The modern customer is always-on and always addressable, which makes them empowered in ways previous generations of consumers never were. This largely stems from the substantial number of devices the average consumer uses—3.64 per digitally connected consumer, according to Global Web Index—which means that it’s likely your customer is switching between multiple devices throughout the day, and sometimes even using more than one at the same time. (Google recently found that 21% of mobile customers use their phone at the same time as their desktop computer.)
This multichannel, multi-touchpoint world means traditional product-based messaging doesn’t have the same impact it once did. Now, brands must emphasize how the product solves particular customer problems and focus on cross-channel customer engagement. This has resulted in marketing strategies moving away from “pushing” the message out to consumers and instead developing ways to “pull” prospects into interactions.
It’s vitally important, for long-term organizational success, that you start thinking about products from the perspective of which customer problem they solve. Forrester Research calls this a “customer-obsessed” business model, where the brand creates experiences that make customers’ lives easier or helps them accomplish specific tasks. This has a revenue impact as well, because engaged customers spend more money overall, which makes a customer-focused marketing strategy a powerful tool in our multichannel world.
The Components of a Customer-Obsessed Business Model
There are two specific characteristics that, according to Forrester, describe a customer-obsessed business model:
- Data and insights
- Digitally enhanced products and services
These two components interact through the customer lifecycle to create an experience that successfully attracts and engages customers over the long term. Data and insights refers to the expansive amount of data that brands collect, through known and unknown interactions, which are then stitched together into a customer record. This data is then analyzed to derive insights into customer behavior and motivations, which leads to making better decisions about which offers to provide.
Successful brands can leverage the insight derived from this data to create new products that provide additional data back for greater customer insight. This is where the Internet of Things comes into play; the smart refrigerator that knows when you’re out of milk and offers on-demand ordering of a new gallon provides feedback, which can drive future offers. This creates a virtuous cycle where brands can use data-driven insights to optimize customer experiences that create more data and provide even deeper insights into the customer’s needs, wants, and desires.
The Role of the Customer Data Platform
Customer data platforms (CDPs) play a key role in building a customer-obsessed business model. Unlike traditional enterprise data management tools, a CDP is optimized to collect and stitch together customer information from multiple anonymous and known customer interactions.
What this allows marketers to do is create a unified customer profile, tracking the collection of data from anonymous to known, and make decisions for the most effective action with the best insights possible. CDPs thus play a vital role in a customer-obsessed business, largely because they are tailor-made to manage customer data in such a way that marketing can derive relevant insights quickly and efficiently.
Building a Customer-Obsessed Model
Building a customer-obsessed business model is not an easy task, but it’s certainly worthwhile. The most substantive facet of getting to this goal is gaining alignment from key stakeholders. Collecting customer data, and deriving insights from it, is key—but without aligning data collection with business goals, there is little possibility your efforts will succeed over the long term.
IT is a critical partner in garnering this alignment, because they’ll need to support the adoption of the customer analytics capabilities that are required to make customer obsession feasible as a business strategy. IT also understands big data, and can help clarify technical requirements as well as advocate for new solutions if necessary.
Marketers also need to embrace their inner data scientist and understand that using customer data to drive decision-making is a must in the current marketplace. The fact of the matter is that there’s a new marketing reality, and understanding this is key to eventually including customer data in your decision making.
In the long run, corporate alignment and an understanding of the new marketing reality will help companies become more customer obsessed and drive better results. This will bring about better marketing decisions and more successes in the long term, as well as higher customer retention and a better brand perception among the customer base.