OPINION3 September 2013

The importance of the personal touch

Opinion

There are good (financial) reasons why every chief executive should understand the importance of being digitally connected, says Sitecore UK’s Shawn Cabral.

As the influence of the internet continues to grow, more consumers are engaging with brands online. Today, business leaders need to use digital channels in support of their business so that they can input directly on the digital strategy, engage their audiences in a two-way dialogue, and pursue business growth.

This ‘personal touch’ leadership approach is defined as a two-way communication process, supported by digital technology, which places business leaders in direct contact with their audience for the purpose of reputation management.

“Business leaders need to start listening, responding to and anticipating the needs of customers and stakeholders on their own digital platforms”

Unlike a one-way approach, which sees a business leader emit information but not respond to it, or a corporate approach which is delivered via a PR or marketing department, a two-way approach involves the CEO engaging in a direct dialogue with consumers.

A two-way communication approach is the most effective way for leaders to engage with consumers and encourage a regular exchange with stakeholders, unlike a one-way approach which uses communication channels in a single direction.

Research by Sitecore reveals the performance of ‘personal touch’ firms since 2009/10 has exceeded all other firms in the FTSE 350. This is demonstrated by annual growth rates in turnover and compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in turnover and profit.

Additionally, personal touch firms recorded a CAGR of 27% from 2009 to 2012 and a rate of 30% for 2010 to 2012. This compares to a rate of just 9% from 2009 to 2012, and 13% from 2010 to 2012 by the next best performing group; corporate two-way firms, compounding the commercial advantages of a digitally connected leadership style.

However, despite the benefits of the personal touch approach, just 7% of consumer-facing FTSE 350 businesses are adopting it. This is surprising as it means that in sectors where it is particularly vital to build strong customer relationships, a large proportion of leaders are missing the opportunity to interact effectively with their customers or stakeholders and boost the commercial growth of their firm as a result.

Business leaders need to start listening, responding to and anticipating the needs of customers and stakeholders on their own digital platforms, to produce a more loyal, sustained customer relationship that will stand the test of time.

Shawn Cabral is marketing director of Sitecore UK. A ‘Personal Touch’ whitepaper is available online here.

1 Comment

6 years ago

Shawn - I couldn't agree with you more! This is why at EasyInsites, we always say that every company across all sectors and whether big or small could and should have their own customer panel. These insight panels enable the back and forth dialogue you rightly point out as so vital to ensure commercial growth through better marketing decision making.

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