Unlocking Business Success: 5 Key Trends in 2024 to Succeed Your Customer-First Strategy

As we debut the second half of the year, the ever-evolving landscape of customer experience (CX) is making business success even more challenging than usual. Are you finding this too? If so, then I have some ideas to help.

We already know that businesses that embrace a customer-first strategy successfully lead their markets by driving growth from increased loyalty. To continue benefiting from this customer-centric approach, it is important to understand what has changed in 2024 and how companies should react to their customers’ ever-changing demands.

 

Business Success in 2024: The Key Trends

Here are the key trends of 2024 and some questions you may already be asking yourself about them. If not, then perhaps you should.

As always, I share my ideas and examples to help you make any changes you decide are needed.

 

AI-Driven Personalization:

What is it? AI-driven personalization leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze vast customer data and deliver highly customized experiences.

It is important because it enables businesses to anticipate customer needs and offer tailored recommendations, enhancing the customer experience and driving business success.

Example: eBay’s new magical listing tool uses artificial intelligence to extrapolate details about listings from images. As a result, sellers can list items easily, and buyers can access more information about potential purchases. (Source)

 

Data Privacy and Trust:

What is it? Ensuring customer data is handled with transparency and robust security measures.

With increasing regulatory scrutiny and customer awareness, businesses must build and maintain trust by protecting their customers’ information, which is vital for ongoing business success.

Example: To sustain their customers’ trust, companies should communicate clearly about data usage and adopt stringent security protocols to prevent data breaches.

 

Omnichannel Experiences:

What is it? Providing a seamless and integrated customer experience across multiple online and offline channels.

Customers expect consistent interactions and a unified experience, regardless of the channel they are using. This can enhance both their satisfaction and loyalty.

Example: Airbnb offers 24/7 support through various channels, ensuring customers receive timely assistance regardless of the platform they use. (Source)

 

Ethical AI:

What is it? Using AI responsibly and transparently avoids perpetuating biases and helps to maintain customer trust.

Ethical AI practices are essential for building long-term, trust-based customer relationships and ongoing loyalty.

Example: Businesses must be open about how they use AI in customer interactions and take steps to mitigate any negative impacts.

 

Empathy at Scale:

What is it? Combining AI-driven automation with human empathy enables your customer service team to handle complex customer issues more effectively.

This approach ensures that customers feel valued and understood, even when interacting with automated systems, contributing to continued customer satisfaction.

Example: Using AI to address simpler queries frees human agents to provide empathetic support for more complicated issues. It is also usually speedier, which customers appreciate.


Are you following trends? If so, do you turn them into plausible future scenarios? If not, you are missing an

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Navigate a Challenging Business Environment and Stay Ahead of Your Competition

When facing a challenging business environment, which these days is true for almost every industry, companies don’t always have the time to make considered decisions. Agility has become a much-needed skill.

So, how can companies be better prepared for whatever the future holds? 

Agility needs preparation and with this in mind, most major organisations conduct some sort of societal trend following in the hope that they will correctly “guess” what might happen. You may be one of them. So it might surprise you that I believe this is a huge mistake, especially if you think that trends alone will better prepare your organisation!

Think about it. Most companies follow the same trends, attend the same trend “shows” & conferences, and get the same or at least very similar reports.

This results in them all working on the same ideas and concepts, and eventually launching very similar products and services or campaigns, that struggle to compete effectively.

Have you never wondered why suddenly everyone is talking about a certain topic, using similar slogans, or launching equivalent offers? Now you know why!

Here’s how to avoid this and develop a powerful competitive advantage.

 

Market Evidence

I want to start by sharing just one example of the problem I just mentioned. A few years ago, we started seeing many companies using the idea of “YES” and “NO” in their advertising. In Europe, these included:

  • The Swiss Migros Bank: see the videos here – only in French & German, I’m afraid but still easy to understand whatever language you speak.
  • Coke’s “Say Yes to Love” campaign.
  • Coke say yes to love

 

  • BMW 320i  Campaign YES YOU CAN

 

These are just three examples from very different industries, but I’m sure there are many others in your own country. (If so, please share the example in the comments below.)

Clearly, the trend for more independence and freedom has been emphasised in all three organisations mentioned above. Perhaps they are working with the same trend or advertising agency? Or maybe they are buying the same external trends report. It certainly looks like it, doesn’t it?

Companies that develop concepts based upon this type of external resource alone can find themselves in a race to be the first to market when using the ideas these reports suggest.

Incidentally, it is not always best to be the first when introducing new concepts to consumers, especially when they require learning new ways of thinking or working.

So what can you do about it? The vital step that many – dare I say most – organisations don’t take, is to turn the trends they are following into plausible future scenarios.

Scenario planning ensures original thinking from which proprietary ideas are conceived, and takes the development of new concepts in-house, where it belongs.

Then, the new product and service concepts, the new advertising campaigns, and the new promotions that are designed are unlikely to be the same as those of the competition and will, therefore, have a greater chance of success.

 

Turning Trends

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10 Ways to Improve Customer Centricity Today

Many of you know that it is vital to continuously improve your customer centricity. You must put the customer clearly at the heart of your business in everything you do. But that’s easier said than done because your customers are constantly changing.

