The biggest impact of the digital disruption is the democratization of consumerism worldwide. And because it happens to and through digital things its power multiplies precisely because it can apply to industries that are not even digital.
The outcome of this is a more informed and empowered customer. If you are in the service industry, this is change is perceptible. These days the customer does not call only for a service but to know what more than can get from you than your competitor.
Present day consumer of product or services expects and knows their money is worth more than the price printed on the label and the product or services may not be good enough — but better than it promises.
With information on ‘hand’ and easy mobility the consumer will bypass the geographically convenient and maybe a cheaper store brands to prefer a more expensive product that they believe is better (in value).
Certain items — belonging to the psycho-graphic segmentation variables – like phones, cars, shoes, handbags, favorite hotels, etc. — can get them quite excited. Not only they buy those products, they advocate them to others – on social media. Good old times — Harley Davidson and Marmite — were tattooed on bodies. Now they give them the thumbs up (likes).
Hence the challenge of today for the “truly marketing oriented “company is to be “truly differentiated” not in terms of your product or service but how you come across your customer at every touch point.
So ultimately, differentiation is to be found in what you do for your customers each and every day. It is embodied in the routines that people throughout the company follow, especially front-line employees, your call center employees, people handling escalations.
Ask executives whether their company’s offerings are differentiated and about 80% will say yes. But ask customers of those companies the same question and only about 10% will agree. Unfortunately, more than half of front-line employees aren’t clear about their company’s strategy and what makes it different from competitors. Most do not know what they are offering what the customer pay for.
Here is a suggestion make them think customer. The front line guys, sales representatives, customer service agents should be asked to respond to their service encounter as if they are the customer and how would they react? Empathy is a cliché’. What is required something deeper-introspection very conscious-continuous.
Differentiation in overall approach to the customer ,existing or future, may begin with the founders or leaders of a company, but it doesn’t become real until the front line lives it and breathes it.
To me the secret to most successful enterprises — companies who realize this importance — translate these strategies into front-line activities and focus maniacally on routines. In short create a replicable behavior in each interaction with their target audience – the consumer they want to win over each time.