“The Customer is always right” – a truth we have learned from our grandparents. But in today’s digital world, the status of the customer is changing. More than being right, today’s customer is also your business partner, your strategist and your mentor.
The roles have changed. No longer is business only about providing quality services or products to the consumer. It is about researching customers’ needs and preferences and then finding a product or way to comply with these. Businesses not willing to adapt to this new way of thinking might soon be in trouble.
Easy access to information and products makes instant gratification almost a prerequisite. Customers are used to getting what they want with the least possible resistance. If not with you, then with someone else. But the consumers of tomorrow not only want to determine your business and way of operating, they also still value the traditional sentiment of red carpet treatment – in today’s jargon, the experience.
So what are businesses to do? Lulie Halstead of Wine Intelligence shared her thoughts on Wine and Society in 2030 at a recent industry information day. She listed six A’s businesses will have to keep in mind, leading up to 2030. They are already important, but I guess they will just increasingly become part of successful future business strategy involving customers in every step of the way.
- Awareness – brand recognition is the goal and dream of any business, but in a commoditised environment, achieving brand recognition and loyalty stay a challenge. In my opinion, creating a strong wine brand is exceptionally difficult. Of course you have the world-renowned French Châteaux but for the average wine drinker the subtle differences between most wines do not bring enough differentiation to ensure strong brand recognition. Wine does have the experiental factor though. Creating memories around a product whether it is in the environment of the wine estate or in a restaurant somewhere across the globe, wine’s tourism and experience aspect, gives it an opportunity for brand recognition.
- Availability – as purchase patterns are changing, businesses might have to reconsider both their selection and their way of selling. It is about having the product the customer want and also about how conveniently the customer can get it. The whole process should be easy, simple, quick and accessible. The format of business is determined by the consumer.
- Accountability – sustainability and environmental accountability will increasingly be a prerequisite for a successful business. Traceability, reduction of packaging, repurposing of waste, etc. will become non-negotiable.
- Accommodating – being sensitive about gender, race and preference is very important in any business.
- Affluence – although a very relative term, affluence brings choice and with technology development and customer focus, product augmentation is a reality.
- Adaptability – there is no denying that we will have to adapt with the times. Being open-minded and allowing fusion will be of the utmost importance.
- CEO’s are responsible for an organisation’s culture, structures and processes and “sets the tone for your entire company” as these programmes are key in enabling customer satisfaction.
- Time is precious and therefore “personalization is the best marketing investment you could make.” Save customer’s precious time, by ensuring they get experiences and information relevant to them.
- Artificial intelligence is not a threat. “Decisioning can help create that sought after personalized customer experience.” AI is here to stay, so we can just as well make it work for us and help understand and determine customer needs and desires.
- An integrated marketing approach is key. The database has become a much more complex marketing tool and should combine “customer data, digital experience and personalization to create an efficient, modern way to manage interactions with customers.”
- The world is digital, but you still can’t smell the perfume or fit the trousers in cyberspace, can you? This is changing with Augmented Reality creating a virtual experience. “Augmented Reality gives an accurate prediction of what a customer can expect.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The new all-involving way customers are shaping out businesses just confirms the old saying, “Customer is King”!