Adapting to the Changing Needs of Customers in a Digital Age

ben francia | by Ben Francia |Last Updated: April 30, 2020

Learn the 5 key areas that can help you deepen your relationships with your customers in this digital age

In a time of rapidly changing economies and ways of handling everyday life, it goes without saying that users all over the world have evolved. Everyone and everything is connected, from your workout watch and your computer, to the people next door and their relatives abroad. The average reasonable consumer has a network of other potential customers ready to learn anything about a product or service they’ve experienced, effectively making them influencers.

These consumers are no longer a general set of people to broadcast to, they’re customer networks. These days, whenever a brand posts something on the Internet, consumers aren’t just “informed”, they’re given platforms to respond to it. When brands sell to an individual, it is selling to a member of a network who will most definitely be informed of the experience.

As a business owner, you should be aware of the digital transformation that’s already happening and how you can adapt. Your customer isn’t just another number on your list, it’s an individual who has thoughts, feelings and emotions. So delight them, and they’ll spread your marketing message to everyone in their network. Make them feel bad and the rest, perhaps including your business, is history.

In this regard, there are five key areas you can work on to build deeper and better relationships with your customers in this digital age.

Increase and Enhance Customer Access

In this day and age of digital connectedness, it’s no longer acceptable to not be online. As proven by the COVID pandemic, if you want to survive, you need to be present in the search engines, in social media platforms and in people’s mobile phones. Be where your customers are, and you’ll reap the rewards of accessibility.

Building a website is a must if you want to attract your customers to an online hub that you control. It’s through your website where you can feature your services and company story. If applicable, create an ecommerce site so your customers can peruse through your product catalog and order.

Being on social media is also a must because that’s where members of your target audience usually hang out and socialize. Lastly, make sure that your online places are responsive and can be easily accessible on mobile devices.

Engage Your Customer Online with Awesome Content

The only effective way to engage your customers in a landscape that’s full of distractions and short attention spans is through valuable content. As mentioned above, your customers are individuals who have their respective goals, barriers towards those goals and problems. Creating content that revolves around this allows you to effectively get their attention and keep it.

Valuable and engaging content is essentially anything that helps the audience solve their problems, achieve their goals or enhance their experience. How to blog posts and FAQ articles are focused solely on helping solve the problems of an audience. It goes without saying that it is these types of content that resonates with online audiences and gets shared more often than usual.

That doesn’t mean however that you can’t talk about your business anymore. Being audience-centric doesn’t mean you should talk about them all the time. You can actually talk about your organization while engaging your customer. By writing a sensible story about your brand and including its vision statement, you can create an image that your customers can resonate to. After all, audiences online resonate more to a brand with a human face than just one with a corporate logo.

Consider other formats as well by entertaining podcasts and videos. These media are easily more consumed than academically written white papers or 1000-word articles. Of course, this should depend on your target audience’s preference and preferred way of communicating.

Customize and Personalize Your Customer’s Experience of Your Brand

Gone are the days when one size fits all. These days, digitally transformed brands give their customers a multitude of options to choose from. In a cutthroat landscape of constantly decaying attention spans and an ever-expanding list of growing demands, giving your potential and existing customers these options can give you the competitive edge.

Make things customizable for them from your online interfaces to the products and services you provide. If you have a product catalog that sells anything wearable, provide them a myriad of colors they can choose from. If you’re selling software, give them the opportunity to adjust its settings as it fits. Give them bundles and promos that will most likely address their needs and capacity at the time. This makes your brand more versatile when responding to the needs and wants of your target customers.

The same is true with the way you interact with them online. If your brand bible or style guide allows it, be a little more casual than usual. Allow your brand to become a person and address members of your audience or customer list by their first names. Personalize the experience of your brand, and you’ll keep their trust.

At the end of the day, it’s all about intuitive user-experience and entertaining the audience as individuals. Make them feel like they’re being served on an individual basis, and they’ll say wonderful things about your brand.

Connect with Your Customers and Join Online Conversations

As mentioned earlier, individuals online are part of larger customer networks that engage with each other on a regular basis. Whether it’s in a live webinar run by an expert in a specific industry, or in a community-driven Facebook page, people will talk about products and services.

As a business owner, you should take advantage of this by taking part in these same discussions. It is through these discussions where you can get feedback about certain products and services and how you can potentially make your business better. In fact, it is in the same channels where you might get feedback about what people are saying about your brand. So listen and engage well whilst in these platforms.

The tricky part is identifying which channels your audience hangs out in. Regardless of industry however, people will most likely be on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. The rest should be a quick Google search for forums about certain topics or industries related to you. Once you’ve found them, join their ranks and listen.

Joining these conversations and listening to them isn’t enough however. When you’ve gotten an idea of how conversations start and how people react towards certain topics, start providing value. Answer questions, provide references for helping people with their problems and, given enough time, pitch your brand in when the opportunity allows it. The secret is to become a very active member of the community and be as helpful as possible.

When you’ve built a following, publishing a webinar that talks about a certain topic your audience members are very engaged with might be a good idea. It can be a common problem of members of the community, or just an industry-related subject that’s up for debate. Having webinars that discusses these topics and allowing people to discuss with each other doesn’t only give your brand more eyeballs, it also makes them recognize you as an authority in the subject.

Making yourself a valuable member in any of these channels gives your brand an opportunity to learn more about the needs of your target audience and how to help them. So join those discussions, listen well and answer to the needs of your customers.

Invest in Customer Collaboration

The Internet has amplified the already collaborative nature of human beings by providing several channels of communication. That, plus having several thousands of like-minded people located across the globe to converge in these platforms allows for more nuanced collaboration and cooperation.

It is through these innovations in communication and collaboration that crowdfunding finds its success. A lot of businesses have started and have flourished through mere crowdfunding. By either providing audiences with products or services that they’d love, or by straight up asking about it, crowdfunded businesses have been founded and thrived.

As a business owner, crowdfunding or having a healthy customer collaboration simply involves asking your audience to help in different areas of your enterprise. It can be as simple as sending them a survey form asking how else to improve your services or products or an email that asks them specifically what they’d like to get from you.

The point of customer collaboration is to have your audience help your business improve. This does more than that, however, because you’re literally involving your customer audience in the development of your business. This is significant because it makes them feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.

Your Customers Have Evolved, Don’t Get Left Behind

At the end of the day, only businesses that have shown the utmost willingness to adapt and transform according to their customers needs survive.  Since life has changed vastly over the span of decades, with people all over the world talking about points of interests, industries and, most of all, products and services, it’s time for business owners like you to evolve

Long gone are the days when customers are mere numerical points of data, they’re living breathing beings that need your attention and service. They have feelings and thoughts that they would love for you to hear and build your business with. Adapt according to their needs, and you’ll thrive in this digital age.

At the end of the day, it’s all about accepting that times have changed and it’s time to take that first step into digital transformation. If you have questions about digital transformation or have suggestions on these five key areas, share them in the comments section below.

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