Being Shopper-Centric is a term that is used more often these days. But do organizations have this mindset and is it embedded in the corporate culture? The answer to this question is usually a big NO.
It doesn’t matter whether your company operates as a B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer) entity or both, being shopper-centric starts with your internal customer service.
Let me define what I mean by the shopper. Shoppers in our consulting business mean every person or entity that interacts or buys or will potentially be in contact in some way with your product, service, or company.
Shopper-centric branding is viewed as a marketing strategy that focuses on the customer and their needs, desires, and preferences. This approach is structured to create a brand image and reputation that is aligned with the customer’s needs and expectations.
By doing so, companies hope to build solid and loyal relationships with their customers and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
So far, so good, and is it obvious, however, when push comes to shove, companies fall short, and the shopper will call you out on it.
The disconnect of the Shopper-Centric mindset
Despite the lack of mindset within the organizations, let me start with the most common pitfalls that cause this disconnect and why many companies still struggle to get it right.
It doesn’t matter if your company is small or large, many of the reasons apply to any business. Some of these situations may apply to your own business.
1. Shopper-Centric resources
Many businesses lack the resources and expertise to effectively implement a shopper-centric branding strategy, or apply the resources inefficiently.
The budget for marketing and research is applied almost entirely towards marketing, leaving very little for research. This can make it difficult for companies like yours to understand your customers and create a brand image that is aligned with their needs and preferences.
It happens so often; companies want to make an impact fast and do not invest the proper time and resources in gathering data from clients about their needs, wants, and pain points when it comes to your brand, product, or services.
2. Shopper-Centric technology
Technology is important to gather the correct data. As I clarified in the previous section, it is essential to base decisions on correct and reliable data. And data comes from two sources, external market and shopper data, and internal processes data.
I have seen it repeatedly in small and even large corporations. There is a lack of correct data gathering in the organizations. It might be that the data flow is not well-defined throughout the value chain or other parts of the company. Or there might be data being recorded that might not be useful for your overall strategy.
Either way, you must define the data that is most significant for your company to make decisions aligned with your initiatives to your shopper-centric strategy and put the best technology behind it.
And by the best technology, I don’t mean the most expensive one. Do some research and get the right tools to get the proper data you need.
3. Shopper-Centric products or brands
Many companies have a product-first approach, rather than a shopper-first approach.
They may believe that offering the best products or services is enough to attract and retain customers. This might work for a while if you have very little competition. However, shoppers today are looking for more than just high-quality products and services. They want to feel valued and understood, and they aim to have a positive experience with the brands, products, or services they buy.
This brings me to the main point of this blog.
Shopper-Centric CX from within
Shopper-Centric branding cannot exist if there is no good and healthy CX (Customer Experience) among the internal customers in the organization.
Yes, this is where it all has to start.
The flow of information and interaction between all parts of the value chain and their supporting departments must be flawless. Everyone must know exactly how they contribute to the success of the company.
Shopper-centric branding is a trickle-down effect that must start with the purpose of the company and find a holistic way to convert it into the living and breathing purpose of every employee of the organization.
1. Become Shopper-centric, starting with internal customer service
Aligning customer service within your organization is crucial for creating a positive customer experience and building a strong reputation for your brand.
Here are some steps that your organization can take to align your customer service efforts:
Start with a clear vision and mission: The first step in aligning customer service is to establish a clear vision and mission for your organization that puts customer satisfaction first. This vision should be communicated throughout the organization and serve as the foundation for all customer service efforts.
Every department needs to understand how its role supports the overall customer experience.
Train employees: All employees, from the front-line customer service staff to the executives, should receive training on customer service best practices, including how to handle difficult situations and how to make the customer feel valued. This training should be ongoing to ensure that all employees are up-to-date on the latest customer service techniques.
Empower your employees, but hold them accountable for their initiatives.
Create a customer-focused culture: Your organization should strive to create a culture that values and prioritizes the customer. This can be done by establishing customer service as a core part of your organization’s values, and by recognizing and rewarding employees who go above and beyond in their customer service efforts.
Use customer feedback: Your employees should actively seek customer feedback and use this information to improve their customer service efforts. This feedback can come from customer surveys, complaints and compliments logs, and other sources.
Your organizations should use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and make changes to better meet the needs of your customers.
Continuously evaluate and improve: Your company should continuously evaluate its customer service efforts and make improvements as necessary. Have the proper data measuring technology in place to be able to see where your organization is falling short.
2. Be Shopper-Centric with the final shopper
Once the customer service efforts within your organization are aligned, it is important to carry this forward to the final shopper. Whether being a B2B or a B2C company, this can be done by applying these tactics:
Providing a seamless customer experience: Your company should ensure that the shopper experience is consistent and seamless, regardless of the channel or touchpoint. This includes providing consistent information, using a common language, and ensuring that customer interactions are seamless and hassle-free.
Fostering customer loyalty: Your organization should strive to build strong, long-lasting relationships with its shoppers. This can be done by providing exceptional customer service, being responsive to shopper needs and concerns, and offering value-added services and benefits.
Listening to and responding to customer feedback: Your company should always seek and respond to shopper feedback, both positive and negative. This feedback can provide valuable insights into what customers value and what can be improved. It also, helps your organization to continuously improve its customer service efforts.
By aligning customer service efforts within the organization and carrying this forward to the final customer, you can create a positive customer experience, foster customer loyalty, and build a strong reputation for your brand.
Remember that in today’s digital era where information moves rapidly, brands do not control the rhetoric of what is said about them. This power has been taken from you by the shopper.
To succeed, you need to always have a shopper-centric mindset and tap into the ongoing conversation and influence your audience with the guiding purpose of your brand, and most importantly, deliver on your brand promise. If you don’t walk the talk, your brand perception will suffer.