As a brand, you are only as good as your last customer interaction.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
Before Covid, a lot could be learned about future consumer behavior by analyzing the past. If you gave me a credit card statement from someone, I could almost certainly be designing your marketing plan. But one year after the start of the pandemic, one thing has become clear: the course of the customer journey has changed in a very profound and lasting way.
We now live in a world where people's attitudes towards their personal safety, the economy, their jobs, or their finances change every week. There has also been a seismic shift in the way consumers interact with brands. McKinsey estimates Covid has pushed 10 years of e-commerce adoption to 90 days (the first three months of the pandemic). And according to new research by our sister company Reach3 Insights, 36% of Americans plan on sticking to new brands and products they recently tried.
With loyalties, brands are forced to invest in the digital transformation of their business. According to a 2020 Salesforce report, 87% of service professionals said customers were more likely to use digital channels during Covid. And the days when customer service, marketing and research were viewed as separate business activities are over. The same survey found that 79% of service reps felt that "it is impossible to provide great service without full customer context". This means that service metrics, goals and technology must be fully integrated into everything that happens in the hallway.
Related: 3 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty And Trust
Covid leads towards the end of the marketing of silos
This type of cross-departmental integration was once a heresy. If you said to a researcher in 1986, “Hey, that woman we spoke to for the survey? We should too market to her ”- well, this researcher would have hit you over the head and told you to get lost. “There's no way! You're making people biased!” Today we know how important customer proximity is, especially in times of broken loyalty. If you can enable an ongoing conversation and learn more about your customers, you can also communicate more effectively with them – and ultimately give them more of what they want.
As a brand, you're only as good as your last customer interaction – be it an ad they saw while surfing Twitter, their online chat with your website's virtual assistant, or the survey they just completed on Instagram. For certain brands – especially those with whom consumers interact regularly – the need for ongoing engagement is crucial. The mobile revolution is an opportunity to speak to a more diverse group of your customers, including those who are outside traditional access covers. The only way to achieve this level of closeness is through ongoing two-way dialogue.
Related topics: Building a company based on an owner mentality and meaningful customer relationships
I was thinking about this the other day on my Peloton bike. My thought: 25,000 people took this course. How does a company like this move from a one-to-many relationship, which describes many of Peloton's relationships through its digital classes, to a one-to-one relationship? Links? The fact is, like most Peloton customers, I won't be spending several thousand dollars on another bike anytime soon. It's important for Peloton to keep customers like me busy – and to subscribe to their Digital Peloton membership.
Ultimately, customer loyalty is not about how good your product is – or how well you respond to complaints when it doesn't – but how well you anticipate consumer needs. The past 12 months have forced brands to ditch the rearview mirror as a guide to consumer behavior – and rely on the (much larger) windshield to show the road ahead.