Leading companies that develop a people first approach will win in today’s digital economy, according to the latest global technology trends report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN). As technology advancements accelerate at an unprecedented rate – dramatically disrupting the workforce – companies that equip employees, partners and consumers with new skills can fully capitalize on innovations. Those that do will have unmatched capabilities to create fresh ideas, develop cutting-edge products and services, and disrupt the status quo.
The human psyche can be influenced by a range of external factors and retailers have for many years encouraged customers to react to a number of these stimuli. Most common is the belief by the shopper that they are receiving a ‘good deal’. Whether this is a perceived low price for an item, such as the item being ‘on Sale’ or a promotional offer such as ‘Buy One get One Free’, the perception that they are getting ‘something for nothing’ is a driver for making a purchasing decision.
In certain retail sub-sectors, most famously the furniture sector, customers have been ‘trained’ to expect substantial discounts from the base price and as such furniture retailers have had to develop their marketing to fulfill this need even though the ‘discounts’ are recognised by all but the less seasoned shopper as an empty promise and as such the furniture retailers have to promote themselves in other unique ways.
Although perceived value is a strong driver to encourage shoppers to return for future products, it has been shown by many retailers to not be the only driver and influences based around customer service, product range, stock availability and the shopping environment also have a key role in the shoppers decision to return.
However, loyalty is a funny thing, why do people say things to appease you…why do they throw loyalty out the window?
Recently the yearly calendar hosted Valentines Day on 14th February (a huge retailing sales opportunity), we all remind ourselves that we need to be romantic or share love on this day with our friends, partners and relatives, the problem we never wake up to is prospective, Valentines Day should not be about one day, you then need to question what you are doing on the remaining 364 days of the year.
The story of Valentine’s Day began in the third century with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian Martyr. The emperor was Claudius II. The Christian was Valentinus.
Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians. But Valentinus was dedicated to the ideals of Christ; not even the threat of death could keep him from practicing his beliefs. He was arrested and imprisoned.
On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to a young beautiful girl called Julia, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it, “From your Valentine.” His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome. It is said that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. On each February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, messages of affection, love, and devotion are exchanged around the world.
We are fiercely loyal to our favorite sports team even when that team is on a losing streak. We stay loyal to our political party even when the candidates enact laws that take away our jobs and put us in the welfare line. We remain loyal to their favorite brands despite recalls and inflated costs.
But the people in our life, the people when they say a single word amiss or make an innocent mistake all loyalty is thrown out the window. Why is it that loyalty is so strong in the superficial relationships in our lives but when things get personal that loyalty is removed and forgotten.
Where did we go wrong? When did it become ok to put more stock in things that care one whit about us and cast aside those who do?
When did it become acceptable to hold decades long grudges against brothers and sisters over such trivial things as divvying up a deceased parent’s belongings?
Trust is a vital commodity in all relationships, personal or business.
Trust in a relationship is a must. With it, there is freedom and security to experience the full potential of intimacy, love, and vulnerability the relationship has to offer. Without it, there is fear and insecurity, dampening and limiting the relationship’s potential.
It is most influenced by a persons’ feeling of trust during any interaction the key in business is to get the service right and meet the very basic customer need. Make customers feel ‘looked after’, even customise their experience deal with one individual where it is relevant and possible. Ensure first rate standards in the front-line employees (of competence, values and ethics), for this is where the reputation for the customer is built or destroyed.
The second influential factor is the service providers’ management policies and practice, and thirdly, a customers’ prior experience – along with reputation and word of mouth.
Admit mistakes, apologise and fix them – this is as important, and ‘human’, rather than an impersonal offer of recompense after an event.
Not everybody wants a continuous relationship. Use event triggers like birth, employment change, marriage, ‘shock’ overdraft and so on, and then example a caring attitude in these moments.
My final thought is that the digital age is upon us all and is changing both human to human behaviour and our levels of expectation.
Customers are becoming more and more demanding of their chosen retailers and price is not the biggest influencer to drive this choice.
Retailers in all sub-sectors need to respond to the increasing need for an open way of providing a two way conversations with their customers and they need to be able to do this in real time.
Retail CRM based on out-of-date technology and customer segmentation based on basic knowledge will not allow the retailer to have the visibility of what the customer is doing at this very moment. Nor will so called Business Intelligence solutions that rely on ‘indexed’ and ‘aggregated’ data stores, located in different silos across the retail landscape, needing IT departments to spend time and effort to produce reports that are needed that instant not tomorrow, next week or 3 months from now. In the digital world, data is the fuel that is driving innovation and being able to understand that data in depth and in real time is the key to success.