Prime examples of current consumer-centric pin-ups include Uber, who has no fleet of cars, and Airbnb – who, despite offering worldwide shelter, has no properties.
They have a different type of brand loyalty, built from obsessive attention to all brand touch points. Business models created and optimised on deep insight through harnessing data and the democracy of social media.
Modern business has traditionally told us it’s all about the product. But, in reality, the economics of new technology has entirely refocused the way in which we do things. Market economics define success and brand loyalty has become much harder to maintain.
Many industries have realised this all too late, like the music industry and once-feted record labels where, in most cases, the old school show ponies at the top are relying on insight and the digital know how of today’s whizz kids – and in some cases the actual talent signed to these labels – to not only keep their head above water but survive.
But you can succeed with the duck principal – where everything looks smooth on the surface, with not one ruffled feather in sight while underneath all hell is breaking loose – for so long.
Companies of the future need to be agile, deft and adapt quickly. With the speed that technology is developing and markets constantly changing, it’s never been as imperative as now.
The reality of surviving and thriving comes down to having an inbuilt obsession with winning, serving and retaining customers not only at the core of those companies but running through every thread. It’s the only possible response.
Behavioural science tells us that as humans we possess two sides to our brain – a rational, and emotional outlook – and more and more brands need to be aware of these distinctions. The emotion, or empathy, is really a human trait but it certainly transfers into business into making them become customer-centric.
In 2009 n 2009, Airbnb was about to go bust with revenue flat lining at $200 a week. But now, powered by social media and customer-centricity more than 9 million people have used it to find a bed and temporary housing.
And with Uber, despite the continuing scare tactics from governments and all of those who aren’t taking a financial cut from its bursting coffers, the overwhelming message is that customers would rather get in a car with a complete stranger than pay through the nose for a licensed one.
The future of commerce will be defined by those who embrace the customer democracy, against those who don’t, but transforming businesses to understand this can be tough.
To succeed, you must ingrain a customer-centric culture into your business – and for those who ignore, the foolishness of living in the past will cause a customer loss as businesses making the sometimes uncomfortable, but productive decisions will capture the market.
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