Why Brands are Failing To Listen To Customers and How To Fix That

As terabytes of consumer data are collected every day, companies have more information than ever about their customers. But that doesn’t mean they understand what those customers need—or how best to serve them.

Without a clear understanding of what customers are experiencing, executives put their brands at risk, according to Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting, which helps companies collect video feedback from their customers. As the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates, a company’s survival in challenging times often requires a strong, meaningful audience connection and swift action to meet customer needs.

So, what can companies do to more effectively tap into customer experiences and build lasting relationships? Here, MacMillan and Rick Reuter, a principal in the financial services industry practice for consultant Deloitte, discuss what’s preventing companies from listening to their customers, the importance of human connections, and how companies should be thinking about the customer experience post-COVID-19.

Companies have access to tons of customer information. So what are companies missing? Why isn’t that data enough?

Andy MacMillan: We’ve become really algorithm dependent. Data and algorithms are useful. But they also mean we aim for the average: What does the average buyer want? We don’t ever learn about the exceptions. It’s become very sterile, and I think we all sense and feel that. The challenge for companies is how to get real feedback from people outside the company, and how to use that feedback to put the team in the shoes of the customer.

How do companies get that real feedback from their customers?

MacMillan: I think you have to be deliberate about the idea that you can’t just stand entirely behind the technology. You have to decide it’s important for people in your company to talk to customers.

If you’re a bank, go out and get 10 or 15 people without deep technology backgrounds to walk you through what it’s like for them to bank online. Then we pull that video in-house and let the teams watch and see what it’s like to be that customer. Or for an airline, it means asking a premium flyer who is not very tech-savvy what it’s like to book travel for his or her family. How do you get your tech team to understand how to alleviate some of those flyer’s concerns, when your team is not the demographic we’re talking about? That’s the personal aspect I’m talking about that’s missing.

Rick Reuter: And sometimes it’s just having a real person pick up the phone. So, it’s not 15 menus of connecting through a call-center app. It’s “Hello, Mr. Reuter, how can we help you? We saw that you did this today. Is that what you’re calling about?”

How is COVID-19 changing the landscape for how companies are expected to interact with customers?

Reuter: I think companies now are getting more and more connected with the human experience than they have in the past decade, and I think it’s refreshing that we have this technology infrastructure to adapt quickly. We just need to continue to make that a priority.

MacMillan: The question, even six months ago, was “How do I squeeze out more margin for myself as a company?” Now for the first time in a while, we’re seeing companies actually thinking about customers and taking measures to keep us safe. This situation has caused us to go back to a time before we relied on the algorithms. We’re saying, “Hey, let’s go talk to some customers. Let’s find out what their needs are and figure out how to service those needs.” It’s a remarkably simple formula, but I would say that hasn’t been the heart of what we’ve been doing for the past decade.

When the COVID-19 crisis ends, what’s going to happen to these customer-centric changes? Will they continue? 

MacMillan: It’s going to be difficult for businesses to just snap back to the assumptions we had six months ago about how everything works.

One of the changes companies should keep is how they’ve empowered employees on the front lines. A coffee chain I go to, each [outlet] had different ways of implementing carryout-only procedures to keep people safe. It was very smart. It was like all the rules had been thrown out the window—instead of a uniform corporate policy, the company trusted employees to make some rational decisions on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep our customers safe, how to adapt to this unprecedented situation.

Reuter: That’s a culture where employees feel empowered and they feel ownership of the problem, which creates opportunity. I think that’s a great example of a large enterprise creating some local angles to be successful.

How can companies empower individual employees in a smart way?

MacMillan: It’s about culture and values. You hear front-line retail workers say, “I wish I could do the right thing more often for people.” And often it isn’t really about the money. It’s just trying to treat people the right way, trying to solve a problem in a restaurant, in a store, whatever that might be.

There’s also something to be said for hiring good people, conveying your shared values as a company and empowering those people to make good decisions in line with your values.

As companies rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and try to meet customer needs, what’s the biggest thing they can do to improve their listening?

MacMillan: I think the issue isn’t for or against technology. I think it’s how do we layer in perspective and actually care about the customer in an authentic way? We talk about an empathy gap, and what we mean by that is, it’s not like people go to work every day and don’t care about the customers; it’s that they don’t have the perspective. They don’t actually get to see these customers and talk to them to know that they’re not hitting the mark.

The lesson companies can take away from this crisis is the way it’s caused us to go, “Hey, wait. I need to find out what the customers really need, and then go figure it out.” And as customers, we’re delighted that they seem to care.

