An excerpt from the book, Customer Relationship Management by HBR
Customers are fundamentally changing the dynamics of the marketplace. The market has now become a forum in which consumers play an active role in creating and competing for value.
In this way, managers were able to identify new business opportunities and find new ways to deploy the company’s intellectual assets.
At a minimum, managers must come to grips with four fundamental realities in harnessing customer competence.
1. ENCOURAGING AN ACTIVE DIALOGUE
Companies no longer have a monopoly or even an advantage in information access. Engaging in a dialogue with customers who know what they want requires richer and subtler forms of exchange. A dialogue must evolve – or die. Companies should be able tofind ways to process what they learn from customers so they can bring the dialogue forward and keep the customer’s interest.
2. MOBILIZING CUSTOMER COMMUNITIES
Customers in the new economy are finding it easier to form, on their own, self-selecting virtual communities. Customer communities can exercise a powerful influence on the market. The power of such communities in large measure is from the speed with which they can be mobilized. Word spreads so fast on the internet that people refer to word of mouth as ‘viral marketing’. In the new market, brand positioning evolves with customer’s personalized experiences.
3. MANAGING CUSTOMER DIVERSITY
Consumer’s experiences of a certain product or service are different – therefore their judgment of that product will vary according to their skills, user’s sophistication, privacy and security. Globalization in the marketplace also heightens the variation in customer sophistication.
4. COCREATING PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES
Customers are no longer just interested with the product but rather, want to shape the experience around themselves, both individually and with with the experts. Customization and Personalization is different. Customization assumes that the manufacturer will design the product to suit a customer’s needs while Personalization is about the customer becoming a co creator of the content of their experience.