We have all seen lot of talk in past year or so on Mobile First Strategy or even Mobile only strategy! In fact we even saw one large e-commerce company making huge media blitz on ‘mobile only’ strategy and then realized “WTH” happened? Who came up with this ridicules idea. Roll it back now! Where is our website? Get it up and running NOW!” Really! Wasn't this in the making for several months? Didn't you plan a year ahead and spent few millions? And who are you calling names now? The CEO, the Board, the core team or the guy who was your blue eyed till last week and who you just fired? Isn’t the entire management team and board was involved in approval process?
This is what happens when a company unilaterally decides to goes one way or other without finding the right way. The right way is the “Customer First” strategy! There are more than 3.3 billion people online today and for any company they are all potential customers, they should come first. So it is not prudent for CEO/CMO to decide whom (customers) to include and whom to exclude or even formulate a process to prioritize a set of customers. However if one has the “Customer First” in mind, everything else can be built around them! Irrespective of the nature of business, “Customer first” should be the strategy. “Customer First” keeps customer in center and one can visualize everything around them, literally. If not, there is something wrong with the business as a whole. Let me try and break some myths here when applying the “Customer First” strategy!
We are B2B: Great! Customers have customers!! Not knowing a customers’ customer is like chasing a shadow in a dark alley! As a B2B business, the real job is to help the customer help their customers. So one should have all the business to know about the end customer, keep in mind their “Customer First” while thinking about ‘what first’! Take example of Dupont! They have never made anything for consumers directly. However they have created great products that have helped their customer build lots & lots of consumer product. Remember Non Stick Cookware. Yes it was Dupont that invested in Non Stick Chemical, used by thousands of manufacturers around the world to make Non Stick Utensils! This tells how one has to think about “Customer First” as B2B (or in other words always think B2B2C).
We are an offline store!: So go online! Help customers discover your offline business by connecting with them online. Today many customers are using online info to buy things offline! So go and post all the information online that would make customer visit the store. Example, for offline grocery store, one can put the entire inventory online with its in-store location, price, quantity, new arrivals, offers etc. etc.. By providing the customer with all the information online, before they visit the store, one can ensure that they walk into the said store know what to do quickly and efficiently. By providing all info online in an app, as it is already available in ERP/CRM or in the stores computer system, one is making the customers life easy! All it needs is an integration by IT department to put that information in a presentable manner to help customer discover what they need even before they enter the store. Now one is really thinking “Customer First” as it helps customer make informed decision in shorter duration and they may end up spending more time looking at things that may not have been on their list! So for any offline business going online it should be a “Customer First” strategy! Mobile or a website is just touch points!
We want to but we don't know our customers: If one is thinking of “Customers First”, one has to know them! By being online and helping them as stated above, one is creating a reciprocal relationship. If a company is providing enough information for them to make an informed decision, they would not hesitate to provide more information on themselves. It is human nature to trust others when they are transparent and helpful. So one could take their permission or directly collection information from customers in return for further help . By employing data analytics, Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, one can easily build intelligence about each and every customer! The same intelligence can be used to provide more information to help customers in their decision making. However there are rules of engagement like only ask permission that is really needed and provide information on demand. DO NOT BOMBARD the customer with emails, text and all other kinds of notification. Treat them with respect and provide information when they engage online. For example, if a online user in on your website, say hello and wish them! Let them respond and ask for information instead of throwing them an unwanted call. Yes I am suggesting use of data analysis to understand the customers fo “Customer First” strategy
My Customer doesn't respond to my communication: Of course the customers will avoid any attempt to connect online if they have not granted permission! As I said earlier, it is give and take relationship! One needs to provide useful, real-time and accurate information to gain trust and respect of a customer for providing access to their communication channel. Else it is like you trying to talk to girl on a street! Irrespective of the best of the pickup lines, the probability of rejection is almost 100%! In fact, chances of her getting offended are higher and so is it with the customer! The job here is to provide all information, in real time, online and accurate to create an environment of trust for them to come and fetch it! This is “Customer First “ strategy! The focus should be on understanding the need by interacting with the customer once the visit the premise, physical or virtual. Next provide them the value that they will appreciate and will open up and interact. After all who doesn't like talking to people who respect their privacy, provide product that have real value (not related to price or deep discount) and are always ready to listen.
Lastly, many of us build a business when they find a problem! It is always a good strategy but more than often, people start to forget that they are the “Customers First”! They deploy all their energy in building a solution from a business point of view rather then solving problem as a “Customer First”! So people, when one is starting up, the thought to always carry in front is that the “Customer First” is the best strategy and that customer is “YOU”! You are building this business to solve a problem that you faced and now you have all forgotten about the customer! So keep you as “Customer First” see that you are going deep in solving the problem in the best possible way and there are millions who may be facing the same problem. Hence this could become a big business! However, it is you who happens to solve that problem, so adapt the “Customer First” strategy!