Many companies have in the last decade focused on cost savings and on creating improved long-term competitiveness and short-term profit. In business-to-business relations there will have been investments and thoughts regarding how to help one’s business relation make life easier, less costly, etc. and hereby creating the necessary loyalty.
As an example we could mention the automatic exchange of information, documents, and payments. That way, you put yourself in the customer’s place and make it easy to be a customer, while simultaneously creating the necessary interest – an interest that is required, as it in many ways has become more difficult to stand out and be unique.
There are several reasons for this
First and foremost, the competition is bigger than ever, since everything is transparent and factual information is available to all customers. So the fight for the customers’ temporary favour means many companies walk straight into the trap of copying their competitors – both in relation to products and services, but perhaps also in relation to the business model used in their market approach.
And if you are running a retail company and selling products that can be bought elsewhere – if nowhere else then on the internet – it is equally as easy to fall for the obvious temptation of lowering the price a little, in the hopes of getting customers to choose your company over your competitor’s. Some even have a tendency to believe that if you have bought a product cheaply, you will be more willing to buy the next three products from that same company.
It is not only retail companies that wish to get closer to the customer. Also the companies that produce the product are interested in knowing who the consumer is, and are also ideally interested in being in contact with the final customer.
“Google makes it especially difficult”
At the same time, the customers’ quick and often superficial Google searches makes it extra difficult to stand out.
You probably think (and rightly so) that your exact company and products are completely unique, but in a Google search they all look the same, in the sense that it is difficult to display uniqueness in the 3-4 lines per company that the customers are presented with in search results.
“Being good is the new average”
Last but not least, the quality standards for the vast majority of products have increased dramatically throughout the last couple of years. The customers expect a rather high standard of quality, almost regardless of what you are selling. To quote the American author and entrepreneur Seth Godin: “Being good is the new average”.
I therefore believe that, now more than ever, it is the customer’s entire experience (pre-sale, sale, and service) that determines whether it is you or your competitor who wins the next order and comes out victorious.
Just to mention a few statements from my own life, that will put things into perspective.
My son: “Dad, we will buy it on the internet, since we risk getting an old, half-used model if we go to the physical store”.
My son: “No no, that is not the best, I have researched it and users are happier with this product!”.
My wife: “Let us buy on the internet. It is much easier, they deliver it right to our door, and if it does not fit or it breaks, they will come and get it from our home”.
For both my son and my wife, these are statements that revolve around convenience and security.
All the way around
Essentially, it is about matching your customer’s purchasing process or “customer journey” with the company’s own sales process, no matter if the customer goes through customer service via phone, e-mail, web, or via a salesman, a consultant, or a technician.
Therefore, we believe that the key to intelligent customer engagement is found in four elements in our customer relationship management:
It has to provide:
- A tailored customer experience as a result of engaging the customers at the right time and place, and with the best actions possible./li>
- A proactive interaction with the customer, on the basis of the insights we can achieve through explaining the next interaction: In brief, what is the best we can do to move the customer further along in the process.
- A predictability in our trade by actively using the collected data and analysing tendencies and patterns. This can also be used to provide the customers with recommendations or suggestions regarding alternative solutions.
- A productivity improvement within daily sales and marketing efforts.
There are of course many other elements that have to be in place for a customer to choose us over our competitors, that being the product in itself, the quality, services, price, and relations.
But there is, in my opinion, no way around the fact that it is the registration of details and data in the customers’ purchasing process, and not least the execution of these data, which nowadays makes the difference between winning or losing the order.
I would very much like to hear your opinion on the above. What do you do in your company to secure top-line growth?