Your best tactic in catching up with the future consumer? Speed and proactivity.
Speed and agility in today’s business landscape can ensure your brand is trending and your products or services are going viral. But, big businesses find making a quick call challenging – because most of them are working with outdated business systems that don’t speak to each other. How are executives at these organisations expected to make sound decisions if they’re working with obsolete technology?
Change is inevitable, particularly technological change, no matter what line of business you’re in and it doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your business operations – if you’re prepared for it.
DK Matai, chairman of mi2g, ATCA, and The Philanthropia says that key to his success in dealing with change – at an individual and at an organisational level – hinged on his willingness to accept change and to respond at lightning speed.
As consumers are given more choices when it comes to connecting with businesses though omni-channel platforms, they’re going to become more discerning about which companies to support.
Here’s how to thrive in a market that’s becoming saturated by technology:
While the building of strong relationships is vital to maintaining them through change and disruption, as an established company you may find that relationships have turned into shackles. This means your flexibility is limited, leading to active inertia. When everything changes, it’s easier for your customers to change than it is for you.
“The key to business today is transparency. You have to be open – with your team, your suppliers and your customers,” says Andre Eikmeier, co-founder and joint CEO of Vinomofo. “You have to listen to them, and you have to learn what they want, what they need.”
In the age of AI, when chatbots seem like the simplest and quickest way to get through customer queries and requests, don’t undervalue the power of the human touch. Embracing technology doesn’t have to mean losing touch with the people buying your products.
Avoid traditional marketing strategies
The tech-savvy consumer is not only digitally equipped to see through your pricing, but your tried- and-trusted sales techniques are also wasted on them. Soft-selling is more authentic, and since today’s consumer favours transparency, training your salesforce to provide unbiased information is a step in the right direction – even if it sends potential customers in a different direction, this time.
“While traditional marketing strategies have relied on inundating clients with as much information as possible and being aggressive on the selling front, a soft-selling approach can be more effective in delivering valuable information to customers,” says Gary Tramer, co-founder of LeadChat.
By actually informing and educating potential clients during the buying process, you’re making the customer experience more about them. This will most likely lead to increased customer loyalty.
The consumer has outpaced businesses when it comes to how they use technology to make purchase decisions. Companies are now reacting to demand versus driving it. Mastering the collection of actionable data on every customer can help you predict their preferences in a way that strengthens long-term brand loyalty and drives continuous sales.
Be receptive to feedback
Asking customers to give their opinion on a new product or range is one way of drawing their attention – actually applying those suggestions into tangible changes is another. Even when recommendations are unsolicited, it’s important that your customers, and other consumers yet to interact with your brand, know that you hear them. Otherwise, you can expect them to move to a provider who does; most likely your competitor.
“The number one thing any company can do is to listen to their customers,” says Andy Crawley, co-founder and Director at Jack Media. “They will tell you what they want, what they’re happy with and how you can improve.”
Heeding and actioning feedback from customers opens up new channels of conversation – not only between your company and is clients, but with buyers and sellers. This is one of the most valuable ways you can respond to consumer needs.
Stay on top of trends
Adapt or die isn’t just a cliché urging you to adopt new ways of doing business or lose even the most loyal of customers. Ask Kodak, Nokia and BlackBerry. Even McDonald’s suffered the effects of legacy systems not so long ago. The bigger you are, the harder it’s believed you’ll respond to trends – and by the time you do, your customers have already migrated to the competition.
“Take a look at other industries; look at what’s working and what customers are looking for,” suggests Gen George, founder of OneShift. “It’s a way of seeing if we can take any crazy ideas from one business and replicate them in an innovative way in our own industry.” She uses analytics and user feedback to continuously tighten the buying journey.
Staying ahead of well-researched customers requires constant cognisance of emerging markets and trends, to anticipate and respond accordingly to their needs.
Focus on more than your competition
When forecasting and anticipating your customers’ next move, it’s vital to be aware of your industry and not just what your counterparts are offering.
“The long-term advantage lies with those organisations that focus on the environment as a whole and not just on the competition,” says Matai. “It’s not by competing for market share but by capitalising on change that today’s organisations can survive, achieve sustainability and thrive.”
While increasing your customer base through drawing customers away from rivals and to your doors is a victory, during times of transformation, it isn’t the most critical aspect to focus on. The major challenge is capitalising on the change.
Staying ahead of well-researched customers requires constant awareness of emerging markets and trends, connecting with your customers and being receptive of what they want. Doing this enables you to anticipate and respond accordingly to customers’ evolving needs.