We've been saying that the customer is queen or king for quite some time now. And in the coming year, that will be truer than ever. The customer determines where he or she finds information and which channel and which supplier gets the sale. And there is an abundance of these suppliers (certainly online). Customer loyalty, it seems, is as good as dead. Yes, of course, we are faithful to our local baker and tailor, but for items we don't buy everyday and where there is no personal relationship with the supplier (nor does there always need to be one), we don't really care where we order from. Right?
Today, many consumers make their choice based on only two criteria: price and reviews – the latter providing some confidence about product quality and supplier reliability. And it's an obvious choice. Why would you pay top price for an OEM device charger that you can get from a Chinese web shop for a fraction of the price – unless you need it tomorrow, of course? Virtually no supplier has a monopoly today, and you can switch to a new supplier with just one mouse click.
So does that leave all companies having to compete solely on price? No, that would create an unhealthy market situation. Aiming for good reviews is a great idea, of course, but is merely a partial solution. To encourage customer loyalty in the long term, you need to focus heavily on the last touch point in the customer journey. The three elements are essential in these efforts: data, analytics and real-time decisioning.
Determining the right data
Customers leave a data trail behind in various channels. This data enables you to build up a wealth of information about the customer. This is nothing new, but I have noticed that a lot of companies have difficulty in determining what data from this data stream they should add to the customer profile. By analysing the data, you can determine whether data can be assigned as a fixed value to the customer, or is of only temporary relevance, such as a location, for example. In addition, you can really get to know your customer by analysing this data, using this knowledge to predict behaviour and responding to this behaviour in real time.
Using analytics to predict customer behaviour is the key to success in the last step of the customer journey. In this way, you can create the ultimate balance between customer service-driven interactions and marketing and sales-driven interactions. Just think how valuable it would be to know at this last touch point whether you should persuade the customer with your service, or use a combination offer with a product from the same line?
Helping customers make decisions in the moment
By using data strategically, you can predict where the customer has a need. You know what motivates him to actually make a purchase at that critical decision point. Responding smartly to this will increase customer satisfaction and make those customers more loyal. As a result, you will see that price and reviews are indeed important, but that customers still need a supplier who knows and recognises them, and responds to their needs.
To learn more about creating fiercely loyal customers, download our free ebook, Keep them coming back: You guide to building customer loyalty with analytics.