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By: Antonio Neto
Image Credit: Depositphotos
“Consumers, by definition, are all of us.” With that phrase, John F. Kennedy – then President of the United States – began his speech to the US Congress in what would become the mark of a new era of relationship between brands and the consumer public. Since then, the world has changed a lot. But can we say that, among these changes, companies have been able to understand and put themselves in the shoes of their customers?
The above question is especially pertinent in taking into account the hyperconnected age in which we live. Kennedy’s own quote, saying that we are all consumers, for example, has today a new meaning and a far greater scope, especially as we remember that we can interact with the whole world from a small screen that fits in the palm of our hands .
That is why, although we have made great strides in terms of consumer rights, the answer to the above-mentioned dilemma is that there is still a great way to go on this journey. We need to focus on the customer and not just the customer. This means analyzing the journey with the vision of the shopper and, with this, understanding the actual behavior of this superconsumer, who is increasingly empowered and active in his decision-making processes.
If before the brands determined how they would relate to their customers, it is now the consumers who determine how they want to approach them. Not surprisingly, surveys indicate that over 60% of customers mix online and physical experiences to decide what, when and where to buy. They are in constant contact with brands, considering their entire ecosystem, evaluating not only the products available for sales, but also the image and posture that these organizations transmit in their most diverse forms of communication and consumer support .
This is a new scenario, which includes a Customer Centric approach, in which customers themselves decide which shopping and service channels they want to use. The challenge, therefore, is not only to expand the number of relationship points with the public, but also to provide a unique degree of customization to interactions across all of these platforms. This implies, in turn, to realize that each means of communication has its peculiarities and that, essentially, each consumer is unique.
Despite so many changes and new developments seen today, it is important that companies do not forget what Kennedy said. After all, the ideas presented in that March 1962 are very current. In his speech, for example, the president emphasized that effective client protection depends on four basic rights: the right to security; the information; of choice; and finally the right to be heard – so important and sometimes so forgotten in our day to day.
Clearly these four points continue to make total sense in today’s marketplace and need to be observed as the basis for any Customer Experience front or initiative. In an era marked by the advance of the internet, with its excess of information, and the exponential increase of options available to people, companies have a duty to contribute to the actual functioning of consumer protection guarantees.
It is worth saying, however, that this is not a period composed only of challenges. We’ve been hiking a lot in the last few years – and we have to value that. Here in Brazil, for example, we created our consumer protection code and protection programs, defined new rules of conduct, among other advances. Technology has also helped accelerate support and service processes, creating more uniform, innovative and skilled methods. Thus, moving towards the best consumer treatment.
In this sense, organizations must adopt a holistic vision that helps in the adoption of tools and procedures that, in fact, stimulate the security and satisfaction of the consumer in all its stages of purchase. We can say that if the demand is great in the choice of product or service, the same pattern is demanded in the post-purchase interactions. Understanding the shopper’s journey and recognizing their demands and questions is essential so that the company is better able to anticipate and fully meet their requests.
Companies need to deliver a truly innovative shopping experience that fits consumers’ desires – far beyond “consumer month” promotions. This has been one of Kennedy’s main messages for more than 50 years. Thus, in addition to protecting those who are buying, companies can position themselves with prominence and establish themselves in this new moment of society.
Only a strong brand and especially respected and admired by consumers is able to follow and grow in this scenario at any time. Every company has its future based on its relationship with consumers. Therefore, your expectations need to be heard and answered today, tomorrow and always.
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