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Developing a Customer-First Approach: A Day 2 Recap of Shoptalk

Yesterday, we shared our recap of an eventful first day of Shoptalk 2016. One of the prevailing themes was how modern brands are engaging consumers through a customer-first mentality. On day 2, this concept continued to surface, specifically, in a session entitled “Acting on the Voice of the Customer,” featuring Ivy Chin, SVP eCommerce & Omnichannel Digital, Belk, and Alex Genov, Head of UX Research & Web Analytics, Zappos.

At the start of the session, the panelists were asked the simple question, “Is the customer always right?” Chin answered in an interesting way, saying “They are always right in what they want, but they don’t always ask for it in the right way.” Her point resonated with me because at Olapic we are constantly analyzing visual UGC to understand how consumers are utilizing the brands we work with in their daily lives. Often, what consumers say they want and what their behavior tells us can be vastly different. As a marketer, you have to be wholly plugged into both the explicit and implicit information consumers give you.

While a large portion of the panel focused on collecting feedback and responding to negative situations in a “customer-first” capacity, Chin also shared her insight into the brand fundamentals required for a “customer-first” attitude:

Getting the C-Suite on Board

The C-suite for a brand has to be fully involved and actually reading customer feedback on a daily basis, according to Chin. Being customer-focused can’t just be part of a brand’s stated values, in order to live those values, leadership needs to demonstrate that customer satisfaction and even customer delight is a top priority. They must react to news they see on feedback (or better yet, be proactive about issues that may arise), and they need to roll up their sleeves and help fix problems when they inevitably occur. Today’s brand leaders need to have the courage to stand up and be the voice of the customer internally, to speak on their behalf when something isn’t right.

Assume You Don’t Know Your Customers

Brands may have a tendency in this analytics-driven age to become complacent, believing they know their customers’ wants and needs better than the customers themselves. Don’t fall into this trap. Smart brands always maintain the mindset that they don’t know their customer well enough and need to constantly learn from and about them. The moment that process tops, a brand is at risk for failure.

In our marketing ecosystem dominated by customer research, surveys, personas, segmentation, and all of the other activities we take on to fully “know” our consumers, this point rang especially true to me as a marketer. In this way, marketing is like any other aspect of our lives. Staying humble and willing to constantly learn and improve is the key to success. An ego can be the downfall of customer relationships and successful marketing programs, no matter how data-driven they may be.

We’re excited for the final day here at Shoptalk. If you’re at the event, be sure to stop by our booth (#1115) to talk with us about how earned content can help connect your omnichannel strategy and realize its full potential. In the spirit of the spring season we have built the only living booth at Shoptalk, and will be giving out brand new Olapic swag. Enjoy the rest of the conference!

Image Source: Gratisography / By: Bells Design

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