The Internet has empowered the consumer with information and limitless access. This has changed the industrial landscape and it has fostered the new industrial phase called ‘the age of customer.’
Digital commerce companies are at the leading edge of that industrial transformation. Ironically, being super busy with building the core digital business it is extremely easy to lose sight of the big picture. So, let’s dumb down the basic concepts.
The age of the seller
For thousands of years the relationship between seller and buyer has had the allocation of the power in favor of the seller (the figures below are inspired by the book ‘The age of the Customer‘ written by Jim Blasingame):
Two out of three key aspects of the sale, product or service and product information, were controlled by the seller.
The age of the customer
With the Internet, the product information and pricing has moved into the hands of the buyers:
This is having a profound impact on every brand’s business strategy:
- Competitive barriers are eroding: informed customers can easily find the cheapest prices from suppliers, large or small, anywhere in the world.
- Decreased customer loyalty: digital substitution is collapsing value chains and erasing profits across multiple industries.
- Buyers are in control: your customers might know more about your products, your services, your competitors, and pricing than you do.
- Open play: your competitors now have instant access to your tactics and strategies.
What can you do to win?
Building walls around your ‘castle’ or talking about being “customer-centric” or “customer-focused” will not get you far. The winning strategy in the age of the customer is to become customer-obsessed — to focus your strategic decisions on how your customers expect you to engage them. In other words on creating winning customer experiences:
This is a paradigm shift for how companies should invest for growth. Instead of spending on brand advertisement, product distribution, and supplier lock-in alone companies must now allocate resources on gaining customer knowledge and on delivering customer experience optimization. This is being done through investments in real-time actionable data, contextualized customer experiences, sales methods tied to buyers’ processes, and content-led marketing.
In the age of the customer, customer-obsessed enterprises will justify technology expenditures through improvements in customer experience and revenue growth.
Where you can start your customer experience journey?
An essential starting point is the development of customer experience views through customer experience web analytics. Knowledge about customer experience friction points will help your brand to intelligently allocate resources and commit to the customer experience optimization.
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