Why the future of marketing looks like a boomerang
Today's customer landscape is changing rapidly, propelled largely by an upheaval in market dynamics, according to a white paper from Peppers & Rogers Group and RightNow Technologies.
It comes as no real surprise that product distribution via the internet and big-box retailers has caused seismic shifts in the way consumers buy everything from MP3 players to garden tools. But product manufacturers are still missing a key element: the upsurge of customers coming back to them for support.
Direct consumer contact According to the paper, entitled 'The Boomerang Effect: How Market Dynamics Are Driving Customers Back to the Manufacturer', today's buyers have extended their purchasing power, using the internet and telephone to research, buy, and ask follow-up questions about how to install, use, and troubleshoot their new purchases.
Gone, for the most part, are the experts at the local mom-and-pop store who could tell you everything you needed to know about any product on the shelf. Today, customers have a direct line to the name on the label and they expect the manufacturer to be ready to provide information whenever they want it.
Gaining the advantage Customers may know and respect the brand, but they are now raising the stakes of their relationship with the manufacturer. Many high-performing companies are already taking advantage of this new dynamic, training their contact centre staff to treat the returning customer as a valuable asset rather than as a problem to be handed over to a channel partner. Such companies have redesigned their internet, contact centre, and e-mail operations and carefully aligned them for consistency, turning them into positive experiences for building customer relationships.
In short, the paper argues, the returning customer represents a huge opportunity both from a loyalty and a revenue standpoint. The white paper discusses the challenges of the new customer dynamic and how multichannel manufacturers have evolved to embrace the new wave, and examines how changing market conditions have required manufacturers to focus on serving end consumers - all of which represents an opportunity for building stronger customer relationships and long-term value.
Four best practices The paper recommends four best practices for turning these challenges into opportunities, briefly summarised as:
- Leverage the data, but don't abuse it;
- Match the online channel to the need;
- Align across channels, both externally and internally;
- Innovate from a customer perspective.
The paper concludes that manufacturers that invest in customer experience initiatives have already seen a return on their efforts in ways that satisfy both marketers and the CFO. Increasingly engaged customers are spending more on their products and extending their loyalty. A truly multi-channel approach to customer service, based on customer needs, will certainly achieve this goal without driving up costs.
Download the white paper The full white paper has been made available for free download from RightNow Technologies' web site - click here (PDF document, 153Kb, free registration required).