By:Taylor Smith for FastCo Works

Source: Why brands are failing to listen to customers—and how to fix that

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“Revisiting the relationship between marketing capabilities and firm performance: The moderating role of market orientation, marketing strategy and organisational power”

Godovykh, Maksim; Tasci, Asli D.A. (July 2020). “Customer experience in tourism: A review of definitions, components, and measurements”.

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Pine, B. Joseph; Gilmore, James H. (2013).

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“Customer Experience Management Market Report, 2021-2028”.

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How Brands Can Better & Effectively Use Influencers

https://miro.medium.com/max/1200/0*uPEXSSv59uAYEmc7

Influencer marketing isn’t as simple as choosing an influencer with a high number of followers to post an ad for you. In 2019, there have been a multitude of changes that have taken place in the influencer marketing world which brands need to factor into their strategies to get the most ROI.Consumer expectations around authenticity, an increase in influencers making it harder to reach their target market, and the need for solid evidence of the success of a campaign or post are the key trends we’re seeing shape the changes this year.

Below is a list of things to remember before engaging an influencer for your brand, to ensure the highest success rate.

  1. Influencers are people too

It’s clear that brands need to identify an influencer that suits their image and has an audience appropriate to them, as it’s obvious it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Think of the basic advertising and marketing principles such as brand consistency across its messaging, imagery, stunts etc. All of these principles also apply when it comes to selecting influencers.

For effective market penetration in the influencer space, brands need to change the way they see influencers. It can feel a little strange at first because we’re so used to having our own perception of them through a screen, but brands need to challenge themselves and stop being transactional and start building genuine relationships.

Doing this, not only will your brand foster beneficial relationships for future activity, but the synchronicity between the influencer, brand and audience is the key driver to the most genuine engagement and success of the campaign.

Of course, there is always the irony when it comes to using influencers since brands pay for influencers to post an ad, so it can be perceived as anything but genuine. Therefore, it is important to be mindful that influencer marketing is actually a partnership and when working together, both reputations are on the line.

2. Video is the new black

Like all key moments in pop culture, trends come and go but some stick so well that they stay popular through the generations. The 20s had smoking and flapper dresses, the 60s had the flare pants and tie-dye, the 80s had the boombox and the 90s had the blackberry.

In 2019’s digital climate, the legacy that millennials and Gen Zs have left is the ubiquitous use of social media. This demographic has propelled the amount of user-generated content full of memes, live streaming of stories and videos, which is why video is currently on trend.

Since 90% of Gen Z and 83% of millennials are spending at least two or three hours a day watching videos on their smartphones, brands need to capitalise on creating fun video content and memes that can be easily shared with their peers as it resonates well with this generation more than any other form of media.

3. Authenticity is key

When followers feel like influencers are real people they can relate to and even share similar experiences with, that’s when the magic happens. The most successful influencers have a highly captivated audience because of their ability to produce authentic and relatable content.

Since millennials and Gen Z’s are digital natives to social media and advertising across these platforms, they are naturally more switched on when it comes to recognising when they are being overtly marketed to.

According to a study by Deloitte, 72% of millennials use social media as a good way to stay connected to news and topics that are important to them, while 65% of millennials said that they are happy to receive targeted content if it aligns with their interests – proving they are savvy when it comes to their consuming of digital content.

If businesses want to engage an influencer to market to this demographic, they need to be mindful about content that’s not consistent with the influencer’s audience and brand.

Brands need to change their thinking to view their relationships with influencers as adding a ‘human element’ to their marketing approach, as opposed to looking to influencer marketing as another means to just sell their products.

4. Data is king

Influencer marketing has always been seen as an enigma, with traditional marketers often questioning whether it can yield actual commercial results.

The reality of it is that it can. One of the best examples is homegrown company Hi-Smile. Founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic started the company with $20,000 of their own savings using solely influencer marketing, which then grew the company into a $40M business with over 100,000 customers across the globe in just three years.

Measuring ROI and using data to track the success of a campaign is important, not just because you can say with authority that investing the marketing budget into the influencer space was a wise move, but so you can optimise your campaigns.

Influencer marketing is still relatively new and there’s a huge potential to lead the market.

5. Talking to Gen Z

By next year, Gen Z’s are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers, not to mention social media has become one of the key driving forces for this generation to purchase products, accounting for 80% of purchases.

Instagram (44%), Snapchat (21%) and YouTube (32%) are the core outlets making the biggest impact in this space and influence everything from purchasing decisions, lifestyle choices and even political perspectives.

