How customer centric will your brand be in 2016? Oystercatchers @FestofMarketing 2015

How customer centric will your brand be in 2016? Oystercatchers @FestofMarketing 2015

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I believe that 2016 will be the tipping point in the brand race to win the customer. As Cilla Snowball, CBE, Group Chairman & Group CEO, AMVBBDO succinctly said to me recently, “If you can’t love your customer, you shouldn’t be in business”.

Propelled by technologies, people now expect every brand encounter to be personally enriched based on knowledge of their history, preferences and dislikes. Troy Warfield, British Airways Director of Customer Experience, suggests, “The best businesses put the customer at their heart, which drives growth and, strong quarterlies are the result…but it does take bravery for someone to [make that first step].” This is because doing the right thing is not always the most cost effective process.

From my conversations with clients and brands this year I observe a few discriminating pointers and rallying cries enabling great businesses to put their customer at the centre of everything they do.

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Kenco, Unilever, and P&G are all companies aligned around the goal to make a difference in their customers’ lives. “Today, people care as much about a company’s purpose, value, and global impacts as they do about its products, packaging, and prices,” states Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP.  Telefónica UK’s Sales & Service Director Feilim Mackle, agrees, ”Success comes at that little moment of truth, a moment to delight or disappoint the customer – and that moment is constantly changing”.

Understanding what motivates and drives customers and employees beyond brand and pay check is the key to unlocking loyalty and growth.

Digital innovators

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“The under-15s today hold a huge amount of the national’s future wealth in their heads” claims Decoded’s Co-Founder, Kathryn Parsons. Tech and the new generation of customers have changed how brand-owners and people connect. Virtual reality has crept into marketing and people’s lives: IKEA’s 2014 innovative catalogue invited customers to use an augmented reality feature on smart devices to virtually place furniture from the catalogue in their homes.

The smart companies are tapping into data tech to gather and analyse emerging customer trends and launch personalised products and promotions – mainly accessed digitally. Those that get to grips with omni-channel and build a continuous picture of the customer journey are most likely to succeed.

Model changers

Customer centric businesses do as Troy Warfield suggests. “Adopt a store, walk the path of a customer, understand what they go through. Be a learning organisation”. I now see Leadership coming from every layer of the organisation as the c-suite business model transforms from human to social capital with collaboration around a common purpose. Marketers who fight and win as champions of the customer in the boardroom will help build business much more effectively.

Shift the diversity dial

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The number of women on boards has almost reached 25% in 2015. In the UK, women influence 80 percent of buying decisions and by 2025 are expected to own 60 percent of all personal wealth. When Nike reported in September a 15 % gain in quarterly revenues, its biggest upswing in a year, CEO, Mark Parker credited the company’s efforts to cater to its female customers as one of the most significant drivers of growth.

Diversity in its broadest sense is critical for an organisation’s ability to innovate and adapt in a fast-changing environment and to be truly customer centric. Because diversity breeds innovation. And innovation breeds business success to ensure brands are really, truly customer-centric in today’s complex but exciting world.

These are some of the areas of discussion that I will be raising with Crystal Palace FC’s Chairman, Steve Parish, and, UKTV’s Marketing Director, Simon Michaelides – at The Festival of Marketing on 11 November for our debate “Innovating with Digital for Success: How Customer Centric is Your Brand?”

 

This article was first published by The Festival of Marketing http://www.festivalofmarketing.com/news/how-customer-centric-will-your-brand-be-in-2016

Victoria Sinclair