Analyst Report

Engagement in the Age of the Customer

What are the consequences for companies that fail to understand the customer relationship or lag in focusing on the customer?

The momentum of the past 30 years of Internet and mobile technology development is propelling us into a new era, one where the dynamic between businesses and their customers has flipped. Consumer buying habits and attitudes have changed. People are more discriminating and more likely to brand hop, more difficult to acquire and keep as customers; offer acceptance rates are plummeting, while churn rates and customer service costs are escalating, all of which are consequences of the lack of a customer relationship.

Price and product have become less important as differentiators, and businesses find themselves competing more on the quality and consistency of the experience they can provide. Consumers now hold the power and demand to be met on their own terms, and businesses must learn to meet those needs. Otherwise, they risk being overtaken or having their business models disrupted.

“You have all these things that essentially allow the consumers to get what they want, when they want, how they want—all through an app,” says Brian Solis,
author of X, The Experience When Business Meets Design and former principal analyst at San Francisco based Altimeter Group, a research consultancy focused on disruptive technology. “This is important because it’s starting to condition the marketplace, and consumers specifically, to expect things their way.”

In this environment, it is increasingly critical that businesses deliver a high-quality experience, consistent across an ever-increasing number of digital and physical touch points, and increase customer engagement with their brands.  This new consumer-led era is what consulting firm Forrester Research has termed the Age of the Customer, explaining on its website the need for businesses to meet the challenges of this age by aligning not around product or business line, but around the customer1: “A customer-obsessed enterprise focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.”

Customer relationship strategies help with speeding up acquisition and improving retention, while increasing upsell and cross-sell opportunities