We are discussing some of the key lessons we have learnt when working with major brands on their customer closeness. Here are some important factors which we have seen prevent customer closeness:

Short-termism

Throughout the pandemic, the words that we have heard repeatedly are ‘agile’ and ‘pivot.’ In truth disruption has been the only constant over the last five years. Where many thought that the proliferation of data would illuminate the complete buyer journey, it has only become murkier. Buying cycles have become fragmented. Communication happens across multiple platforms. Trends are happening at such a speed that once one is identified, it is almost certain they can’t be leveraged.

In this environment it is no wonder that businesses are focusing on today’s wins. Building sustainable business processes and identifying best practice all seem like costly pursuits in a world where everything keeps shifting. Yet, without a long-term commitment to frame (and keep reframing) your organisation around your customer, it simply won’t happen.

The wrong boss

It is not surprising that many people consider themselves to work for a company, rather than for the customer. Whilst customers may ultimately pay everyone’s salary, they are a somewhat distant and often indistinct group when compared to Jerry from payroll who you see everyday. As such it is perhaps natural that processes and procedures are put in place that benefit the company rather than the customer.

The consequences of this have been apparent in the last ten years as tech-lead challenger brands have been able to disrupt major industries. Take banking for example. For centuries banks opened at 9:15am and closed at 4:30pm making them inaccessible outside of lunch for most working people. Is it really any surprise that mobile-only 24/7 banking solutions came in and took market share. It wasn’t technology, it was their focus on what consumers actually wanted.

Lack of ongoing metrics

In order to make change, you need to measure change. Quite often when we think about our performance in relation to customers we think of annual surveys, churn rates, average lifetime value. Often senior management will spend a day on the ‘front lines’ to better understand their customers, but unless this exercise is repeated on a regular basis (think monthly not yearly) then it won’t have a lasting impact. Without ongoing mapping, measurement, and active listening it is difficult to understand how external changes will affect your customer base and you will be basing decisions on what has already happened as opposed to what could happen.

Processes and systems

Whilst processes and systems are both critical to the overall success of your business, it is very easy to get caught up in functional thinking. Let’s be honest, no matter how much data you put into them, most processes live on paper, are open to interpretation and don’t necessarily help you serve that customer as they are right in front of you. In order for customer closeness to create any real value, you have to look above and beyond functional lines.

If you feel like you don't have the proper tools to truly listen to and understand your customers, why not see if we can help? Arrange a friendly chat with a member of our team today to see how we can help you.

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