The legendary 4 P’s of marketing introduced by Jerome McCarthy in the 60’s was an incredibly powerful framework. Robert Lauterborn updated that only 3 decades later with the 4 C’s, acknowledging the shift from mass to niche marketing and the need for focus on the customer. It’s over 2 decades since, and possibly fair now to thank the gracious 4 C’s for serving us well, this long.
It’s time to herald the New with a totally new alphabet. With a bonus feature of ‘what NOT to do’.
Cutting to the chase:
The new alphabet indeed is ‘T’ and there are 5 T’s that the consumer today wants businesses to be:
1. Transparent: Many businesses believe adding a social media button/page is adding transparency. Nothing is farther from the truth. Fact is, most businesses haven’t even begun thinking what transparency means to them, leave alone what it means to their customers or employees.
Regardless, the move towards greater transparency is already underway. User reviews on TripAdvisor initially made hotels feel naked and at risk, especially as smelly rooms and creaky furniture began written about openly. Transparency there got injected forcefully. Guilty hotels could only run … for a bit, not hide. But, as need for transparency got embedded into the customer buying process, a 4.8/5 overall rating also meant easier and more clients.
Transparency injects trust. Trust attracts, grows and retains clients and employees.
2. Tailored: Many large banks to date are unable to deliver written communication even to their high net worth customers by name. Letters still read ‘Dear Valued Customer’… even if you have a million bucks with them!
The argument here is NOT to make a million different things for a million customers. It is to:
a) use what businesses know about customers to ‘portray’ tailoring e.g. a hotel remembering preference of a guest for a firm pillow from his previous visit, and b) give customers empowerment that makes them feel they are able to personalise; a simple example being a salad bar counter where you choose ingredients to your preference. Yes, it’s that easy really, if you invest a bit of time!
It’s interesting that most businesses claim to know more about their customers now than ever. And they probably do. Big data, analytics, voice analysis, is changing everything. Yet, not many businesses seem to meaningfully use what they know about their customers. ….. well, that’s far far away, yet the need for tailoring from customers is already here! Make me feel like you know me.
3. Touching: It was found a staggering 58% clients saying they have not seen any improvement in their relationship with the business. Interestingly, and on the other hand, the study also says 89% clients have a better opinion of a business that remembers previous interactions. Yes, it’s about being in touch.
Among the restaurants where you eat at frequently and call to reserve a table, how many of them say a ‘welcome back’ to you when you give them your mobile number? What if they did? A credit card officer servicing your call at your bank can see on his screen you have just returned from Cambodia but chooses not to ask how your trip was! Businesses most often let the easiest opportunities to connect with a customer slip thru their fingers. The irony being, taking advantage of these opportunities does not even need new investment. It only needs training.
Touch is what creates a connection which creates the brand which powers growth.
4. Thinking: When Amazon pro-actively prompts you what other buyers of the book title you are searching/browsing also bought, you begin liking Amazon a bit more. They are thinking for you. When YouTube shows up videos similar to what you began watching, you stay longer on YouTube.
Consumers won’t possibly admit it, but they have begun liking when a business thinks for them. What’s more, customers often don’t even know what they want. Suggestions are a great way to build a strong connect with clients. The hospitality industry, especially travel portals have mastered this art and can make strong role models for businesses to follow.
5. Timely: Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams says the internet makes human desires more easily attainable. Hence, to improve chances to sell, you need to provide relevant information on a timely basis. It’s exactly what has driven airlines to tie-up with hotels to make offers jointly, just when the visitor is on the airline’s website.
Williams goes on to say if you really see what the big things on the internet are, you realise they are masters at not making people think. They connect the dots, logically, intuitively, timely.
And now the bonus feature – The final ‘T’ … one that will represent what customers DON’T WANT, its called ‘Torture’. Consumers don’t want to be tortured. The more connected you are to your consumers, the more important it becomes for you to choose your communications and their frequency wisely. This can make or break a relation.
Yes, I know everyone agrees. But then why put a consumer thru 6 long and painful sets of automated voice menu options with each option having at least 3 sub-options leaving the caller totally frustrated, exhausted and confused. The State of the Consumer 2014 report from Gallup says 25% customers will switch provider after just one negative experience. And boy – that should scare businesses!
A call from a bank for service feedback asked if I had used their ATM in the last 30 days, and how was my experience. Next they asked if I had used online banking the last 30 days. Next they asked if I had used phone banking the last 30 days. Hell …. Shouldn’t the bank actually know the answer to each of those questions about me already? ….. Why stress me to recall!
The need to implement the 6th T is becoming a critical factor in business success. Probably more than the first 5. If customers continue to be put thru such ‘torture’, they may begin to leave. And the proverbial straw would have broken the camel’s back. A study titled ‘Leading on the edge of chaos’ by Emmet and Mark Murphy points out that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as a 10% reduction in costs. Businesses hence need to embrace this 6th dimension willingly to see how they can reduce, minimise and best still, eliminate client torture.
Those then are the new 5+1 T’s for businesses to work with, ….now and in the foreseeable future!
Edited to taste and location.
Original by Navin Suri