In a world in which individuals can use social media to communicate pleasure or displeasure instantly, consumers have become unpaid brand ambassadors.

The ability to understand customers, spot changes in their behaviour and adapt quickly to new consumer trends is fundamental to the success of any business. Today, however, organisations face a tougher challenge than ever before when it comes to understanding consumers. The Internet, and particularly, the rise of social media have empowered consumers more than ever before.

The implications for business are clear — in order to flourish, many companies will have to look again at the manner in which they communicate or interact with consumers.

To create loyalty, brand is now more important than ever, and that brand is intrinsically linked with the customer experience that companies provide. It is essential, then, for customer service to be flawless.

Consumers today expect to be able to exert a more tangible influence on companies than before, moving beyond the role of purchaser and toward that of co-creator. Organisations that engage proactively and collaboratively with customers will be able to devise more effective product development strategies, as well as fostering feelings of ownership among consumers and, therefore, increasing their loyalty to the brand.

(Adapted from ‘This time it is personal: from consumer to co-creator’ by Ernst & Young)

(This article was published on June 15, 2012)
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