Keeping up with customer wants and needs can be a full-time job. Here are the most important trends that can win customers for any type of business.
1. Customers Want Mobile
It's not just the millennial generation; more and more customers, in various demographic spreads, use their mobile devices for more and more activities. Think everything from banking to signing documents, from tracking exercise to making a grocery list. Customers want mobile access to the digital tools and data they need for daily life.
First, be sure your website is mobile friendly. Once you've got that covered, look for ways to branch out. Get your business on mobile apps like FourSquare and Instagram; investigate mobile marketing solutions. When you're ready, look into building your own app for full mobile reach.
2. Customers Want Quick Responses
Digital marketing has created all sorts of access points for businesses: it's not just phone, in-store, and email anymore. Social media platforms, customer service hubs, blog comments, instant messaging, and more can make your business accessible in a wide variety of ways.
That's great, but it's not enough; customers want accessibility, but they especially want a quick response... regardless of which access channel they use. You need to continually monitor and respond to all the access points you've created. From the customer's point of view, if you're not going to respond quickly, you're not really accessible.
3. Customers Want Personalization
People may complain privacy loss and the creepiness of seeing Facebook ads that reflect their last Amazon purchase. Despite the voiced qualms, however, most consumers now expect--and even demand--the type of personalization that big data can provide.
The ever-growing pool of digital tools provides plenty of personalization options, for even the smallest businesses. The bottom line is this: customers know their data is being collected, and they'd like businesses to, at the least, make good use of it. Think of ways to extend personalization into all your marketing and customer interactions to win at this trend.
4. Customers Want a Consistent Experience
Customers want a business to stand for something, to have values, a mission. And they want to see those foundational ideas carried out through all parts of a business, from initial contact to purchase to follow-up.
If authenticity is the big Yes, hypocrisy is the big No: customers won't tolerate a claim to be “real and down-to-earth” that's followed by a blog post of corporate jargon or a socially disconnected marketing campaign.
Think about what your business is all about, narrow it down to the most essential values, then make sure those values are pervasive. If not, you'll get called out by consumers who are tired of two-faced interactions.
5. Customers Want Integration
Integration is a common thread running through the four trends mentioned above: mobile access, quick responses, personalization, and consistency are part of this drive to have digital tools integrate seamlessly with real-world experience.
Of course, there are still bumps in the road to the future. Technology is always in process, never at an endpoint: but doing your best, within your budget, to provide digital/real-world integration will make customers happier. For digital-only businesses, make sure your automated tools play nicely with your person-led services (such as live customer service).
Overwhelmed by the possibilities? Pick one trend to tackle it this quarter. Next quarter, pick another. Trends will change, but a habit of continually improving your business will always be popular with customers.
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