January 16, 2014

Enhancing the Customer Experience through Social

Original article was written for Business2Community.

Marketing has always been about driving your brand towards your customers and reaching out your messaging through various channels that have been available to marketers across various eras of marketing. Be it any tools that traditional marketers have used or media they chose to engage with their customers, it was always about talking to them and trying to deliver your communication with the best impact possible. Throughout time, the struggle has always been about creating a recall value for your brand and letting your customers know what you aspire to do for them and how the brand could change their life. The AIDA model as popularly known always looked to reach out to your audience by creating awareness, generating interest, desire and then get them to act upon your marketing messages to finally buy your product. But sometimes, in today's era, I ask myself this question, "Is it only about creating an awareness through generating interest and then creating that desire?" The answer, as much as I try to resonate with what's happening out there, is always different.

How so? You may ask, what has changed in this current scenario and what is making the difference in today's customer as opposed to the earlier ones. There lies the answer. Your customer today has become a lot more aware of his surroundings and a lot more intelligent than you thought they were. The idea is not to create awareness as he's already aware of what's out there in the market. Probably focus groups are not the best way to approach your customer because, your market is so vast and the intelligence and emotional quotient of your customer is so disparate that you'll hardly be able to nail it when it comes to the messaging. Your customer doesn't need to be told what they want. They already know it. Your customer doesn't need to focus so much on generating that interest as he already has a keen attachment, affinity and attachment in the kind of products he consumes. Your customer most of all, doesn't need to really know what he's buying, cause he's already made up his mind!

So what we need today is creating an enhanced customer experience in the products he uses and giving him a dose of that enhancement you shall add to his lifestyle by pitching your product to him. Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, or drives to generate the awareness of what features your product focuses on, your ability to create an innate sense of desire, a sense of fulfilment and a sense of overall satisfaction the customer shall get by using your products is what is the need of the hour. Top technology brands like Apple, Samsung, Sony have tried to focus on these aspects more than anybody else. In fact, smaller brands in different spaces like Uber, AirBnB, Pebble, Blend Tech, Fitbit, have always aspired to create that innovative desire to give the customers something different and something worth imbibing into their lifestyle. At the end of the day, what's important for brands to understand is to disrupt the equation, create something innovative and build a desire to not just 'want to use your product' but to create a 'need for your product.' Many local brands are doing that really well if I may say. Coffee shops giving free Coffee but charging for WiFi because the need of the customer is not coffee, but a place to sit and indulge himself on his smartphone, tablet or laptop while finding an excuse to go somewhere out there and work is what brands should realize. As a customer, I don't need to buy smart products, I need products that will make my life smarter. Wearables have become the talk of the town and this technology is here to stay, especially after #CES2014.

What brands should realize is that the innovation is required not because people want to be aware of something that they didn't know, but something that will innovate and make their lives simpler. Innovation has become a tool to help customers aspire for things they didn't know existed or didn't imagine to change their lives for the better. Marketers need to understand that and try to change their way of thinking. Rather than focus on traditional surveys, target demographic profiling or building a messaging of the brand via identifying, breaking down and building a great marketing strategy to let their customers know about their products, they should simply inspire people to think differently and boom! Your product is sold! Innovations from KickstarterIndiegogo are getting so much traction that traditional product builders would wonder, how the space has shifted. More than the marketing aspect, the customer experience has become BIG! Are you ready for that change? Is your brand doing something different to create that great customer experience in this socially connected world? A question I always want to ask myself while working on my brands. What about you?

Image Credit: Social4ce
Srinivas has been a communications professional for over 15 years. He has worked with and built India's largest digital agencies from the ground up and been part of their acquistion journey. Social Wavelegnth (now Mirum, part of the WPP group) and Kinnect, now part of the Interpublic Group (IPG). He's also been a public speaker, keynote speaker at various large panels/events of the likes of BBC Knowledge Summit, Blockchain Summit Bangalore. And has been a guest lecturer at IIM, Symbiosis, Indian Institute of Digital Education.
He has been blogging since 2005. And also been author at various publications, that include Startup India by ZDNet, Social Samosa, Lighthouse Insights.  His passion for Writing, Advertising, Creativity, Digital, Blockchain and Future Tech is what drives him each day.