How the customer sandwich model can feed consumer centricity

29 April 2021 Consultancy.uk 6 min. read

The classic business mantra “customer is king” still rings true today, but how brands achieve this has changed dynamically with the digital-first landscape and evolving trends. Steve Carrod, Managing Director at digital experience enablement business DMPG, explains why businesses need to consider a customer sandwich model to feed success. 

Today, consumers purchase with purpose. Recent research from PA Consulting subsidiary Sparkler has highlighted that half of people feel Covid-19 has shown them which businesses are most important to them, and eight in ten believe a brand’s actions now speak louder than its words.

Further to these findings, almost three-quarters (72%) of consumers agree it’s more critical than ever for digital channels to be trustworthy. With buyers now prioritising how they purchase as much as what they purchase, brands need to build authenticity, trust, and genuine value into the customer experience. 

How the customer sandwich model can feed consumer centricity

However, when this is layered with ongoing concerns around digital and physical safety, defining how best to connect with consumers can be a complex undertaking. Digitally focused businesses require a single customer view to gain a clear, 360-degree picture of buyers and their behaviours, as well as the ability to actually use this view for enhancing consumer engagement. 

If business success now relies on brands generating a unified and tailored experience, a ‘customer sandwich model’ could be a way to feed this. So, what should they address to make this happen? 

Too many cooks in the kitchen?

A customer sandwich model is based on the understanding that companies should both begin and end with consumers’ needs, then sandwich all other elements in between. At present, the majority of companies have very siloed teams that each own a unique workstream and a specific viewpoint on their customers. For example, the customer service team might have a more qualitative view of consumer interactions, while the data analytics team owns a quantitative view of historical events. 

To connect with buyers in an optimal way, businesses must overcome this disconnect. Ideally, a customer data platform (CDP) is used to create a comprehensive view of consumers. With one team managing the customer voice through this tool, companies can share all relevant information between departments, amend any disconnects, and build a more cohesive experience for the consumer.

Almost one-third (30%) of consumers say they’ve become more loyal to brands that have helped them throughout the pandemic, indicating a strong opportunity for businesses to build deeper customer relationships with supportive, personalised experiences.

Identifying what consumers want is the first step in creating the customer sandwich; this will form the structure of any strategy.

No matter their department or location, all employees must be aligned to meet customer expectations, and businesses should create a dedicated team to stay in touch with the customer voice and oversee their expectations to achieve success. 

The ‘customer sandwich’ theory – and how to prepare it

From the consumer’s perspective, the metrics businesses use to monitor performance goals offer no value. Instead of cost per acquisition or return on investment, their goals are the answers to the following questions: does the brand provide what I need? Is the product good quality or value for money? Is it easy to purchase? In response, businesses should make these goals the top level of their sandwich. 

Immediately after this comes the team responsible for monitoring the consumer voice, which could be led by a Customer Success Manager, to operate in the business on customers’ behalf.  

For the sandwich filling, brands must develop a strategy that blends consumer priorities with the business’s need to be profitable. Talent, tools, and work processes are mixed in here – and while these will differ across teams, they need to be aligned to implement a cohesive consumer journey and experience. Keeping all this together is the final layer, which is again the customer.

Naturally business KPIs will focus on profitability, but teams should prioritise consumer centric KPIs that measure the relevance, quality, and trust generated by the customer experience. 

The secret ingredient for customer centricity

Metrics that score product quality, friction in the path to purchase, and brand loyalty are essential for completing the customer sandwich model. Often brands lean toward short-term, revenue-oriented goals, but these shouldn’t compromise the primary objective to satisfy consumer needs. 

For example, RS Components – a global omni-channel solutions partner for businesses that design, build or maintain industrial equipment and facilities – recently adapted its personalisation strategy to meet consumers’ needs digitally. This resulted in the ability to deliver true incremental revenue gains while also moving them more towards a customer-centric experience. 

To realise true customer centricity, businesses must keep in touch with consumer habits and preferences even as they emerge. A CDP allows teams to leverage the data brands collect on customer behaviours and inform optimisations to the consumer journey. Whether increasing targeting precision or tailoring unique recommendations, CDPs are a valuable tool that empowers businesses to serve what customers really want. 

Moreover, unifying consumer data enables predictive capabilities, which enriches a brand’s relationship with both long-term and prospective customers. When integrated across all digital channels, CDPs let businesses accurately generate a personalised experience at each consumer touchpoint – helping them prioritise and deliver on all consumer needs. 

Placing consumers at the start and finish of a business is the best way to craft a customer experience that meets their needs. By ensuring consumer centricity across all departments, businesses can unify their efforts to successfully build valuable customer relationships, boost engagement, and sustain brand loyalty.