Brand-customer relationships: what does the future look like?

Brand-customer relationships are forever in flux, changing faster than algorithms since inception. With the web now in their hands, consumers know what they want from a brand: great CX.

The exciting future of customer-brand relationships

Brand-customer relationships: what does the future look like?

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Words by 5CA
Reading time 6 min

Brand-customer relationships are forever in flux, changing faster than algorithms since advertising’s inception. With the web now in their hands, consumers know what they want from a brand: great customer experiences.

The evolution of brand-customer relationships has been swift. In half a century, we’ve gone from emotionless production to the masses to placing the customer’s needs above all else.

Once upon a time—in the Mad Men era—brands approached consumers as a commodity. These were the faceless people who would buy and use their products. 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 brand success story. Because technically, they’re drinking coffee and have a tissue at hand. But this wasn’t sustainable.

Like all things, advertising—and customer service—need to adapt and change for brands to foster strong relationships and keep their customers happy.

“Change is neither good nor bad; it simply is.”

– Don Draper, Mad Men

A quick history of brand-customer relationships

In the beginning, commerce was straightforward: buying things meant exchanging goods for hard cash. Improving customer relationships is simply the next evolutionary step. But how did we get to where we are today?

Marketing 1.0

Traditional marketing strategies were linear and relatively simple. All brands had to do to gain brand resonance was divide consumers into target audiences and sell to them: teen girls and skin care products, adult men and cars, or homemakers and cleaning products, for example.

Marketing 1.0 was about taking these demographics and selling to them as a unified group. 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 — quickly.

Marketing 2.0

Thanks to the internet’s rising popularity, customers had information on hand and different perspectives on commerce. Brand perception was changing, and brands could no longer get away with telling people tobacco was “toasted” because they could easily find it false. The internet also allowed people to block or skip ads, which meant brands 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 individually. For example, if one adult man wants to get into kitesurfing, it doesn’t mean all of them do. As a result, brands needed to use data to identify and satisfy target audiences to make a sale.

The ball was now changing hands — from brand to customer.

Marketing 3.0

Due to social media and similar communication channels, brands and their customers are more connected than ever. Marketing 3.0—the era of relationship marketing—was a response to this, and it changed everything. Social media is an important factor that’s put everybody on the same playing field: consumers, brands, and even celebrities.

People crave connection. They want to connect via social media and through community and customer service. They want it in the brands they love, meaning nurturing your brand-customer relationships from pre-sale to post-purchase is now crucial.

What do consumers want from brands?

Traditional customer service techniques require treating the customer as king, which is no longer fitting. Consumers want brands to treat them as equals and speak to them like human beings, not customers. And to maintain customer loyalty and business, brands need to cater to this.

3.0 is cultural marketing. It’s personal, ethical, and dynamic and requires abandoning traditional customer service techniques that draw a line between brands and consumers. To be successful, brands need to now connect with their customers by showing they care.

After all, if you care about them, they’ll care about you.

The importance of customer relationships

No matter the changes in brand-customer relationships, a connection is integral. It always has been, even when segmentation was the key to successful products.

Whether a brand sells its product or connects directly with its audience, fostering a strong customer relationship to create an emotional connection is the best way to gain their trust and increase customer satisfaction.

The Harvard Business Review spent almost a decade looking into customer emotions. So many companies knew their importance, but nobody knew how to use it. 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 aware of it.

Consumer-brand relationships are unique in their understanding of ingrained motivation. Customers want to see brands as their friends, partner, or family; like families, they want to know a brand knows them better than they know themselves. In turn, brands need to fill that void with strong customer relationships built on brand loyalty and trust — one that makes their customers feel like they matter.

Customers are clued in — they know when or not somebody is being real with them, which is why customer experience is the secret ingredient to a successful customer relationship.

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

Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors.

– Forbes

The connectivity of customer experience

From streaming services to washing machines, every product and service has competition.

Brands need to stand out from the crowd when there’s so much choice on the market. And, unless they’re lucky or renowned, they won’t do that with an algorithmic ad campaign or the newest, shiniest product. They need to do it by reaching and connecting with their potential customers.

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; a figure expected to rise to 81% within the next few years.

But brands should also know that simple customer service won’t hit the mark. On the contrary, they need globalized, multilingual customer support and agents that can consider different perspectives and who know the products as much as those seeking help.

This is 5CA’s raison d’être. It’s why we exist. It’s also how we deliver superior CX and outsource great customer service teams.

Build better brand-customer relationships with quality customer experience 

As we move into the era of marketing 4.0, customer experience will only become more valuable. Customer experience analytics will be a considerable asset that brands can use to obtain real-time customer insights.

These insights help brands drive product development and innovation by allowing them to fine-tune every aspect of the customer journey. In doing so, they create a more personalized experience that customers will emotionally respond to.

Knowing what consumers are looking for will be essential in moving forward, and trusted customer experiences can quickly fill those gaps.

What’s next?

The not-so-distant future of brand-customer relationships will be a mix of traditional and new techniques, all catering to customers. More traditional aspects help to foster awareness and are suitable for brand loyalty, while contemporary elements provide real-time insights and the possibility of cultivating the emotional connections people desire.

With globalization and remote customer service options, brands can reach a broader market with access to a global talent pool of people who speak every language their customers do.

Providing these things strengthens consumer relationships and proves that personalized, multilingual customer service is the best way forward for happier customers, a better brand image, and long-term brand equity.


Strengthen your brand-customer relationships and improve customer loyalty with high-quality, data-driven customer service tailored to your brand. Contact us for more information.

5CA

5CA

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