‘Customer-centric marketing’ is by no means an alien term these days. Us lot at Silverbean have been talking about it for quite some time, and throughout the digital industry, it’s had its fair share of airtime lately. In our musings, we’ve spoken about consumer expectations and how now, more than ever, businesses need to be addressing these before they even think of anything else. As a result we are seeing businesses across multiple sectors trying to innovate and in some cases, imitate, in order to get a slice of that customer-centric marketing action.

So why the sudden change of heart? Why are some businesses, once so laser focused on their own needs and objectives, now looking to their customer’s needs to be their beacon of light for future campaigns? And for businesses yet to explore this style of customer engagement, where the heck do they even begin?

As businesses still swim in the pools of big data, it’s easy to forget those ‘numbers’ are actually human beings. It’s important that businesses start by making that very clear distinction. You’re a human, right? (RIGHT?!) You’re also a consumer. If a business spoke to you like a number, you wouldn’t be too thrilled about it, I’m sure. Your customers need attention to be on a personal level and not just a one-size-fits-all generic UX approach, which a lot of CRO’ers seem to solely focus on.

It’s therefore interesting (or perhaps slightly worrying) that Nunwood/KPMG Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) analysis from 2015 reveals that, on average, UK businesses are doing little to improve customer experience.

Why aren’t businesses paying attention and doing something about it? Especially when those that have made their businesses customer centric, have profited – ‘CEE Top 100 saw an 11% Growth in Revenue Year on Year 2015 Vs 2014’

However, the FTSE 100 saw only a 5.5% Growth in Revenue Year on year 2015 Vs 2014.

customers before conversion rates 2

The report is insight gold and if you take a deeper look into the pages, there are some interesting points to garner from it.

First up, it is stated, that an omni-channel approach is critical to the success of customer-centric marketing. This therefore means that all your digital activities must be integrated into all of your marketing efforts rather than digital being an isolated entity. As consistent voice and experience across a brand is key for delivering a good customer experience, it would be madness to compartmentalise your activity.

This has never needed to be the case as much as it does in retail right now.

The research shows that there has been higher revenue growth for Non-Grocery Retail for those businesses that featured in the CEE top 100.  As you can see in this nifty little graph below:

customers before conversion rates 1

Behind the research

Ok, to add a little background to the findings, KPMG/Nunwood based their research around 6 key pillars – Empathy, Time & Effort, Resolution, Expectations, Integrity and Personalisation.

These pillars are all key factors that contribute to customer experience, where brands can excel, or fall short.

Empathy – Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport

Time & Effort – Minimising customer effort and creating friction-less processes

Resolution – Turning a poor experience into a great one

Expectations – Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations

Integrity – Being trustworthy and engendering trust

Personalisation – Using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection.

So, for those of us who have been working in the CRO space none of these seem unfamiliar. In fact, they form the basis of most hypothesis to help increase conversion rates.

The point here however is that the ‘Conversion Rate’ is not the metric that these pillars are measured by, but by information that is gathered directly from consumers. Customer-centric marketing, people.

Dedicating time to engaging with customers and collecting 1st party research can unlock the true potential of the business. By engaging users to actively feedback on core competencies or “pillars”, allows the business to understand how it can strive to meet customers’ needs and growth is achieved.

If you look at some of the top retail brands that are mentioned in this report, you can see from their digital retail experience why they are involved. However, one brand is quite surprising in its positioning. We have look at the top 5 retail non-grocery retailers below and pick some examples in their onsite journey that show how they address the pillars of proper customer-centric marketing, and a little bit about what you can take from their expertise.

Hassle-free login

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Soap? Soap you say? In terms of reducing effort, Lush is an absolute squeaky clean delight. Just take a look at the size of their log in boxes! How many times do you find yourself on a site, squinting to type in your email and password, and finding yourself shouting expletives at your device as attempt number 7 has ended up in the wrong box?!

Lush recognise that the customer comes first, time is precious and they need to deliver the goods. This kind of UX shows that.

Here’s our digits

It wouldn’t be a CRO blog post without a mention of John Lewis and the fact that they are 3rd in the CEE analysis is unsurprising.

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Empathy can be very subtle in the online journey, but John Lewis understand their customers and they understand what frustrates them. For example, most businesses would be concerned with keeping users solely focused on completing purchases online. Not John Lewis, they have a contact number available throughout the whole process, appreciating that some customers just want to speak to another human and visit a store filled with other humans. Even if those needs don’t meet John Lewis’ conversion rate objectives, it doesn’t matter, they want to address what their customers want.

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Trust is a big part of customer experience and in 2016 it’s a hard thing to keep a strong grasp of. Reviews sites such as Trustpilot are themselves coming under scrutiny for the trustworthiness of the reviews on their platform. This shows that consumers are less trusting of these types of systems and how trust is becoming increasingly difficult to gain and maintain.

It’s more important that ever to have testimonials from sources that potential customers can trust.

Richer Sounds use, where possible, 3rd party reviews and trademarks to support the quality of their products. This type of signalling can also stop users from having to go offsite to check other sources for assurances.

Community Matters

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Known for their cheese-tastic shopping channel, who would have thought that QVC could be so good at customer-centric marketing? They’ve built an online community to help grow engagement with their brand. In this community, they share stories where you can engage with the sellers, who are the forefront of the brand. This interaction helps to evolve the engagement these hard-core bargain hunters share with the QVC and the individual sellers, thus growing loyalty along the way.

Registering for a site is a pretty basic prerequisite of any online brand experience. However AO exceed expectations by giving new customers a discount just for completing this simple task. That’s pretty much money for nothing and, needless to say, that makes an impact with an online shopper.

Something for *Nothing

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What these brands show is a real willingness to please the customer, overcome any frustrations, and rather than give them the hard sell, genuinely help them out, whether this be with finding the products they need or building their trust.

Customer-centric marketing may be a growing popularity term or seem like 2016’s buzzword, but make no mistake, pleasing customers will always be the requirements of any online business and this is only going to grow as the line between offline and online continues to fade. Customers want a consistent experience.

The research already available to us shows that those businesses that best respond to the challenges and opportunities that customer-centric marketing this presents, are rewarded with the results they achieve.

Bottom line? Improve your customers’ experience through customer-centric marketing, and conversion rates will follow…

Want to discover more about personalisation and customer-centric marketing technique? Download our free insight piece and get personalising!