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Interview: Why Customer Obsession is a Must-Have for Brands

Customer Obsession

Why customer obsession is a must-have for brands to prevent dangerous reputation management pitfalls and discover opportunities

Responses from Cynthia Sener, President GTM, Chatmeter

What does customer loyalty look like in today’s business landscape?

Brand loyalty is at one of its lowest points. 92% of modern consumers do not consider themselves brand loyal, which is having a massive impact on retailers, restaurants, and other multi-location enterprises.

Gone are the days where consumers had to go to physical stores or restaurants to purchase household items, clothing, food, and more. Today, the access to brick-and-mortar locations combined with the internet, which consistently has sites touting deals, is prompting buyers to research and shop around instead of turning to the brands they were once loyal to. In an analysis of consumer sentiment around the 2023 holiday season by Chatmeter, 38% of consumers mentioned pricing negatively while 45% mentioned it positively, but with the caveat that they got deals or discounts. With the deals and discounts, consumers felt they were getting value from their purchases.

Why is customer obsession is key to ensuring customer loyalty and avoiding backlash?

Consumer voices are everywhere. From online reviews and social platforms to in-person conversations and videos, the voice of the consumer has never been louder or more powerful. With the ever increasing use of social media, a single comment on Yelp can now be amplified to a viral video. Individual consumers are sharing their feedback online, gaining traction and prompting brands to have to respond to their claims. What was once one comment coming from the perspective of one person can now snowball into the opinion of many, even if they didn’t have the same experience.

Brands across the world have reached a pivotal point in time where if they don’t have the right infrastructure in place to capture customer feedback and sentiment from every channel at all times, they could find themselves in trouble. They have to become obsessed with listening to their customers.

In the fall, Chipotle raised its prices resulting in backlash from its customers across social media. One social media post went viral, slamming the price hikes and talking about the downfall of the brand. Had Chipotle communicated its reasoning for the price increases and stayed on top of the different narratives brewing across social media, it’s possible the story line may have never gotten the exposure it did.

By staying in front of the customer – across all platforms – brands, like Chipotle, have an opportunity to take action on any and all feedback that comes through. According to a Chatmeter survey, 58% of consumers want brands to acknowledge their comments and fix problems quickly, and 76% said they would go back and update a negative review if a company satisfied their complaint. Brands now have access to treasure troves of data that outlines customer feedback and sentiment that can easily make or break their image. With over 70% of consumers posting reviews when they have a great experience with a company, and self-described non-posters (60%) considering posting based on an unbelievably positive experience, there’s no reason to shy away from interaction with customers. Giving them undivided attention can help harness loyalty and avoid backlash.

How can AI better inform marketers’ understanding of the voice of the customer?

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing marketing and how marketers are addressing their customer base. AI-powered deep listening technology has the power to turn large volumes of unsolicited customer feedback from online reviews, social media posts, and other forms of unstructured data into actionable, strategic insights, giving brands real-time, honest experiences with their customers that help keep them loyal.

With AI, marketing professionals have better insights into what is happening at all locations. As hundreds of reviews come in from all channels every week or even every day, it’s impossible for humans to analyze and summarize all of that feedback in real time for the big picture of how the brand is performing, as well as slice and dice the data to see how individual locations are serving their customers. With AI, it’s possible.

For example, a restaurant chain may have a few stores in Arkansas where the food quality has been poor and sales have been declining because of mediocre customer service. By implementing AI, the store manager would be able to quickly find out what food products haven’t been hitting the mark and make adjustments accordingly. They’d also be able to take the feedback about the customer service and implement new training programs to help support both staff and customers. While these insights are location based, they serve as an indicator that these issues can come up at any time and any place. Let’s say this restaurant chain also has locations in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri. With AI, the marketers at the restaurant chain’s corporate headquarters also have insights into what is happening in different locations at different times, allowing them to curate special offers for specific locations, improve their food stock management based on best sellers, ensure that the brand’s customer experience is matched across locations, monitor local-level performance at the local level, including against local competitors, and more.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, marketers must leverage AI to understand and connect with their customers authentically if they want to elevate customer experiences and position themselves as standouts. In today’s world, embracing AI to inform marketing strategy is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a necessity.


Featured image provided by Liza Summer; Pexels; Thanks!

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