspect of customer centricity. Businesses with the highest-rated employee experience also have the highest-rated customer experience – and employees will be happy if their work feels like it has meaning beyond maximising shareholder returns.
Focusing on employees to better centre your business around the customer may sound back to front – but there are many good examples.
Our Customer Experience Excellence Report shows that global organisations are providing superior customer experiences more consistently than Australian ones. Over the next five years, that must change.
Carmen Bekker is an advisory partner in customer brand and marketing at KPMG.