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Communication—the Competitive Strategy in the “Age of the Customer”.

 

Empowered via the internet and social media, customers are disrupting every industry; competitive barriers like manufacturing strength, distribution power and marketing mastery are no longer enough. In this age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers; in other words, communication and the customer experience takes centre-stage. (Customer experience = how customers perceive their interactions with a company.)

Customers are the ultimate arbiters. The customer experience is a business discipline in its own right, complete with tools, methodologies and practices that organizations must routinely perform to define, implement and manage the customer experience. Many firms lack a clear customer experience strategy or their customer experience initiatives don’t meet their full potential—or worse, fail completely because companies don’t have a complete picture of what the customer experience actually entails or the dynamics that go into creating it. And when the business goal is to enter global markets, firms can find themselves facing a business communications initiative of unwieldy proportions.

Every company in every industry can leverage great customer experiences to: bolster brand equity, garner customer loyalty and boost revenue and lower costs. The first steps to create a company-wide systematic focus on the customer experience are to:

  • Dedicate personnel to the customer experience.
  • Allocate a budget to customer experience initiatives.
  • Craft a communications and customer experience strategy.

In order to get results and bring focus to the customer experience efforts it’s important to:

  • Assess the maturity of your customer experience capabilities.
  • Determine the root causes of your customer experience problems.
  • Prove the ROI of communications and customer experience improvements.
  • Select great partners: outsource the expertise to add value with lower overall costs.

A successful communication strategy with a focus on customer experience takes planning and begins with great writers who know how to craft a story and tell it well: turning perplexing problems into tidy tidbits of information to communicate effectively. It involves building a topic library using information architecture and structured writing.

By capturing knowledge, tying it together as topics and tagged content units, these building blocks are used to publish from a single-source using an Extensible Markup Language (XML). Knowledge can be built once and then re-purposed for multiple uses. The real efficiency is that when it’s time to edit and update the deliverables, all of the changes can be made in one place, saving time and money in resources. From this single repository there can be output to product manuals, product sheets and brochures, animated training tutorials, searchable content for the web or mobile devices and contextually linked help files for software applications. This is especially cost effective when requiring output of information for translation to multiple languages. 

 

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