As all marketers know, customer centricity is paramount all the time and the pandemic put an exclamation point on “paramount.”
With more people self-isolating, 52% of brands increased their customer budgets between March and June of this year, according to data gathered by performance marketing agency Merkle.
The biggest rise occurred in the health industry with 70% reporting increases. Insurance followed at 60% with retail close behind at 59%.
While a few of the remaining respondents in health and insurance reported small decreases, a much larger number or 21% of retail marketers reported reductions in spending.
As part of its survey, marketers were asked to name their top three tactical priorities. Trying new marketing technologies or features was top and cited by 50% of respondents but becoming more customer centric was close behind at 45%. Identified as the third top priority by 42% was the development of new transaction fulfillment capabilities.
Numbers one and three were understandable given the new customer landscape created by the pandemic but number two reinforced the importance of customer relations. When pressed further, 90% of marketers cited customer centricity as “a little more” or “significantly more” important, while 85% also identified prospect communication as being similarly important.
At least half the respondents agreed on increases in four of the eleven channels and platforms surveyed. Site/mobile chat was identified by 56% of those surveyed followed by mobile app functionality at 55%. Email and video were next at 51% and 50% respectively.
Brands that incorporate customer centricity as their mission would do well to set measurable goals with clear areas of responsibility. Change isn’t always easily accepted and adding KPIs to scorecards helps keep people accountable, especially when tied to bonuses.
Goals must be clearly communicated throughout the company and not just within the marketing department. It must be a company mindset and owned by everyone.
Done well, customer centricity not only begins with the customer but also strives to meet that customer’s needs as best as possible. Successfully achieving this will deliver a loyal customer.
Who should lead the customer centric effort? Some companies create Chief Customer Officer or Chief Customer Experience Officer positions. Others form a board and create a Center of Excellence, start a customer experience committee, or appoint a senior executive to head up the effort. Boards and committees can be powerful, especially if they incorporate and engage customers, community members and/or employees.
Not only do such groups bring credibility to the table but they also empower others to step forward with suggestions and ideas. While the strategies differ, all have one purpose and that’s to place greater emphasis on the importance of customers as well as to increase CLV or customer lifetime value.
The data clearly shows that excellent customer relations is no longer a nice-to-have thing. 96% of those surveyed by Merkle said they intend to continue being customer centric after the pandemic is over.
As author and motivational speaker Larry Winget said: “The best advertisement you can have is a happy customer with a big mouth. The worst advertisement you can have is an unhappy customer with a big mouth.”