Four Strategic Brand Insights for Collaborative Customer Communication

Everyone’s talking customer collaboration. Adobe’s blog post Customers Don’t Want to be Marketed to and That’s Great shares important insight on the state of the customer’s expectations from marketers. Shifting from marketing at customers to providing value to customers through meaningful conversations leads to increased word of mouth. The customer journey is becoming fluid with a set expectation that a company will listen, and respond appropriately. The customer’s wants, needs and desires are being formed on a whim, as they proactively seek information to make informed purchasing decisions.

FutureLab’s The DNA of a Successful Customer Experience shares a strong summary of Nunwood’s 2015 US Customer Experience Excellence Report. This report assesses brands on six pillars of customer experience: personalization, integrity, time and effort, expectations, resolutions and empathy. The 10 companies that scored the highest on these pillars had almost 10 times greater increase in share price than the average company. Seems worth it to me.

How can you extend the pillars of a great customer experience into your communications campaigns and provide an online collaboration experience that supports the current customer expectations. Here are four steps to get you started.

See Customers With a Beginner’s Mind

When it comes to customers, stop making assumptions. Bring a fresh mind to the table by listening with authentic interest, not to find data to support your hypothesis. A little old fashioned research may be in order in the form of focus groups, surveys, customer boards and roundtable discussions. Leverage social media monitoring, LinkedIn groups and influencer audits to look for insights. Throw out open-ended questions and see what returns. It is also wise to have someone outside of sales periodically talk to prospects and customers.

Understand Your Connection Points

Technology makes it possible to find a whole slew of data. Integrating your marketing analytics and marketing automation tools to leverage and include media coverage and social media can show marketers how to respond meaningfully, and to create new connection points. Where are your customers coming from?

What are the moments along the customer journey that demand a shift in content and an opportunity to respond with something meaningful? Ever since Google published the eBook, Winning in the Zero Moment of Truth, all marketing, public relations, social and digital professionals are looking for those moments. Google’s Micromoments promises to deliver more data in that arena.

Align the Brand with the Journey

When you are creating a brand, the new marketing environment requires a multi-level conceptual brand. You must segment the customer and segment the journey to properly segment the brand. Understand the marketing fundamental of segmentation and how each segment experiences the sales process from problem awareness, to evaluation, to preference to choice and action. The brand needs to tell the story – from needs to dreams. The brand should create a vision for customer happiness.

Craft Clarity of Value

What is real value? How can you help customers understand and connect the dots to meaningful value? Your content must speak in layers. Customers are seeking information, versus having information pushed to them. What value are they seeking? Knowing this can create clarity in the connection between value and brand. It is not about just creating a brand feeling, brands must be expressed so they incite a customer to favor your brand, and then purchase.

When your company’s communications consider these four factors, you will be on the right path to market with your customers, not market at them.