Understanding the empowered customer is a priority for many companies, but it’s more urgent for particular industries. In an article for Entrepreneur, Vision Critical founder and president Andrew Reid explains why companies in the retail, healthcare and sports entertainment industries need to embrace customer love right away.
Retail customers demand a more seamless experience
Retailers can no longer rely on brand loyalty to drive revenue and sales. According to Reid, customer loyalty is dwindling in retail because of the following:
- Ecommerce, which impacts foot traffic and in-store revenue. “Seldom do customers walk into a store, make a purchase and walk out,” Reid says.
- The ubiquity of mobile, which empowers customers to easily compare prices and product features.
- The rise of direct selling, which lets customers buy directly from companies like Apple and Microsoft instead of going through a retailer.
The key is to provide a seamless experience to customers. The new reality of retail requires companies to get closer to their customers. Retailers need to follow the lead of Target, a company that has “invested heavily to perfect its omnichannel experience,” according to Reid. Best Buy is also a good example: the company turned its business around by committing to understanding what problems their customers face providing solutions to those problems.
The healthcare industry suddenly becomes competitive
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act caught hospitals and health insurance companies off guard. “Following the legislation, Americans are now required to have health insurance or risk being fined,” explains Reid. “And they're given more options to select from when it comes to their healthcare provider.”
Increased competition in the industry means health care providers and insurance companies now need to think like a retailer. They need to understand and meet the demands their customers.
Horizon Healthcare Services, a New Jersey-based healthcare insurance company, demonstrates how companies in this industry can tap into patient insight. The company engages with members through Talk to Horizon, a secure, online insight community, on an ongoing basis for feedback. Patient insight is helping Horizon deliver better member services, which help drive down costs. In one recent example, the company enhanced its explanation-of-benefits form based on a conversation with customers through the company’s insight community. The improvements saved members time and reduced customer service costs for Horizon.
Ticket sales decline in the sports entertainment business
Sports teams are suffering from declining ticket sales because of the amount of entertainment options available to fans today. Explains Reid, “From different sports game options to minor leagues, from the movies to the local play, consumers are offered many different ways to spend their time and their money.”
Fans are also less motivated to watch their sports team in person because of the availability and affordability of home theater systems. Why spend a lot of money watching your team in an arena when you can enjoy the game from home? Watching sports highlights and live streaming games through mobile is also becoming more common.
Attracting fans requires delivering the ultimate in-game experience, according to Reid. Fan engagement can help companies drive ticket sales, enhance corporate partnerships and increase merchandise sales.
The three industries mentioned here exemplify the speed and fickleness of today’s market. No industry is immune from the empowered customer—even established industries like retail, sports and health care can quickly change. A commitment to truly loving your customers—by understanding their preferences and motivations and by engaging them in a two-way conversation—is a requirement to thrive in today’s marketplace.
To learn even more about how putting your customers first can help you get ahead, download The Four Tenets of Customer Love, an ebook authored by Tyler Douglas, chief marketing officer at Vision Critical.