What does it mean to be relevant to your customers? “Relevant” means applicable to, pertinent to, connected with the matter at hand. Your matter at hand is obviously your customers, and your offering should be applicable to them. If your brand claims to be customer-focused, then your offering should provide what is trending with customers at the present moment, not what they liked a year ago.
Customer trend ignorers
Some of the most prosperous brands found themselves in self-destruct mode during the recession – not because people stopped spending money, but because they stopped paying attention to how their market was changing. They grew complacent and wouldn’t change as their customers changed. They lost their relevance. (e.g., Circuit City or Blockbuster)
Customer trend watchers
So how did other companies rise to power during that time of financial strain? They became relevant. They watched the trends and gave the market what they hungered for. They even saw into the future and influenced the coming trends. (e.g., Amazon)
Relevant customer service
The next wave in customer service is brought to us by AI (artificial intelligence). Robots can be taught and can learn on their own the needs of customers and how to answer their questions. Yet, a brand who thinks they’re staying relevant just by putting chatbots on their site is sorely misunderstanding today’s customer. Not only do we like the latest techy gadget out there, but we cling to human connection – quite the opposite of the former. Our addiction to social media alone should tell brands that society needs to be acknowledged (or liked) and they want people to interact with them. Granted, it’s not necessarily face-to-face, but it’s connection.
Hey, your robot is in my human! No, your human is in my robot!
A smart brand will take those two vastly different trends and combine them to meet both ends of the market – artificially intelligent self-service and live, human interaction. (e.g., virtual assistance and live chat) It is possible to keep cutting-edge customer experience technology relevant to what customers want – by using intelligent self-service with the option to connect with a real person. Adding advanced technology to human interaction does not take away from the customer focus; rather, adding experienced human interaction to highly advanced technology intensifies the customer focus. That is why Nuance caught the attention of top industry analysts in 2017 CRM Service Leader awards. We stay relevant to the customer by giving them the sophisticated technology they seek and the human touch they crave.
What trend could your brand leverage to be relevant and become the brand of choice?
As you think about that, I’ll leave you with the following list written by Leigh Buchanan of Inc. magazine:
Ten ways companies remain relevant
- They see their past, present and future as a continuous arc and understand what made them successful at each juncture.
- They are shrewd consumers of technology, adopting and customizing new platforms as applications for customers become apparent.
- They pay attention and respond to societal changes.
- They study new entrants closely but avoid knee-jerk reactions; some of those new players might become partners rather than competitors.
- They practice a kind of perpetual beta with customers, working together closely so that both sides learn from each other.
- They seek new partnerships and the perspective of outsiders.
- They become thought leaders in their fields.
- They listen to their young employees.
- They improvise and innovate on core strengths, rather than blow up everything and start again.
- They remain true to foundational values.