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What is 'The Age of the Customer'?

By Leah Sikora

It seems that each business writer has a different term for the moment we are in: the Digital Age, the Social Media Age, the Age of Recommendation, the Age of Passive Aggressive Facebook Statuses, or the Age of the Customer. These “ages” are interrelated, but begin to lose meaning when there are so many similar labels added to the mix. However, they all relate to the rise of technology in society, how it is affecting businesses, and how businesses must adapt in this high-tech era. The phrase, The Age of the Customer, was coined by the experts over at Forrester Research in 2011 and refers primarily to how technology, social media, and efficient information exchange will affect product development and marketing. In particular, it refers to the next 20 years in which businesses will transition to become more adaptable and customer-obsessed than ever.

The Customer Isn’t Only Right, They are the Authority

In the Age of the Customer, individual customers have an exceptional amount of sway in the market. With so many open channels for communication and engagement between customers and brands, customer needs and desires can be much more effectively communicated. Companies must be more customer-focused and adaptable to customer needs in order to provide the best product and service for today’s educated, empowered consumer. In the Age of the Customer, products and services are developed with the consumer in mind. Companies don’t create a product, then find the audience for it by marketing— they do the opposite by finding the audience first.

What this means is that customers are expecting the best of everything: the best, highest-quality product, the best customer service, and an overall enjoyable experience when interacting with brands. If one of these elements is lacking, today’s consumer is not afraid to search elsewhere. In the Age of the Customer, brand loyalty is going to be more difficult and more important to secure than ever. How will the successful companies of the next 20 years achieve this? By becoming adaptable, being forward-thinking, and staying connected and on the cutting edge.

Marketing in the Age of the Customer

With so much information circulating, customer attention spans online are pretty divided. Drawing the customer in and keeping them interested is tricky. The most effective method of marketing will be to make an emotional and personal connection with the customer. This can include telling an engaging story through marketing or responding to comments and questions on social media. Web and mobile presence are essential for enabling consumers to find you as well as for interacting with customers who expect to have access to your brand anytime on any device.

Content marketing is a necessary tool in a market where so many consumers are actively searching for information online. Positioning your product as the best of its kind is important, but positioning yourself as an expert in your industry will keep customers coming back. This means consistently posting great, informative, keyword-optimized content on your blog and social media platforms. Customers are searching for you, but you must be present for them to find you.

The Age of the Online Review?

Also known as the Age of Recommendation, this Internet-centric moment allows customers to be the drivers of brand awareness. They can reinforce or damage a company by supporting a brand on social media or sharing critiques. In addition to taking recommendation from a vast network of consumers, they can research products in depth and compare prices across an industry. It is important in the Age of the Customer, not only to engage with customers to build brand loyalty, but to monitor the interwebs for mentions— either good or bad— of your company. There is much to be learned from engaged customers, but customer service inquiries and negative feedback must be addressed in a timely manner to protect online reputation.

In this way, customers are becoming informed about your product outside of your direct marketing efforts. They are becoming more savvy and are changing the way they are marketed to. Many brands are finding success with guerilla-style marketing tactics: a unique event where you encourage attendees to instagram photos; a promotion that encourages customers to share photos or information related to your company; an entertaining video. In this way, you can leverage your existing following to build a much larger following. Advertising and marketing must be clever to compete in the Age of the Customer, which might include tactics that seem counter-intuitive at first.

Traditional business practices are quickly becoming obsolete in the Age of the Customer. Focusing marketing efforts on digital channels provides businesses with cost-effective and measurable way to reach customers. Collecting data and implementing data-driven strategies is much more effective than the way marketing used to be conducted of producing ads, running them, and hoping consumers would react to them.

At Lunar Logic, we specialize in building and improving web presences for businesses in addition to numerous other digital solutions. Contact us today to learn more about our business and how we can prepare yours for the Age of the Customer.

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