You may have noticed that the equilibrium in your customer relationships has shifted. Depending upon your business, you are either on the cusp of a monumental shift in this relationship, or you are already living in a brave new world. In many industries, the customer is now firmly in charge; they have the upper hand in the relationship.
As Christine Crandall wrote in Forbes last year:
“Buyers took control when information became ubiquitous on the Web. No longer dependent upon marketing for information on trends or new ways to solve problems, and equally no longer dependent on Sales to navigate the pros and cons of solutions they were considering – buyers threw off the shackles and rewrote the rules.”
The new way of doing business is driven, obviously, by the reality of the Internet. The Internet has literally opened up the entire world for your customers. They can purchase from you, they can purchase from a competitor two time zones away that you did not even know you had, or they can purchase from a low cost provider in India. We all have competition that simply did not exist 20 years ago, and both B2C and B2B consumers are not nearly as enamored of the companies they buy from as they once were.
Consider this: French firm Havas Media Group conducted a global marketing survey that showed that individuals would not bat an eye if three-quarters of brands disappeared. In the United States and Europe, it is worse – consumers would not care if 92 percent of brands disappeared.
This means that businesses today need to adjust for this reality. There are indications that CEOs are making the shift; IBM released a study in October showing that CEOs recognize that customers exert more control over their organization than anyone in the C-suite. Consequently, they are embracing more open and collaborative relationships with their customers. They are placing customers at the center of their ecosystem, realizing that they cannot move forward if their customers do not feel as if they are part of a partnership.
This new paradigm requires empathy for your customers. More than ever before, you need to consider what your customers want and how you can situate your business to better assist them.
After all, the customer is always right. And now, the customer is your partner.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.