Four reasons why a customer centric approach is key to building brand affinity
The importance of the customer is increasingly becoming a hot topic at board level. In the past 18 months we have seen a number of big brands including high street stalwart John Lewis invest in senior roles such as the Customer Director. However, whilst this highlights a step change in the way brands are shaping their strategies and looking at adopting a far more customer centric approach, brands need to think about the impact this has on their entire business, it shouldn’t just be isolated to the marketing department.
If brands are truly thinking about their customers in meaningful way they are likely to strengthen the relationship they have with them. With this in mind, here are our four reasons why a customer centric approach is key to building brand affinity.
Customers want to feel valued and listened to
Whenever a customer interacts with a brand they want to feel like the interaction is benefiting them in some way. They equally want to know that they have been listened to.
In the omnichannel world consumers are increasingly sharing more and more data with the companies they interact with both on- and offline. Whilst some consumers still remain sceptical about the amount of information they share, they all expect to get something in return for the information they pass on.
Brands therefore need to make sure that every time they address their customers they are constantly adding value to their lives and acknowledging the signals they have given off.
Being customer centric is all about utilising data to enhance experiences. Constantly evaluating those experiences is crucial to building long-term relationships. If processes are not adapted, the extent to which they will continue to remain relevant will be diminished.
The power of data and its impact on the business
A customer centric approach allows you to gain a far richer understanding of who your customers are. This not only helps to shape the content and messages you send to them but it can also transform the way you can conduct yourself as a business, which in turn can dramatically impact the level of service you provide them.
Brands that capture data about the individual preferences of their customers need to make this information available to every single department within the business. This data can provide vital insight into the decisions businesses need to make in order to transform not only the service they offer to customers, but the products they sell and the development of the brand.
In the apparel retail space, understanding the types of garments customers want to buy, coupled with details on which styles and sizes are the best sellers, allows for more informed decisions to be made by the product development teams. This consequently allows retailers to ensure they are always stocking products which are relevant to their customers and maximising the sales opportunities of their stock.
Uniting the off- and online experience
With consumers increasingly spending more online, retailers need to gain an understanding of all aspects of the customer journey. As a result they need to gain clarity on how their offline behaviours are influencing and shaping the decisions they make online.
By connecting the dots in this way, brands and retailers can get a far fuller picture of the individual needs and preferences of their customer base. This enables retailers to create a seamless experience for customers. When a customer interacts with a brand or retailer they don’t want to have to jump through unnecessary hoops to find what they are looking for. They want the process to be as streamlined as possible. If any aspect of this journey is fragmented or disjointed it’s going to leave people disengaged.
The importance of personalisation
In the apparel retail space this is critical. The clothes we choose to wear are a clear reflection of who we are as individuals. As a result finding the right items to suit a particular occasion is high on the agenda. With the right technology and data, retailers are now increasingly able to present specific recommendations to customers at an individual level as they search for specific types of garments.
Whilst this is very much a long-term and sophisticated strategy, personalised shopping recommendations beyond highly targeted marketing campaigns are starting to emerge at specialist retailers like Thomas Pink and Hawes & Curtis.
Retailers that are starting to evaluate the extent to which they are customer centric therefore need to recognise this emerging trend and start looking at how they can make the necessary changes required to adapt their approach accordingly.
The future of apparel retail will be determined by the brands that are truly customer centric, recognising its importance at board level is one thing, but implanting changes which affect the conduct of the entire business is what will allow that strategic move to deliver long-term value and establish customer/brand affinity.