Customer Obsession: The Name of the Game

Forrester snipAccess to information and low switching costs between products and services means we’ve moved from the digital age to the age of customer obsession, so argues Forrester Research at its 2016 Marketing conference.

Forrester argues that weaving digital into your experience has become table stakes for most any business. In the post-digital, customer-obsessed era, businesses must differentiate by using technology to become more human (i.e. more authentic, empathetic and inclusive), more helpful (i.e. to adopt a “doer” demeanor, building useful experiences and accounting for your brand promise) and more handy (cooperate productively, thrive in dynamic market conditions, and accommodate dynamic user needs).

Here are several takeaways from Forrester Marketing 2016 that will help organizations thrive in the customer-obsessed era.

Persona Development

Empowered buyers demand new levels of experience. That means companies must deeply understand their customers. Go Daddy offered an amazing example of how it’s using technology to better understand and connect with customers.

The online registrar has developed algorithms that automatically generate personas based on demographics, psychographics and other data sets. The company has more than 10,000 personas today, with aspirations of building out more than a million. It’s advertising engine then automates the production of ads, which align with each persona’s purchasing drivers and emotionally connects with their core attributes. Through the power of segmentation and automation, Go Daddy can personally connect with the pizza shop owner in New York and the dog walker in Des Moines.

Organizational Change

Meeting the needs of empowered customers directly impacts the entire organization, not just the marketing and communications function. What does being customer obsessed mean for an organization’s culture, talent, processes, technology needs, structure and metrics?

A lot.

Companies like Uber, WhatsApp and Tesla have disrupted industries by building companies from the ground up that obsessively use technology to put customers in control.

And those traditional companies most likely to succeed over the next 20 years are adapting their businesses to become more customer obsessed, too. They are not simply adding bolt-on technology apps. They are using technology to enhance the experience and enjoyment of their brands. They are furthering their brand promise with technology in very natural ways.

Consider MGM Grand and Under Armour, which are reimagining their businesses as technology companies, not traditional hospitality or sportswear companies. MGM uses technology to send timely messages based on guests’ likely needs (e.g. offer for a hangover kit once their room alarm goes off). And Under Armour launched the Health & Fitness Network to create a fitness community, not just sell products.

Experience Over Advertisements

According to Forrester, more than 80 percent of marketing dollars go toward on and offline advertising. At the same time, nearly 90 percent of consumers say advertising has little influence on their decision-making. While amazing progress has been made developing hyper-targeted personas and being able to serve digital ads at the right time, ads are not nearly as powerful as creating contextually relevant interactions across the customer life cycle. Companies that win will become more naturally integrated into their customers’ lives.

Consider Amazon Echo. The closest thing to artificial intelligence (AI) on the market today, the Echo is an always-on, voice controlled speaker that can do every thing from order you a pizza to play your favorite song to send you a product from Amazon to update you on the weather. All you have to do is walk in the room and ask. This is a brilliant example of thinking beyond the advertisement. With Echo, Amazon becomes a physical resource inside consumers’ homes that changes the way customers live in a very positive way.

Welcome to the Post-Digital World

Empowered by technologies, customers have greater expectations and independence. They also have fragmented attention. Marketers must leverage technologies to better understand their prospects and customers, as well as create more purposeful experiences to further their brand promise.


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