Can You Handle the 21st Century Customer?

customer serviceSpend just a few minutes with your existing and prospective customers—or just two minutes scanning your Twitter news stream—and one sentiment resounds loud and clear: we are in the Age of the Consumer, one characterized by a customer who is more informed, demanding and expectant than perhaps we have ever seen. Just consider the following statistics aggregated in a great LinkedIn post:

  • For every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.
  • 96 percent of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91 percent of those will simply leave and never come back.
  • 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated.

Okay, okay… so as a marketer, you are probably wondering why this matters to you. After all, shouldn’t your sales team and customer service department be concerned with these figures instead of you? Well as a marketer, you possess a lot of power to sway consumer opinion about your brand and to foster a positive, strong brand identity. And with so many of your leads and existing customers just minutes away from teaming with the competition, your job has become exceedingly important. So where do you begin? By considering the following:

1. Understand how people feel about your brand: It is not enough to assume that your key stakeholders feel positively about your company. Instead, you need to take measures to corroborate your thinking. For example, spend a few minutes hopping on the next sales call to take note of commonly asked questions and the pain points of your target market. Set aside some time to craft a survey that will provide you with both quantitative and qualitative data to determine the satisfaction levels of your existing audience. Or carve out a few hours for canvassing your social media platforms to see what is being said about your company in cyberspace. Dealing with today’s 21st century customer undoubtedly begins by having a firm grasp on what is being communicated and felt about your brand.

2. Do something about it: Now that you know how your audience feels, it’s time to do something about it. For instance, if your customers are expressing frustration over the lack of transparency with your brand, try introducing a comprehensive blogging platform for your core market and introducing some of your top executives. Or, if the sentiment is that there are not enough marketing assets available to educate and inform existing consumers, then consider investing in white paper or webinar development. Understanding how your customers feel is only the first step. Determining how to address their concerns is the next.

3. Always innovate: Just because you remedied a customer pain point by launching a social media campaign or email marketing series does not mean your job is over. Conversely, as a marketer your responsibility is to always innovate and find a way to push the envelope on creativity. The moment you think your existing audience is happy is the moment you should push a little further. Perhaps that means introducing an incentive program for your existing clientele—one that rewards them for their steadfast loyalty. Or maybe it means having your CEO write a custom letter to your most committed brand ambassadors. No matter your tactic, make sure you always keep the door to innovation open.

Do you think you are ready to handle the 21st century customer? What tactics do you employ to keep your market happy? Let us know in the comments below!

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