Really getting to know your customers

Daniel Bausor, MD at Famous4, talks through his four-point guide to how to better understand the customer journey

Everyone says they really want to get to know their customers. Blah, blah, blah I hear you all say! In all seriousness, all B2B marketers should get to know their customers better or face being marginalised.

It’s always been the case that those organisations that have stronger customer relationships are far more likely to have stronger brands and more profitable businesses. However, there is an emerging trend for ‘cognitive commerce’ where there’s far more science to really knowing who the customer is. Also, there’s much to be gained from better insight combined with an effective ‘customer advocacy strategy’.

Cognitive commerce is a hot trend. It started in the customer-led Retail sector. It’s about understanding what individual customers really want and what they are saying. It provides insight into their unique personalities. From this we can far better respond to customer needs. This is exactly what customers want from B2B brands today and cognition is fundamental to making it all happen. Here’s my 4 point guide to really getting to know your customers:

1.     Understand your customers’ journey: segment your customers by the target horizontal product or service offering in your business and marketing plan, as well as by vertical. Then, do your research – and not just a one-off but build it into marketing, sales, operations and the culture of your organisation. We undertake ‘Customer Journey Audits’ which are a mix of qualitative and quantitative research with our clients’ target customer groups. Literally, we look at what the customers’ buying journey is on and offline - from how long they spend where, to which channels and information sources drive their purchase.

2.     Identify your Customer Advocates: from this research, we can map out a shortlist of customer champions or what we term ‘customer advocates’ to drive the business and marketing plan. The aim is to prioritise different decision-makers within our customer base who we can work with so that they become our champions. As the customer journey becomes ever more dynamic, your customer advocates will be critical to business growth where they’ll tell your story far more authentically.

3.     Build Customer Insight into the DNA of your organisation: the key to cognition is to structure customer insight opportunities at every step of the customer journey with all aspects of your organisation. So for example, this means that sales need to understand and capture insight on a one-on-one basis with customers; marketing, sales and operations need to capture customer preferences; and overall, marketing needs to integrate social media and legacy data into marketing automation. 

4.     Create your Customer Advocacy Engagement strategy: from your customer journey research, you’ll be able to see which touch points work best on and offline with customers driving sales and growth. This will allow you to build the right customer advocacy engagement strategy. The most important part is to tailor engagement for each target vertical/horizontal sector. Also, it’s key to create a customer advocacy programme that builds ‘mutual marketing currency’ i.e. it meets both the objectives of your customer advocates as well as your organisation.

Cognitive commerce is highly relevant to B2B where the customer journey tends to be more complex and higher value. By gaining more granular insight, we can identify patterns and make unlikely connections that allow us to better engage customers in highly-personalised ‘in the moment’ conversations. The upshot is that this can yield new business opportunities and profitable growth. Bring on cognitive commerce in 2016 to really get to know your customers.