MARKETING AFRICA MAL 18/17 mal 18:17 online - Page 21

thrust out. All at the customer’s preferred place and time. Selling as the most traditional yet still highly effective promotional activity, is bound to hit a dead end should the potential customer feel ‘inconvenienced’ in any way, and savvy sales people create convenient options for their customers. Prof. Steven Van Belleghem in his revolutionary piece - How Bots and Neuro Linguistic Programming are Shifting the Customer Journey – indicates that the reality for businesses today, is that convenience is the new customer loyalty. Where customers used to fall in love with brands, they now love interfaces, and customer loyalty will be determined by the ones that make their life easy. He goes further to make the case for bots and algorithm based decision making, arguing logically that if any company can intelligently predict their customer’s needs, they can provide a truly outstanding level of customer service. This new way of approaching customer convenience and applying a futuristic model to current norms, should keep all marketing and customer experience professionals awake at night. Brands should no longer be competing on price and packaging options, but on service delivery as inspired by ingenious ways to string the customer’s harp, and strike chords that generate convenience resonance. Organizations should be scouting for partnerships with technological outfits that are innovating around digital companions and apps that will become man’s best friend, using combinations of text analysis, visio- facial analytics and audio monitoring, to determine customer behavior. Knowing your customer means really listening to them at their comfort through all channels possible, and truly understanding what convenience means to them; then using that knowledge to create products and solutions tailored to delivering on their expectations, and further exceeding them through delightful service delivery. Marketing has indeed evolved over time, and current definitions by marketing scholars revolve around basing marketing on customer needs and customer satisfaction. The central place that value for customers at all levels has taken in marketing discussions needs to be acknowledged. Creating, communicating, and delivering value for stakeholders underpins the most tactical and strategic marketing plans. Customers attach value to two simple things – their time and their efforts. They are willing to pay the price and appreciate return on investment for products and services that demonstrate requisite weightage towards the worth and significance of these, to the individual and collective customer. Convenience, that is officially defined as the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty, or anything that saves or simplifies work adding to one’s ease or comfort, should constitute the genotype of any marketing strategy worth considering. Customer convenience is indeed the new marketing ... please take note. Carolyne Gathuru is the founder and director of strategy at LifeSkills Consulting. She has several years of experience in customer experience strategy development and training. You can commune with her on this or related issues via mail at: CGathuru@life-skills.co.ke