Not Just Lip Service: How to Truly Put the Customer First



Whether you read a lot of articles about marketing today or not, you are probably aware of a general shift in the way companies talk to the public about their product or service. This shift is described as what many marketers and writers have deemed “the age of the customer.”
It means that while brands still have to educate people to a certain extent, generally, the customer has more power than ever before and possesses the ability to self-educate and make the purchasing decision all on their own. That is why marketing that focuses too heavily on selling the product in question seems heavy handed and out of date.
If all this “age of the customer” stuff sounds confusing, read on to find out what you can do to truly put them first.
Don’t over-explain. If you spend too much time and energy trying to foist your opinions onto your audience, they will tire of it very quickly. They do not want to be told why you are great and why your competition sucks; they want to discover that for themselves. Many digital tools exist for that purpose today. Instead of telling them how great you and your product are, you want to “get caught being great,” as SMC’s founder Kris likes to say. So instead of saying, “we have the best toothpaste in the world,” you would instead point to a review of something saying that very thing.
Invest in their experience. Whether your customers do most of their interacting with your company online or in-person, you want to do everything you can to make sure they are having one of the best experiences of their day. If it is on your website, does it have a clean look? Is it easy to navigate? Does it have features that delight, surprise or offer some sort of unexpected information? If it is brick and mortar, did you make them feel at home? Did they walk out with something more than just your product or service?
Be social. Though it is important to remember that your brand is not a human, it is equally important for it to be where the humans are. Those places are increasingly the big social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using social media to “give” more than you “ask” by posting interesting, relevant content from around the web is an essential way to become a part of your audience’s daily lives. So if you are selling workout clothes, you could give away tips for improving the customer’s next workout, or even a discount on merchandise.
Invest in great customer service. Last but certainly not least, make sure you invest in great customer service. After all, everything else is just lip service unless you are actually there when a real customer needs your help. How you will structure your customer service team depends on what kind (and size) of business you run, but the one thing that needs to be consistent is that customer inquiries are responded to quickly and their problems are getting solved whenever possible.
The “age of the customer” goes beyond the old adage that the customer is always right. This implies a reactive role on the part of businesses. In fact, businesses must take an active role in putting the customer first. By investing in improving the customer experience and adding value to customers’ lives, you will give them great experiences and keep them coming back for more.



Reprinted by permission.
Image credit: CC Manchester City Library

About the author: Dylan Thaemert

Dylan Thaemert is Social Engagement Manager at Social Media Contractors. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where he earned his B.A. in English, specializing in Creative Writing.

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