After almost a decade of focusing on millennials and Gen Y, brands that haven’t started factoring Gen Z into their strategies are shooting themselves in the foot.

Given Gen Z’s have an attention span of about 8 seconds, capturing their attention requires authentic and engaging content that they can contribute to, interact with, or be a part of. They want to feel like they are part of an actual community attached to authentic causes.

Despite the digital landscape’s challenges, there’s an opportunity for brands and businesses to market to consumers in a more flexible way to adapt to this new digital era. With so many opportunities for brands to utilise this generation of social media lovers to their benefit, remember the five key tips to ensure success and tap into a savvy, yet highly engaged type of audience.


Nathan Ruff is the co-founder and CEO of Hoozu, a data driven content creation business that uses creators and content to convert sales for its clients. Nathan has a wealth of specialist knowledge across industry trends, managing risk and ensuring accountability in a relatively unregulated space. He has also successfully founded five companies, including Market Engine, Urban Geek Media and VOLT Media. Nathan has been instrumental in helping to disrupt the influencer marketing industry and bringing accountability to the discipline.

Source: How brands can better and effectively use influencers – Dynamic Business

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How Global Brands Can Build a Successful Local Brand Experience

One of the most noteworthy consumer trends to come out of Covid has been the shift in focus to community-based shopping. Of course, e-commerce has experienced a major surge, but many consumers are now searching online for shops and services in the local area to find what they need, especially as daily commutes are no longer the norm and people are avoiding unnecessary travel.

In addition to convenience, consumers want to support local businesses, as well as the communities in which they live. Shopping local isn’t just about frequenting small businesses, though. Big brands such as Marks & Spencer, Halfords, and Currys PC World are also thriving at the local level because they have a neighbourhood presence and are well-known, trusted brands that have, at least historically, conducted business predominantly offline.

But in the race to win the attention, and business, of these bricks-and-mortar shoppers, businesses must ensure their ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience (NMBX) – consisting of all the touchpoints along the customer journey from online ‘Near Me’ search to offline purchase – is meaningful and positive across multiple channels. Not only that, for global brands and multi-location businesses, this also means engaging with consumers at all levels, whether country, regional, or local.

While many companies manage these communications well at the global level, they often fall down when it comes to building positive relationships with customers at the local level.

Current research shows that around half of Google searches have a local intent, with consumers searching for products and services ‘Near Me’.  But consumers aren’t just searching for local store options. They are turning online to plan their journeys, evaluate local store reviews, and engage with brands directly through social media.

It appears that global brands have started to become aware of the ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience (NMBX) and its importance in their brand strategies, with Gartner’s recent 2020 Spend Survey of CMOs revealing that the most important brand metric for 2020 is brand health – namely, what consumers know and think about a brand.

The challenge for brands has always been that the bigger the brand – and the more locations there are to manage – the more difficult it is to maintain the quality and consistency of the customer experience. To create a memorable NMBX, brands must implement the right multilateral communications strategy that ensures the online to offline customer experience is uniform at the global, regional and local levels.

Create an outstanding NMBX

Global brands tend to have their business information and reputation management under control at the global, and sometimes even at the regional level, but this is often not the case at the local level.

This can be the result of organisational silos, where different levels of the organisation don’t share plans, goals, and processes with each other, or due to a simple lack of strategy and resources applied to actively manage the brand experience from top to tail.

The first step for brands to create a successful NMBX is to identify key stakeholders at the global and regional levels to lead the initiative. This project can then be owned at the global level by a single senior marketing lead – CMO or Head of Digital. Limiting key participants tends to generate better outcomes and more efficient project implementation, while still allowing for cross-departmental cooperation.

Develop brand trust through data accuracy

One of the most overlooked, yet vital, aspects of brand trust comes from consistent data quality. Especially now, consumers are searching online for the most accurate and up-to-date information on location, opening hours, and more.However, as local information is constantly changing depending on an outlet’s location, brands need to be able to manage all changes promptly and centrally. This means updating local level data directly via a master data system, or single source of truth, so it can be kept up-to-date across a brand’s entire directory ecosystem. If done right, this will increase visibility in search engines, increase trust and positively impact customer reviews.

When it comes to data accuracy, brands are facing a particularly difficult challenge, as operating restrictions during Covid vary not only country to country, but between regions and even neighbouring cities. Just like the UK, changing government guidelines meant McDonald’s Germany needed to update their opening hours on an almost daily basis. Because local store managers are always the first to know when key business information changes, they empowered them to log in to their in-house master data management system, powered by Uberall, and update the information quickly. This meant that McDonald’s could quickly and efficiently manage data for their almost 1,500 locations in Germany. As everybody was working from a centralized data management system, they were able to stay agile and consistently provide online store information that customers could trust.

