Tablet fotografiert Bücherregal

With the invention of the printing press in Europe in the 14th century (and the much earlier inventions in China), a new age of enlightenment and information was born. The digital transformation works in similar ways: It has never been easier to obtain information on your own.

For companies, this change is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, an informed customer might be already more inclined to purchase something. He doesn’t need convincing and doesn’t need holding hands.

On the other hand, many marketing and sales methods are not working as they did before the smartphone, Google and social networks. A cold call – or even worse – a knock on the door of a potential customer rarely results in a transaction anymore because most customers like to get objective information before making a decision.

The modern worst-case scenario is a customer that knows more than the sales person.

Customer Behavior Studies Summary

Sources

  1. https://www.lsbf.org.uk/blog/news/digital-first-banks-leading-way-for-customer-service/117223
  2. https://www.acm.nl/en/publications/majority-consumers-know-switching-energy-providers-pays
  3. https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/industry-insights/nearly-50-of-consumers-believe-they-are-more-informed-than-store-associates
  4. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/consumer-business/consumer-review-8-the-growing-power-of-consumers.pdf

How can companies deal with their new, „enlightened“ customers?

  1. Don’t hoard your content and information

Marketing and sales used to treat their information like dragons treat their treasure: they collected and hoarded everything and only trickled bits of it to special leads and customers if necessary. Customers and leads had to ask for information.

That method is over. Let your customers in on all necessary information in easy, direct ways. Be generous with your know-how and your tips to show that you know what you’re talking about and are a leader in your industry.

  1. Offer information where your customers are

Honest question: who really wants to talk about contracts, mailing lists and catalogs on your doorstep with a sales rep if you can sit in front of your laptop after work and sip your tea? Companies used to decide for the customer when and how they would receive information:

  • Saturday morning at the door with a catalog
  • On your way home in the middle of the shopping promenade at an open stand with immediate conclusion of contract
  • Coincidentally always exactly during dinner at the phone

Today’s customers can do their research, comparisons and check contractual details anytime and anywhere thanks to the internet and their smartphones. Instead of being pushy, you should use the channels your customers use for their research to introduce yourself.

You don’t even have to get rid of your old content to do so. You could, for example, give homepage visitors the choice to receive your catalog for free (or a small fee that goes into a discount for the next purchase). Or you can offer personal conversations via phone or chat or even directly at your customer’s offices (for B2B-customers or for luxury goods in the B2C segment).

You can do all that, but you need to let your customer decide when and how they want to interact with you. And don’t forget to include channels that are not necessarily your own: review/rating platforms, social media, etc.

  1. Don’t ignore criticism, tend to it

Back in the days, it was very easy for companies to ignore negative customer feedback. It came via email or phone and no one else would know about it. But in the age of social media and rating platforms, everything is out in the open and is easily found with one small Google search. If you ignore those public critics, everyone sees it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to bow before every unfair criticism, on the contrary. You can show how lovely, informative and customer-centric you answer to your critics. Try to get in contact with dissatisfied customers to help make it right, listen closely when certain pain points are mentioned over and over again and show that you are willing to change.

Many companies underestimate, how positive customers regard a thoughtful response to valid criticism.

  1. Design your information not just for but with your customers

Last but not least, companies need to be able to take the customer’s viewpoint, especially when it comes to the content production. In the past, the product used to be the center piece of most marketing messages. Informational material covered all the great details and values about it. But today’s marketing needs to show what the product can do for the customer, specifically.

Additionally, the context of the product (is it lifestyle, practical, luxury, health?) is often much more interesting to the customer than the company that produces the product. If you produce BBQs, it makes much more sense to give your customers recipes, cooking techniques and tips for the care of the BBQ instead of explaining how your company came to be a hundred years ago.

Companies need to listen to their customers to know what customers want to know to make a decision. And here’s the big advantage that you only get in this day and age:

Yes, it has never been as easy for the customer to find out about companies and products. But at the same time, it has never been as easy for companies to dive into the world of the customers, to find out what they think about, what is important to them, what they like and dislike and when they follow a company account.

Use these possibilities for a better customer experience.

See how analog and digital channels can be used to reach leads and turn them into customers by giving them the choice and content that they are interested in. Download our whitepaper which includes a use case for the purchase of a car.

, ,