What is the “Client’s Era” and What Does it Mean for Your Business?

By Thomas Bennett Financial expert at Priceva
Published on September 8, 2023
"The Customer Era" is a term used to describe the current business landscape, where the customer is the nucleus of business strategies and operations. In this era, companies prioritize satisfying their customers' needs and expectations to cultivate robust and enduring relationships.
In 2013, Forrester Research, a research company, published two studies on technology management and competitive strategy. The studies posited the end of the "information era" and the dawn of the "customer era". Soon, marketers and business leaders adopted this term, establishing it as a commonly used phrase.

The Dawn of the "Customer Era"

The shift to this new era was triggered by the explosive growth of mobile technology and social media platforms. They suddenly birthed a world where consumers worldwide could converse with each other about their brand experiences, respond to marketing messages in real-time, and even publish their own content on a brand's social media page.

Social media significantly altered the balance of power between vendors and consumers, as customers could now candidly discuss their shopping experiences and openly share their opinions about the products and services they purchased.

If a customer had a negative experience, they didn't just communicate this to the business. They broadcast it to all their friends and acquaintances on social networks and blogs, who in turn would react and share these reviews. This ripple effect could result in hundreds, even thousands of potential brand consumers learning about a single incident. This shift prompted the epoch change and forced companies to acknowledge consumer dominance and diligently build relationships with each customer.
New customer service quality demands are driving companies to shift their focus from simply selling products or services to creating experiences tailored to their customers' unique needs and desires.

This experience includes:

● Providing personalized and relevant content,
● Exceptional customer service,
● Utilizing cutting-edge technologies to enhance customer service.

In the "Customer Era," the spotlight is on the buyer. To stay competitive and thrive, businesses must continuously adapt to their customers' evolving needs and preferences.
Let's delve into how customer service requirements are changing and what companies now need to do to meet new customer expectations?

Key Business Processes to Pay Attention to in the "Customer Era"

Here are some of the pivotal processes that a commercial company should focus on in the customer era:

1. Customer Engagement

This process involves creating a two-way dialogue with customers and building long-term relationships through regular communication across various channels such as website chat, social media, email, and more.

In contemporary retail, there's an established funnel for interacting with customers. It consists of several stages, none of which a company should ignore if it intends to proficiently orchestrate the process of drawing customers into its orbit.

These stages include:

● Awareness Growth. The first step in attracting customers is increasing awareness of your brand, products, or services. This can be accomplished through advertising, content marketing, social media communications, and other marketing channels.

● Purchase Stimulation. Once customers are aware of your brand, the next step is to attract them as clients. This step might involve discount offers, bonuses, gifts, a trial period, or other incentives that encourage making a purchase.

● Onboarding. After a customer has made a purchase, the onboarding process begins. This process involves welcoming the customer, providing them with any necessary information or resources to have a positive experience with the company and its product.

● Engagement. The engagement process involves consistent communication at various touchpoints with the customer. This process might include sending personalized messages, offering loyalty rewards, and providing exceptional service for recurring customers.

● Retention. The retention stage involves maintaining customer engagement and satisfaction so they continue to do business with your company. This could include offering constant support, resolving any issues, and continuously improving customer service quality.

● Loyalty Nurturing. The final stage of customer interaction is working with a loyal customer base when customers become brand ambassadors and start promoting your company among their circle. This can be achieved through word-of-mouth, and constant effort to remind customers how much you value them.

Overall, customer engagement is a continuous process of building and maintaining relationships with customers with a focus on ensuring a positive experience and enhancing loyalty.

2. Customer Service

Providing exceptional service is crucial in the customer era. This includes offering prompt and efficient support, addressing customer complaints, and providing a personalized experience.

In a customer-oriented company, stages of customer service can include:

● Preliminary Stage. It involves setting expectations and understanding the customer's needs. It also involves providing clear information about the company's products and services and implementing policies and processes designed to ensure a positive customer experience.

● Service Provision. This stage involves providing the actual service to the customer. It may involve offering personalized recommendations, providing support and assistance, and addressing any issues or problems that may arise in the process of providing a service or selling a product.

Post-service. This stage involves interacting with the customer after providing the service. It consists of providing warranty or additional support, supplying the customer with necessary resources, or offering related products and services.

● Customer Feedback. Reviews are an important stage in the customer service process as they provide valuable information on how the company can improve its offer. This stage might include collecting reviews through social media surveys, email surveys, and surveys in other channels. They are conducted to gather customer satisfaction ratings and use the information obtained to make decisions that will improve service quality.