For global organizations, ensuring data accuracy across each and every location is no easy feat. But doing so is essential to build and maintain global brand trust amongst local consumers and drive foot traffic.

Strengthen brand health through reputation management and social media

Another key aspect of brand experience is consumer engagement via online reviews and social media. Managing local reviews and engaging on social media effectively can pose unique challenges, as it can be difficult to know who should be engaging with local customers and how to do so at scale, whilst still maintaining brand ethos and identity.

However, online reviews and social media are golden opportunities for brands to interact with consumers the most directly, and, if well-executed, are a crucial way to turn those interested consumers into customers and advocates.

Depending on their aims and goals, brands can manage brand reputation and social media entirely at the global level, or choose to empower local owners/operators with more independent control. Regardless of the strategy, given the breadth and sheer volume of online reviews and social media interactions, a manual approach simply isn’t feasible.

Instead, brands can use digital solutions to manage and shape their online reputation and customer engagement, allowing corporate control but providing local teams with access to online interactions as needed. By utilising a platform that makes it easy and simple to respond, backed by clear guidance and communication about core messaging, brands can make certain that their brand experience is consistent and compelling from global to local.

Conclusion

Today’s commercial landscape calls for a modernised approach to brand experience. Brands that are able to utilise the right technology tools, processes and feedback loops will be able to achieve an outstanding NMBX for consumers at hundreds, and even thousands, of locations.

While global brand reputation will always be important, when it comes to fostering growth, brands must also focus on improving the brand experience at the individual store level. After all, no matter how good a brand is at creating an image of quality, consistency, and trust, if a customer’s experience doesn’t match that promise, they won’t be a customer for long.

By Paul O’Donoghue

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Brand Master Academy

Learn what brand experience is to design a journey that leads to the successful outcome your brand offers. —————-FREE BRAND STRATEGY RESOURCES——————– // PRO BRAND STRATEGY BLUEPRINT Download your FREE Pro Brand Strategy Blueprint here: https://brandmasteracademy.com/brand-… Step-by-step brand strategy development process // BECOME A BRAND STRATEGIST Take a FREE look inside our flagship training Brand Master Secrets – All you need to level up to brand strategy and become a brand strategist. https://brandmasteracademy.com/brand-… Our flagship training “Brand Master Secrets” has everything you need to become an in-demand brand strategist, raise your expert profile, and grow your branding revenue and business. // BRAND MASTER ACADEMY Brand Master Academy is where brand builders go-to for actionable tips and techniques to, Learn Brand Strategy, Help Their Clients On A Higher Level, Raise Their Expert Profile & Branding Revenue. —————- LEARN BRAND STRATEGY IN THE COMMUNITIES ——————– // BRAND MASTER ACADEMY ON SOCIAL Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/brandmaster… Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/brandmast… Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-h… Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBFW… Twitter – https://twitter.com/BrandMasterAcad // JOIN THE FACEBOOK COMMUNITY https://www.facebook.com/groups/brand… Join in the conversation with other experienced and budding brand strategists to enhance your brand building systems. // EXCLUSIVE TIPS & TECHNIQUES https://brandmasteracademy.com/subscr… Get on the list for exclusive brand strategy tips and techniques —————- LISTEN TO THE BRAND MASTER PODCAST ——————– The Brand Master Podcast is a show specialized in helping professional brand builders and entrepreneurs to build brands using strategy, psychology, and creative thinking. [Two Shows Per Week] https://brandmasteracademy.com/brand-… About This Video: By the end of this video, you’ll understand what brand experience is, the role it plays in raising brand awareness, and converting prospects into clients. First, we’ll look at some of the terms that are often confused with brand experience and how they differ including experiential branding and brand activation. Next, you’ll discover what brand experience is and the ecosystem of touchpoints that contribute to it. Then we’ll uncover the misconceptions of what brand experience is not and understand why brand experience is so important in building modern brands. Finally, we’ll dive into what brand experience design is and take a look at a brand experience example in the form of Nespresso. 0:00 What Is Brand Experience? 1:21 What Is Brand Experience 2:24 What Is Brand Experience Is Not? 2:53 Why Is Brand Experience So Important? 4:30 WHat Is Brand Experience Design? 5:42 Example Of Brand Experience – Nespresso

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