Talent shortages are plaguing companies across the country. What if your customers leave next?
In the past year, 47.8 million workers quit their jobs, an average of nearly four million each month. In the current reality, people are reassessing what’s important to them and how they want to live their lives. They are changing how they work, and with increasing economic pressures, you can bet they are also rethinking how they spend their dollars.
Even if historic customer bases were solid, companies can’t count on them for the future. As the resignation of employees continues, the real potential of an impending “great customer resignation” should be a wake-up call.
Companies need to pay attention to what is shifting and changing in the lives of their customers. People are reexamining meaning in their lives and concurrently re-prioritizing the way they spend money to better align with their values and goals.
Now is not the time to be complacent, but rather recognize the opportunity of changing circumstances. Organizations need to commit to understanding customers’ desires at a life-level to ensure long-term relevancy and success.
EMPATHETIC HUMAN CONNECTION
Companies should begin by establishing an empathetic connection with their current and potential customers. Time should be spent “sharing” life so they can see and understand the world from their customers’ perspective.
Companies must determine how customers want to live their lives; which includes understanding the values and goals most important to them. What desired life experiences do consumers really want? How will offerings help individuals meet not only their functional needs, but also their emotional yearnings?
Adopting an open, empathetic mindset lays the path for the questioning, listening, and observing required to get in tune with people’s emotional needs and motivating values.
Building empathetic connections drives effective innovation by revealing insights and creating understanding of the gaps between current life reality and desired future aspirations. Resolving the tension between where customers are, and where they want to be in life, is where the greatest opportunities lie.
Just as empathy has become a strategic leadership imperative in the workplace (76% of people with highly empathetic senior leaders report often or always feeling engaged), empathy is also critical to building authentic customer engagement and satisfaction.
ESTABLISHING SHARED VALUES
In today’s world demonstrating shared values and building foundations of trust with customers is critical, as 95% of purchase decision-making is made in the subconscious mind, per Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman.
When companies design offerings and take actions that authentically reflect back shared values: they create trust, build deeper relationships, secure long-term loyalty, and help customers achieve their personal aspirations.
In a recent study 76% of respondents say the brands they buy make the world a better place , 67% said the brands they buy make them a better person, and 84.3% of consumers are more inclined to be loyal to a brand that shares its values.
Individuals want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are looking to align themselves with companies that invest in social change, establish augmented diversity, equity and inclusion practices, and raise environmental and governance standards.
Through co-discovery, companies can determine forward-thinking, purpose-driven actions that are matched with principles their customers share. Resolving tensions customers feel and embracing their personal aspirations as joint opportunities, companies have the chance to establish lasting affinity.
RECIPROCITY AND FIERCE LOYALTY
Fierce loyalty is represented by intense devotion to companies and brands; beyond logic or reason.
Loyal customers spend more, are more likely to repurchase, refer more, and try new offerings from your company or brand. Customers that are fiercely loyal are even more firm in their commitment. Fiercely loyal customers with values-based relationships are more likely to stay the course, even when times get tough.
However, fiercely loyal customers demand reciprocity in the relationship.
Once organizations make statements and promises, they need to fulfill them or risk an erosion of trust. Breaking trust destroys established relationships, and places companies in a worse position than if promises had never been made in the first place.
And because 81% of shoppers make decisions based on their level of trust for a brand, it will be critical for companies to follow through on their commitments to shared values if they hope to inspire fierce loyalty.
Determine the values-based spaces you are willing to invest in and be creative regarding how customers can engage with you. Fiercely loyal customers want to have a “we” relationship. Not at “I” and “them.” Fierce loyalty demands a meaningful relationship, based on mutual respect, that creates value for both customer and provider.
Connecting empathetically, establishing shared values, inspiring fierce loyalty: future-proofing requires a mindset shift to build stronger bonds with the customers you serve, with a reward of long-term relevancy and growth.
What does this look like in practice?
- Build systems for getting to know your current and future customers at a human life level. Customers want to have relatable interactions with companies. Make it easy for them to engage in dialogue with your organization via social media and personalized experiences that foster exchange of information.
- Listen and take actions that show you understand and value customers’ perspectives, aspirations and changing circumstances; whether those be attitudinal, financial or other. Customers want to engage with companies who take a stand on values-related issues and show they are aligned with what is important in customers’ lives.
- Be consistent and creative. Patagonia is known for its environmental commitment, investing in its beliefs and products, and has seen associated growth in popularity and revenue. Its recent transition of ownership structure is its latest innovative move in relevance, engagement, and future-proofing.
Companies differentiating themselves in these ways build emotional ties and trusted relationships with their customer base, and ultimately will gain more value from it.
Instead of facing an upcoming customer resignation, organizations who invest in meeting customers at a life-level will see increased demand, and augmented growth, now and well into the future.
This article first appeared https://www.fastcompany.com
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