Why Digitization and Disintermediation Forces Brands to Rethink their Customer Relationships
How can you make your customer relationships more personal? In a business environment - where soon the only way companies will stand out among their competitors is through their level of customer experience (CX) - it’s one of the biggest questions that brands need to answer to secure their future.
How can you make your customer relationships more personal? In a business environment – where soon the only way companies will stand out among their competitors is through their level of customer experience (CX) – it’s one of the biggest questions that brands need to answer to secure their future.
During his address at Sitel Group’s European Customer Day, Thierry Jadot, the president of leading digital marketing communications company Dentsu Aegis Network, examined traditional notions of business-customer relationships. He then laid out the challenges needing to be overcome for brands wanting to forge stronger bonds with their customers in the years ahead.
Mastering data is key to brand survival
“We have to accept the world is changing and embrace it with enthusiasm and passion,” Jadot said.
If companies can’t do this, if they are unable to evolve sufficiently to reconnect with consumers and with society at large, then their days could be numbered.
“Businesses’ life expectancy has never been so low,” he warned. “There is a need to move quickly, especially when it comes to taking control of data.”
This is because becoming a master of data – of its collection, its analysis and application – is the elixir that keeps your business fit and healthy, helping it live a long and happy life.
But taking control of data is a part of the wider challenge of having a business structure ready to support not only the flow of information, but also the ability to meet its customers where they are, i.e., the digitization of business.
Jadot accepts startups make this look easy because all they had to do was develop a business model reflecting this change and come to market. However, incumbent companies, even those with long histories and extremely valuable brands, are now in situations where they must totally transform their existing business models.
“If this transformation does not happen quickly, there is a risk of disappearance,” he said.
From VUCA to DELI
For Jadot, the key to transformation is focusing on what you need to change within your company in order to build a relationship of empathy with the customer. Or, as Jadot puts it, moving from VUCA – an acronym for a model characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – where uncertainty and the risk of seeing a two-speed society emerge are always present, to a DELI model. DELI is an acronym for Dynamic, Excitement, Limitless and Instant, facilitating real-time understanding, empathy and leadership.
A major challenge of moving to this model is attracting customers and keeping them in a brand’s ecosystem. But, if they carefully analyze the data, they’ll have the tools they need to create a personalized CX.
“When you enter the world of Facebook, everything is done to keep you there,” offered Jadot by way of example. “The challenge for brands today is to find the solution to attract customers to their ecosystem and keep them there.”
Focus on innovation and diversity
Brands must also restore trust. Customers are increasingly suspicious of data collection and use, of politics and speeches and of traditional business strategies.
“This is a major challenge for brands, particularly with the millennial target group, for whom transparency and the trust economy are essential,” he said.
In-store, for example, customers expect a new and stronger experience while navigating the aisles, searching as much for real added value as for items to purchase. This is particularly true at the point of sales and in terms of interactions with in-store staff who should be seen as experts with emotional understanding.
“What counts is the personalized customer experience,” insists Jadot. “The human relationship must bring something to customers and brands.”
This is why, according to Jadot, businesses must look at innovating and creating an environment where innovation can flourish – an environment built on diversity of skills and talents and understanding. Attracting the right mix of people and properly developing their skills helps brands deliver memorable CX.
“Where there is friction and diversity, we can innovate,” explains Jadot. “We are at the start of a revolution in brand discourse.”