It may be the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese zodiac, but in business trends a more fitting name might be the Year of the Customer. In several ways, small, mid-sized, and enterprise-level businesses are turning to their clients for guidance.
Seeking out customer preferences helps companies hone their product offerings and marketing approaches. Jeffrey Hayzlett has gathered insight about 5 major trends you can use to make sure your company is aligning closer with the most important people in your industry: your customers.
Trend 1: Elevated customer engagement – Sales is being transformed by a stronger focus on relationships. Rather than a mere transaction, customers are starting to expect companies to provide personalized services. What are recommendations you can offer? What extra insight can you give for someone interested in your products?
Trend 2: Customer data collection – How do you know what to recommend to your customers? From the data you're gathering. (You are gathering data, right?) A quality CRM package is vital here. After you have the needed information, make it a priority to leverage that data into programs and features that take your customer engagement even farther.
Trend 3: Automation – You might not have the resources or clientele to make artificial intelligence and holographic computing a profitable investment, but you can still leverage your tools. That CRM package you invest in should have options for automatically notifying the right person when things need attention. Likewise, your inventory software should recognize low levels and initiate orders to resupply, so when a customer contacts you, the product is on hand.
Trend 4: Crowdfunding – This trend takes customer engagement into the future. It's asking clients just how interested they are in new product lines and services. Then they answer with their wallet. It may take some innovation on your part, but the insight you get into customer preferences can be priceless. Similar appeals directly to the customer include surveys and even informal face-to-face conversations with your shoppers.
Trend 5: Specialization – As soon as you can, start focusing your attention on the niche customers that are most interested in your products and services. The Internet casts a wide net, so as soon as you establish your website and e-commerce pages, you are reaching broadly, in fact globally. But you need to concentrate on understanding what kinds of people see themselves as the best match for your company. Learn from them and cater to them in order to find more customers like them.
Of course you won't be able to fully implement all these options simultaneously. As an entrepreneur, you've got look at your business model and make the decisions that work right for your growing company. But these recommendations can give you inspiration for what angle you need to make 2017 the year of your success.