● Service Process Improvement. Continuous improvement of all processes accompanying customer service is a key task of a customer-oriented company. This is an ongoing process that involves regular assessment of customer service quality and consistent incorporation of upgrades and improvements.

If the company identifies weaknesses at all stages of service and makes continuous improvements, this guarantees that its customers will be satisfied with their experience, recommend the company to others, and are more likely to return in the future.

3. Data Analysis.

Collecting and analyzing data about customers can help companies better understand their customers and tailor their offerings to their needs.

The specific data to be collected and analyzed will depend on the business and its specific goals and tasks. However, general customer data that almost every company should collect and analyze include:

Demographics. Collecting information such as age, gender, income, and location can help companies better understand their customer base and tailor their offerings to meet their needs.

Purchase History. Analyzing past purchases can help companies identify trends and preferences of their customers, which can aid in product development and make marketing efforts more effective.

Customer Reviews. Collecting reviews on review platforms, as well as conducting surveys on social media and the company's website can help understand the level of customer satisfaction and identify areas needing improvement.

Website and Social Media Analytics. Analyzing website traffic and social media activity can help companies understand how customers interact with their brand and make data-driven decisions.

Customer Service Interaction History. Analyzing interaction with customer service can provide insight into customer needs and issues, as well as opportunities to improve customer service quality.

Analysis of Preferred Interaction Channels. Understanding how customers prefer to interact with the business, for example, via email, phone, or social media, can assist in developing communication strategies.

By collecting and analyzing these customer data, companies can better understand their customers and make data-driven decisions that improve overall customer service quality.

4. Marketing and Advertising

Marketing and advertising efforts should focus on creating relevant and engaging messages, as well as building a brand image that resonates with the target audience.

The "age of the customer" has specific demands for understanding customers. Conduct market research to better understand your buyers, including their needs and behavior. This information will help you create marketing messages that resonate with their expectations and preferences.

Define your value proposition. Develop a clear and compelling value proposition that directly addresses the needs and priorities of your customers. It should clearly demonstrate how your product or service solves their problems or meets their needs.

Tailor your messages. Use audience-specific offers for each target group of customers in all your marketing efforts, including your website, social media, and other channels. Your message should focus on the benefits that your product or service provides to a particular group of customers and addresses their pressing needs.

Personalize your marketing. Personalize your marketing efforts by using customer data to deliver targeted messages and offers. This could include:

• Behavioral customization of the website;

• Providing personalized product recommendations based on information about visited pages;

• Personalized emails, recommendations, and promotions;

• Mobile web and mobile app personalization;

• Smart mobile push notifications.

Work on your reputation. Regularly monitor your customer reviews on all key channels: on the site, in social networks, in review platforms, and geoinformation systems like Yandex.Maps and 2GIS.

This is necessary:

• First, to understand the impressions from the experience of using your product or service;

• Second, to correct the created negative image using ORM and SERM tools.

Continually improve. Conduct regular testing of new channels and creatives. Improve your marketing strategy based on customer feedback and market trends. This will make your marketing competitive and effective.

5. Sales and Distribution

To ensure customers have a positive experience when purchasing products or services, the sales and distribution process needs to be optimized. To meet today's customer expectations, companies need to make several changes, including:

Providing channel choices. Customers expect to be able to purchase goods or services through various channels, including online, through mobile devices, in-store, and over the phone.

Optimizing the purchasing process. Customers want a seamless and straightforward purchasing process with minimal steps to complete the purchase.

Providing real-time information. Customers expect to be able to track their orders and receive real-time updates on the status of their purchase.

Offering choice of delivery options. Customers need flexible delivery options, including same-day delivery, in-store pickup, and delivery to a collection point or home.

Offering exceptional service. Customers expect fast and responsive customer service with quick resolution of any issues or problems.

Working on personalization. Customers expect a personalized experience with recommendations and offers tailored to their unique needs and preferences.

Utilizing modern technologies. Companies can use technology to enhance customer service quality, such as using chatbots for customer support or implementing augmented reality to help customers visualize how cosmetics, footwear or clothing will look on them, or to figure out how furniture will fit into their apartment.

6. Product Upgrade and Development of More Innovative Alternatives

Companies need to be constantly in the process of improving their products and services. They should meet the unique needs and desires of their customers, be modern, convenient, and efficient.

7. Continuous Improvement

The "age of the customer" for your business means that as long as you are in it, the customer should always be at the center of your activity and your strategy.

You should constantly evaluate your processes and seek ways to improve them to meet growing customer expectations and provide a positive shopping experience. This may include investing in customer service training, collecting and analyzing reviews, and using technology to enhance service quality.

Only by prioritizing the customer can you build strong relationships, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately stimulate business development.

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