Think of your own experiences interacting with your favorite businesses. You probably like them because they make it easy to do business with them, communicate with you through your preferred methods, and make recommendations at the right times.
Over the last two years, customers’ wants and needs have changed. Their purchasing habits have changed. Even for people committed to shopping locally, they want to find out what a store has available online and often would prefer home delivery.
I’m a passionate advocate for locally owned businesses, AND am not interested in driving around to find out what is available.
Are you losing customers and orders to Amazon or chains because you are not meeting customers’ needs today?
It is interesting to see how the customer-centric approach has turned a 360 – what once seemed like an old way of reaching customers has become the norm again.
What is a Customer-Centric Approach?
It’s putting your customer at the center of your business strategy. Who are your best customers? What do they need? How do they want to receive what you offer?
Up until the 1950’s or so, milk was delivered to your door every morning. As prices, wages and transportation options increased, people started going to a local grocery store to buy milk and other items when they needed them, rather than having them delivered to their door.
Now, thanks to Amazon, and accelerated during the pandemic, we’ve gone back to wanting to have everything come to our home. Meal delivery companies have flourished over the last couple of years. Farm collectives organized and increased distributing fresh food boxes in urban centers.
We have UberEats, Door Dash and Skip the Dishes (and possibly more!) as well as delivery apps for groceries.
It’s a similar situation for medical care. Years ago, doctors used to make house calls. This model became almost obsolete when office-centered medicine and mega health systems took over. By 1980, house calls had decreased to less than 1% of doctor-patient interactions. Patients had to leave their homes to wait in doctors’ waiting rooms at the clinic, and then visit the pharmacy, even if they just wanted to refill a prescription.
Today, house calls are making a comeback, not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic but also by the need to address multiple barriers to healthcare access. Even medication adherence platforms engage patients, physicians, and pharmacists to work together to test and treat symptoms. The evolving habits of patients using smartphone apps and on-demand devices also led to the growth of on-demand, app-based doctor house calls as a viable alternative. Medicine is moving toward being patient-centric again.
People have come to expect technologies that make it easier to find and get what they want. What does all of this mean for your business?
Are you meeting your customers where they are?
Are you capturing, tracking and analyzing your customer data? Do you and your team know who your best customers are? Does your team pay attention to what your customers are saying is most important to them (Hint: What they appreciate and say thank you for)?
Is it easy for them to find what you offer and purchase from you online, even if your market is local? Do you offer home delivery services? How often do your customers hear from you and special offers tailored to them?
Personalize Your Digital Marketing
Customers want an experience that makes them feel known and appreciated. Where are your customers? Do they use social media (most do!). Are you posting interesting information and tips? Are you ‘bragging’ about what you create?
People want to hear from you! Especially when it appeals to their interests. Bistro duPain is a small french bakery that opened May 2020. They have built a thriving base of raving fans largely by posting delicious mouth watering goodies on Facebook and Instagram. They still don’t have a website! Any specials or changes in operating hours are posted on their social channels, and they are very responsive to messages on Messenger.
And while none of us want more emails, I do enjoy receiving information or special offers from companies I like and frequent. I want to know if they have a big sale coming up. I’d like to hear about new products they are carrying. Make it all about what’s of value for your customers and people will look forward to emails from you.
Speak Their Language
The better you get to know and understand your customer, the more informed decisions you’ll make that will help you build a stand-out brand. Pay attention (and train your team to pay attention) to the words your customers use.
Pay attention to feedback
Every interaction with a customer communicates what they like, what they don’t like, and what’s important to them. What are common questions that get asked? What are products customers don’t understand? Or don’t know where to find?
Ask lots of questions – what do your customers like? What would they like to see more of? What are their challenges? Encourage feedback and suggestions. Your customers feeling comfortable to share with you and your team is a gold mine for the business. Solving your customers’ problems is your company’s opportunity for growth.
What customers want and are looking for has changed over the last few years. Have you adjusted your business to meet their needs?