A Customer-First Approach Is Crucial

Marketers' insights on knowing your customer and understanding their expectations.

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Blair Cooke talking at CMO Disrupt, Melbourne. Source: CMO Disrupt, Melbourne.

This article first appeared on Marketing Exec. The original story can be found here.

A good customer-business relationship often differentiates successful organisations from their competitors. In order to achieve this, it is crucial they get to know the customers’ wants and needs.

CMO Disrupt, Melbourne in February gave marketing professionals the chance to discuss key issues for the industry going forward. Developed in collaboration between OmniChannel Media and Amicus, attendees were asked two live-polling questions that aimed to gauge the future of marketing and the customer-business relationship.

The first question posed to those in attendance was: ‘How well do you think your organisation knows your customer?’

Just shy of half (43%) of all respondents said that their organisation ‘moderately’ knows the customer and that ‘most employees are engaged’.

However, 33% of organisations were confident they knew their customer ‘well’ with ‘most employees understanding our customer needs.’

Close to one fifth (17%) stated that their organisation knows their customer ‘very well’ with ‘all lines of business engaged with the customer.’

These statistics indicate that companies have faith in their employees’ understanding of customer needs. This ensures that they will continue to deliver quality service to those investing in their business and proves to be a positive exchange for both the organisation and the consumer.

Although, such results hint at room for improvement too. While only 7% of respondents said that ‘the majority of [their] employees don’t understand customer needs’, all customers would favour an organisation that knows them ‘very well’.

In his 10-minute snapshot to close the day, Blair Cooke, the Managing Director at Amicus, told marketers to “own the vision.”

“We need to give it relevance to our organisation and tie it to our businesses objectives,” Cooke explained.

Having a clear vision helps companies to better know and connect with their customers and therefore is key for organisations looking to progress.

The second question concerned a very timely topic – Millennials. Attendees were asked ‘Do you think Millennials will have different expectations when it comes to customer service?’

The poll revealed Millennials have higher expectations when it comes to digital.

Overwhelmingly, nearly three quarters (72%) of those surveyed said that Millennials will ‘definitely’ have different expectations, and that customer service ‘will need to be faster and digital first.’

These different expectations can be attributed to the fact that Millennials have grown up surrounded by technology and have evolved alongside it. As a result, connectivity, simplicity and accessibility are hugely important to them; it is an expectation as opposed to a bonus.

The large amount of marketers who recognise this vital change in the delivery of customer service is promising. Companies cannot afford to be left behind in the digital revolution, and the first step towards achieving this is recognising the need to change.

“There’s no point continuing to do things the way we’ve always done them and just deliver it through a fancier tool,” Cooke said.

Cooke highlights the importance of being open to change.

However, 13% stated there will only be a ‘slight’ change in expectations with ‘more emphasis on digital.’ Interestingly, 15% stated that ‘expectations won’t change’ at all as ‘everyone wants good service’.

While this is somewhat true, numerous reports have found that Millennials expect very different things from generations before them when it comes to customer service. The crucial difference is the fact that a good service is subjective, and organisations must try to understand what their customers want in order to deliver what they consider ‘good.’

Overall, the polls revealed that although the majority of organisations are proactively trying to understand their customers, some are still failing to recognise the need to adapt accordingly. By categorising a good service under one umbrella, organisations are not catering to the individual. It is important to ensure digital components are addressed to satisfy Millennials as well as more traditional forms of communication for older generations.