I think that’s why many businesses struggle to improve their customer centricity because they don’t know where to start. Am I right? If so, then this article is especially for you. 

This week I want to share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation’s improvement of customer centricity. 

 

#1 Review the description of your target audience

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityLet’s start at the very beginning – with the customer of course!

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to refer to these as personas or avatars. Whatever you call yours, they should be precise, detailed and ideally visual as well.

If you haven’t yet developed your persona, or you know it is not as complete as it could be, why not use our new C3Centricity 4W™ Persona Template? Complete the who, what, where and why for each of your brands and finally understand who you are aiming to attract.

I suggest you also complete one for your company if it appears predominantly on your packaging or communications. I did this for a client and found that some of their brands were positioning themselves in opposition to their company image. As you can imagine, this was getting them nowhere and damaging both their brand and company image!

Include in your own persona template not only demographics and consumption/purchasing habits, but also information about where your customers do these things, what values they have that you can tap into, and what emotions motivate them to use your brand.

If your current persona doesn’t include all this information, it is probably time to update it – and why not with our 4W™ template?

 

#2 Optimise how you connect with your customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers and their preferred place and time to connect? You should after completing your updated persona template.

Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it a one-way or two-way discussion? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?

Obviously, the second communication style is what you should be aiming for. You can learn more about your customers when they are ready to share their information. And that comes when they trust you to keep their data safe and know that you only collect what you need to give them a superior experience. Make sure that’s what you are doing.

#3 Identify the needs your brand is addressing

Do you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

Which customer need are you solvingThey certainly have several needs, but you should aim to address only one of them.

If you attempt to address more than one need at the same time, … Click to continue reading

10 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Customer Centricity

We all know that adopting a customer-first strategy is essential for business growth and profitability. However, customer centricity has become even more important today, as a result of all the changes in our customers’ behaviour following the global covid lockdown. We are now even more impatient and demanding of businesses, and quick to complain publicly when things go wrong, or rather when we are not totally satisfied.

All companies need to put their customers clearly at the heart of their organisation. But I know that many struggle, even in more normal times, to be customer-centric. They just don’t know where to start. Am I right? If you’re in this situation yourself, then this article is for you. In it I share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to an improved customer-first strategy.

 

#1 Review & Revise the Description of your Target Audience

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas or avatars.

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityIs it as complete as it should be? If not, then regular readers will know about and probably use the C3Centricity 4W™ template for storing all this information. You can download it and get the accompanying workbook for free here.

In your avatar, you must include not only your customers’ demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to purchase and use your brand.

 

#2 Assess the Optimum Way of Connecting with Your Customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?

Review how you communicate with your customers and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?

Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers by listening, especially when they are ready to share their information with you.

For an original take on engaging your customers see “You’re missing out on a Free Communication Channel!” (Any guesses what it is?)

#3 Identify the Needs Your Brand is Addressing

Maslow's hierarchy of needsDo you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one at a time.

If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be confused.

Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for them, will leave your customers perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their needs and objectives.

Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying cultures with similar levels of a specific need.… Click to continue reading

The Great Trends Hoax: They don’t give a Business a Competitive Advantage

Do you follow trends? I bet you do! Everyone likes talking about the future, imagining what it might hold and then taking pride in seeing that they were “right”, that what they had “predicted” has come true. If this is how you work with trends, then you must read this post – urgently!

There are many trend providers today, from futurologists, to trend agencies, to gurus, all claiming to have “the truth”. An ex-colleague of mine made an interesting comment to me last weekend, as we hiked up to the top of La Dole, one of the small hills in the Lac Leman area of Switzerland where I live.

We were discussing trend following and she was comparing the providers with which her company had worked in the last five or ten years. Which of them “had got it right” and which ones hadn’t. I said that I wasn’t too keen on businesses working with trends alone, as there was no competitive advantage in doing so. She then made a wonderful comment: “You’re right of course. In fact when you go to these meetings to hear about the latest trends each year, you are sitting with a group of 20, 50, 100 or often even more people, all hearing the same presentations and “predictions”. If you all go back and start working on actions to respond to the future that was just presented, you’re all doing the same things and are in a way actually making the predictions come true”.

As I said, I have never really liked working with trends other than for developing plausible future scenarios, but she had put one of my concerns into words; you don’t gain competitive advantage from following trends. Whilst they may at best provide indications of some tactical actions you might take in the short-term, trends cannot help you develop your vision and strategy.

So if you want to achieve the real advantage of following trends and to get a head-start over your competition, then it’s time you started developing your own future scenarios. How? Well, here’s a 10-step approach that I have found has worked with many of my clients, which assumes that you are already following trends of some description:

10-Step Process

  1. Identify the most relevant trends for your category from all those that you are currently following. This evaluation is often best handled by your market research and insight group, who have access to a lot of information, both internal and external, and not just on trends. If this is a new area for you all, you may decide to seek some external support to help you make these first difficult choices.
  2. Invite a group of about 10-15 people from various departments within the organisation and who have ideas about what will happen in their different areas of the business, to join your “Futures” team. I have found that when invited, few refuse and in fact more ask to join the group when they hear about it, than
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