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It’s Not You, It’s Me: Why Brands Fail at Customer Centricity

Critical Mass, 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Andrea Lennon, Critical Mass' SVP, General Manager, APAC, on the role of 'value'

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Why Brands Fail at Customer Centricity

Customer experience is the most powerful demonstration of a brand’s value proposition. Its ability to quantify customer experience and its relationship to brand value in a way that can impact business practices is essential to building customer centricity in an organisation. Too often, there’s an underlying misperception of the customer, what he or she actually wants, and how well the brand’s value proposition addresses their needs. 

It’s possible today that customers are almost always engaged in an interaction. They look at their phones up to 150 times a day checking Facebook, comparing prices, researching travel, or paying bills. At any given moment a customer could be engaged in multiple interactions - transactional, personal, or even non-intentional. Some will be pleasant and entertaining, some rife with friction and frustration.

As businesses evaluating the receptivity of customers to our experiences and communications, the consumer journey is not only increasingly fragmented and constantly evolving but also highly individualised. A universal truth throughout the journey and its spectrum of moments is that people care about value – both price and time. Value is increasingly winning the hearts and minds of customers, particularly as it’s linked to convenience and enjoyment. What is easy? Helpful? Would I recommend it? While the concept of value will apply differently to a cosmetics brand than say, an airline, it’s still a fundamental part of customer experience that needs to be solved. And the impact of being a brand with low perceived value will affect the bottom line.


The Role of Value

The strength of a service economy is proof of how customers reward brands with a strong value proposition at their core. In Asia, start-up grocery concierge HonestBee has built an entire business model on the value of time.

HonestBee contends, “we can make time more valuable for everyone” by delivering groceries to your door within an hour. Customer-centric value proposition? Check. So why haven’t they taken over the world?

Take HonestBee’s interface where you have to choose from one of seven stores. If I know my store and I know the items I want and they are available, I should have a fairly good experience. But if I am browsing for what “looks” good to me, unsure of which store and there is inventory variability, I am going to run into some problems. In this case, the interface layer has the power to weave my needs, the concierge service, and the products into a seamless navigation delivering the ultimate expression of HonestBee’s value proposition. Unfortunately this is not the case. Looking for wine for example, the interface demands I click and navigate in and out of at least three different storefronts to see the breadth of inventory available for delivery, a clunky and time-consuming experience at best that erodes the core time-value proposition.

Using data to inform a more comprehensive view of the customer's needs, combined with a value impact analysis on business readiness in key moments, will inform the gaps and opportunities that exist to elevate the value proposition and redefine the customer experience.

To define this, we look at a myriad of sources to create a dimensional customer view using macro trends from the external world like search, social and sales activity; internal sources like app usage and transaction history; and employ innovative methods steeped in behavioural economics.

In this model, we not only see how current behaviours correlate within the customer journey, but also start to anticipate the future needs.

The summation of these sources can deliver a persona that demonstrates customer need and intent beyond the product lifecycle, but also the broader context of a customer’s life. What are the needs driven by? A new job? A new house? What is their history? Geography? How are they thinking and feeling? What is the ultimate goal and corresponding expectations that are driving the interaction?

A great example of contextual customer experience with a strong core value proposition is Marriott’s Mobile Request, an app feature that allows a guest to connect directly with a live person at the hotel pre, during, and post visit with one touch messaging.

In addition to eliminating the hurdle of finding the hotel’s phone number, this creates a much more immediate, useful, personal connection between the customer and the brand.


Andrea Lennon is SVP, General Manager, APAC at Critical Mass