The exciting future of customer-brand relationships

by 5CA | March 8, 2021

 

Customer relationships with brands have been changing since marketing’s inception. With the web now at our fingertips, consumers now know what they want from a brand. And it’s no longer just product or service, it’s also human connection.

The evolution of customer-brand relationships has been swift. In half a century, we’ve gone from emotionless production to the masses to considering the customer’s needs above all else. Once upon a time — in the Mad Men era — brands looked at consumers as a commodity. These were the faceless people who were going to buy their product and use their product, and that was it.

And it worked.

Each time you ask somebody what they’re drinking, and they say, “Starbucks” or ask them if they have a Kleenex, that’s a traditional marketing success story. Because technically, they’re drinking coffee, and yes, they probably have a tissue if you need one. But this simply wasn’t sustainable.

Like all things, marketing — and CX — needed to grow for brands to keep their customers happy.

“Change is neither good or bad, it simply is.” — Don Draper

 

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A quick history of customer-brand relationships

In the beginning, commerce was straightforward. As strange as it is to believe, buying things used to be as straight up as exchanging goods for hard cash. For gamers, that’s like going to Whiterun for scrolls or Nook’s Cranny for furniture.

Marketing was simply the next evolutionary step.

Marketing 1.0

Traditional marketing was linear in nature and relatively simple. All brands had to do was split potential consumers into segmented groups and sell to them. For example, teen girls and skincare products, adult men and cars, or housewives and cleaning products. Marketing 1.0 was very much about taking these demographics and selling to them as an amorphous group.

Basically, brands made decisions for customers and told them what they wanted to hear. But with the new millennium’s technological uprising, things had to change.

And fast.

Marketing 2.0

Thanks to the internet’s rising popularity, customers had information on hand. Brands could no longer get away with telling people tobacco was toasted because they could easily find that wasn’t the case. The internet also made it possible for people to block or skip ads, which meant marketers had to come up with other ideas on how to get their products out there.

Brands had to be honest about their products and begin looking at consumers on an individual basis. For example, if one adult man wants to get into kitesurfing, it doesn’t mean all of them do. As a result, marketing strategies needed to use data to identify and satisfy audiences to make a sale.

This was the point where the ball was changing hands from brand to customer.

Marketing 3.0

Due to social media, we’re now more connected than ever. Marketing 3.0 was a response to this, and it changed everything. Social media has put everybody on the same playing field: consumers, brands, celebrities; even the British Royal Family. People crave connection. They want it on social media, when they go shopping, in CX, or to the doctor.

And they want it in the brands they love.

 

MARKETING 1.0PRODUCT-DRIVEN SELLING THE PRODUCT
MARKETING 2.0INFORMATION-DRIVENSATISFYING THE CUSTOMER
MARKETING 3.0VALUE-DRIVENCONNECTING WITH THE CUSTOMER

 

What do consumers want from brands?

Where traditional marketing techniques require treating the customer as king, this is no longer the case. Consumers want to be treated as equals. They want brands to speak to them like they’re human beings, not customers. And their loyalty and business matters more now than ever before.

3.0 is cultural marketing. It’s human, ethical, and emotive and requires abandoning traditional marketing techniques that draw a line between brands and consumers. In order to be successful, brands need to now connect with their customers by showing they care. Not only about them, but larger issues affecting like the climate crisis and Black Lives Matter.

If you care, then they’ll care.

The importance of customer relationships

No matter what changes in the relationships between customers and brands, the connection itself is integral. And it always has been, even way back when demographics were key to marketing campaigns. Whether a brand is selling their product or connecting directly with their audience, fostering a healthy relationship to create an emotional connection is the best way of seeing profit. The Harvard Business Review spent almost a decade looking into customer emotions. So many companies knew how important they were, but nobody knew how to use that going forth. Over the time spent working on it and through over 300 emotional motivators, they figured out the science behind customer emotion: people emotionally connect to brands whose beliefs align with theirs.

And most of the time, they’re not even aware of it.

The consumer-brand relationship is unique in its understanding of intrinsic motivation. Customers want to see brands as their friend, partner, or family. And like families, they want to know a brand knows them better than they know themselves. In turn, brands need to fill that void with a quality relationship built on loyalty and trust. One that makes their customers feel like they matter.

People aren’t dumb — they know when somebody is being real with them or not. That’s why customer experience is the secret ingredient to a successful marketing strategy.

Speaking to somebody who listens and responds to queries or issues is always going to be trusted more than a chatbot. No matter how smart those bots are becoming.

The connectivity of customer experience

“Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors.” — FORBES

From streaming services to washing machines, we’re living in an era where every product or service has competition. When there’s so much choice on the market, brands need to stand out from the crowd. And, unless they’re lucky, they’re not going to do that with an algorithmic ad campaign alone. Or the newest, shiniest product. They need to do it by reaching and connecting with their potential buyers.

Customer experience is the most valuable way of doing this and brands are finally catching on. Now, two out of three companies compete on customer experience and expected to rise to 81% within the next few years. But brands should also know that any simple customer service won’t hit the mark. On the contrary, they need globalized, multilingual CX and agents who are as big fans of brands as those seeking help.

This is 5CA’s raison d’être. It’s why we exist. It’s also why we deliver superior CX.

Customer experience is the future of marketing

As we move into the era of marketing 4.0, quality customer experience is only going to become more valuable. Big data is going to be a huge asset which CX can then use to help marketers using real-time customer insights. These insights help companies drive product development and innovation by allowing them to fine-tune every aspect of a customer’s journey. In doing so, they create a more personalized experience that we know the customer emotionally responds to.

Knowing what people are looking for will be essential in moving forward and trusted customer experiences can fill in those gaps as easily as exchanging gaming tips or shoe sizes.

The not-so-distant future of marketing will be a mix of traditional and new techniques, all of which cater to customers. More traditional aspects help to foster awareness and are good for loyalty while contemporary elements provide real-time insights and the possibility of fostering the emotional connections people desire.

With globalization, brands can reach a wider market by having access to a global talent pool of people who speak every language their customers do. Not only does this mean that agents can do what they love in languages they’re comfortable with, but they can connect with customers even further. Providing these things only strengthens customer-brand relationships, meaning in marketing 4.0 and its future, a multilingual customer experience will at the core

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