“Relevance is the most important quality a brand, store or experience can offer”. – Andrea Coville
In the previous exposition, we spoke about the importance of keeping pace with today’s customer. Taking that idea further, we believe that staying relevant with customers would be essential to keeping pace and for the overall ‘health’ of the company. Staying relevant with customers translates to remaining customer-centric, consistently providing top class service to customers and actively listening to customers such that your company can proactively provide them with whatever they want and need. Staying relevant with customers is about providing experiences, offerings and service that are rooted in customer feedback and insights. Customers change – almost daily – their behaviours, attitudes, needs, emotions – all undergo significant and incremental changes depending on a number of factors and for companies to seem relevant for customers, they must adapt accordingly.
We have discussed previously too, that digitization and globalization have changed the face of customer service and the way customers interact with companies. The power of decisions now lie with customers and for staying relevant with them, companies must stay connected and informed about every aspect that would influence customers to buy. Companies that believe that they can continue to serve today’s customers through traditional methods and by applying ‘rules’ that were successful in the past, would be moving rapidly towards becoming obsolete and irrelevant with customers. Staying relevant with customers would happen through constantly changing to their needs and meticulously anticipating the direction their needs and wants could take. Staying relevant with customers could ensure a company’s success – the converse would also be true.
For staying relevant with customers, companies must remember that they must frequently reach out to customers to understand their current and future needs. Based on this understanding the company would be able to customize service, offerings and even the kind of messages that reach the customers. In the highly competitive market, keeping one’s company far from failure would depend largely on how customers view the company with respect to their competitors. This knowledge would allow companies to make better and clear decisions for their customers, avoid guesswork and overall guaranteeing that they would be consistently staying relevant with customers.
As customers demand more, companies could make the mistake of believing that innovation and producing new offerings would be the way to remain in focus with customers. However, as we said earlier, innovation for the sake of it could drive your company to obsolescence. Staying relevant with customers is about giving them what they want, when they want and how they want something. Too much or too little innovation and a lack of understanding of the customer would ensure that the company appears stale, not aligned with customers and their changing needs, which in turn would mean that customers pass it by and go on to a company that seems more ‘clued in’ to their requirements. Staying relevant with customers is about ensuring that customers have top class experiences every time they connect with a company. The company’s culture and values must clearly display its commitment to the customer’s needs and the willingness to engage customers in every way possible.
Staying relevant with customers cannot happen if customer service is not a company-wide endeavour. It cannot be the responsibility of only the leaders or the customer service team. Everyone in the company must remain aware and prepared to face changes brought about by the evolving needs and demands of their customers and the business environment. The ideas and insights from a larger group would help the company to serve customers better by providing qualitative options and ideas that would be beneficial to them. When a company consistently makes the lives of customers simpler and contributes to their success, staying relevant with customers becomes almost certain.
Remaining relevant for any company would mean being unafraid to dig deep to ascertain whether it must challenge its own processes, customer service and operations. Staying relevant with customers is about building relationships with them, such that the association adds value to the customers, increases profitability and works towards making them successful. Customer success would guarantee the company’s success over time. Such relationships prove to be sustainable despite the changing business landscape and the more such associations a company can forge, the easier it would be for it to stay in focus and relevant with customers.
While an inward focus is essential, staying relevant with customers is about keeping themselves informed about what their nearest competitors are doing. The business world is all about learning from the strengths and mistakes of the other – in doing so a company can constantly update its business model to stay relevant and be the first choice of customers. By consistently creating and delivering value, different to what their competitors offer, a company can ensure its place as a vendor of choice for its customers. Staying relevant with customers happens when a company is agile and nimble – able to work with and around new opportunities and sudden changes in the market within which the customer operates and their own market of operation.
As mentioned, the service that a company provides must find value in the eyes of the customer. With so many companies offering similar products and services, staying relevant with customers could become difficult. However, by focusing on details, remaining proactive, providing speedy and effective solutions and adopting a flexible attitude would allow a company to remain in the forefront. While some amount of discipline and adherence to rules and procedures is warranted, refusing to bend or change if it would make the customers life easier, could make a company irrelevant and out-dated for the customer.
A company must remain strong and united internally in order to serve the external customers well. It must hire the right people, give them sufficient growth and learning opportunities, care for them and empower them to make decisions that would support the customers while maintaining balance for the company too. The company’s leaders must be ready to listen to the staff, set an example of service to customers and overall guide the company to overcome the current obstacles and possible challenges of the future. In the words of Peter Drucker – The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. This would mean ensuring that the focus of the business remains on the customer and by building a happy workforce a business would have an entire ‘army’ of people to ensure that. The best way of staying relevant with customers then, is to get everyone aligned to customer service and be ready to accept change whenever it is required to give the customer the best.
The business market is possibly tougher now than ever before and is probably set to become even more challenging. It is unlikely to stop changing and evolving and for staying relevant with customers and the business environment, every company would need to consistently change their current business model and operations, the leaders and people would need to adopt a flexible mind-set and everyone would need to remain agile. Even the most successful and relevant company today, can find itself standing on the brink of irrelevance if it does not relentlessly endeavour to keep pace with the changing times and customer behaviour. Is your company ready?