“What do our customers really want?” This question pops up around executive boardroom tables more frequently than ever. And so it should. We live in an era where consumers have more freedom to dictate their needs – and executives who fail to meet these will suffer the consequences in their bottom lines.
Customer experience (CX) is a crucial element, if not the most important, of your overall marketing strategy. According to Watermark Consulting’s 2019 Customer Experience ROI Study, CX leaders outperform the laggards by a cumulative total return of almost 150%. That’s also 45% higher than the S&P 500 Index.
Consumers are now more connected and informed than ever, which can challenge your existing strategies. I believe it also presents an opportunity to create better and more connected relationships with your customers. Shifting to a consumer-centric model can be difficult and requires buy-in from your leadership team and everyone in your business. To help simplify this journey, I’ve created a guide to making CX magic, a gift from our C-suite to yours.
Know your customer
CX comes down to how people feel about interacting with your brand. Like any relationship, you need to be aware of your customer’s wants and needs in the context of who they are and where they’re coming from. To do this successfully, you need to have a thorough understanding of your brand message to ensure that this interaction is mutually beneficial.
Understanding your customer goes much deeper than just knowing their credentials. Yes, you need to know their business and designation, but you also have to understand their personal and professional goals to make a real connection. Break your audience down into subsets of personas that most accurately represent their wants and needs. Pay special attention to aspects like your target audience’s age, interests, location, buying power and patterns, needs and challenges and their particular life stage. If you’re targeting other businesses, consider the size of the business and the people responsible for purchasing decisions. You can gather this information with social media analytics like Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics and by tapping into your existing customer database.
It can’t be said enough that your buyer personas must be revisited often. The Covid-19 pandemic is proof of this and has forced brands, literally overnight, to become more digitally focused. Global online traffic increased by more than 10% in June 2020 compared with January and February 2020, while online transactions increased by a significant 32.9% in the same reference period. The limitation of physical movements is driving consumers to look for new ways to connect – and your brand needs to adapt to this change in behaviour to remain relevant.
Tap into technology
Digital customers have become accustomed to a certain level of personalisation and ease of use so it’s important for your efforts to meet these expectations. Marketing technology (MarTech) is your most powerful tool in creating meaningful CX. MarTech brings together the efforts of your multidisciplinary teams to create high-impact interactions with measurable results that feed information directly back into your CX pipeline for continuous improvement. It allows you to enhance your efforts by automating the most important parts of your customer journeys.
Advanced technology such as AI, machine learning, automation and data science provides you and your teams with a greater means to achieve your revenue targets successfully. These technologies reveal insights that help you to predict customer behaviour and enhance targeting and personalisation to make more informed customer-centric business decisions.
Proactively engage with customers
The better you understand your customers’ needs, the easier it will be to know and even pre-empt what they expect from you. Reach out to them first and ensure that every single interaction adds value to their experience with your brand. Every message and point of contact needs to be well-informed and aligned with your knowledge of your customers, their buying stages and preferences. Use all the digital channels at your disposal and tap into the insights of your MarTech to help structure your messaging.
Remember that your most impactful interaction might not be in the buying stage. Many of us make a quick one-time purchase without considering brand loyalty. You have to focus on nurturing the relationship past the buying stage and delight with your customer service. How you handle and address queries can often be the pinnacle of your customer experience.
Good CX travels fast, but bad CX spreads like wildfire and causes irreparable reputational damage along the way. Happy, loyal customers are good for your bottom line as they are more open to upsell opportunities and will do much of your marketing and selling for you through word of mouth. According to a Zendesk survey, 95% of customers share a bad experience, while 87% are likely to share a good experience. It also found that 88% of respondents used customer service reviews to make their buying decisions.
Your CX should be a full-circle journey. To achieve this, you have to eliminate the silos that exist in your business. Customers should expect seamless interactions across your digital channels, departments and communications. But not every business functions like this. Companies tend to focus on individual interactions and are dedicated to billing, onboarding and service calls instead of an end-to-end customer journey.
You can make a start by simplifying your internal processes and integrating insights gathered from your MarTech to change how you deploy customer initiatives across your business. Marketing automation integrates your email marketing, social media scheduling and ads into one while breaking down the barriers between sales, marketing and customer service.
Customers are willing to help brands with this. An Adweek study found that 75% of consumers are keen to create and manage their own “style profiles” that brands could use to improve experiences and make product recommendations. The harder you try to see the world from your customer’s perspective, the better equipped you are to organise and mobilise your teams to meet their needs.
Ingrain and incentivise your CX
It’s only possible to create a cohesive brand experience if every customer touchpoint communicates the same message. All key role players across your business need to be aligned to what your digital customer experience looks like to achieve this. You’ll have to do some legwork to get buy-in and input from your executive team. Once the management team is on the same page, set objectives and CX success metrics for each department. It’s important to communicate progress and to ensure that your expectations are clear and well understood.
Your biggest responsibility is to break down the walls between departments and ensure that their CX strategy is ingrained in the company culture. Everyone in the business needs to speak with one voice – from customer-facing staff to technical personnel.
There is a definite link between customer experience and employee experience. Happy, positive employees make for happy, positive customers. It’s important to maintain this cycle by encouraging employees, and even incentivising them, to embody the company’s brand promise. Leaders of customer-centred brands get involved at every level of the business to reinforce this message.
Get the basics right
It’s important to get the basics right and to then focus on delighting your customers. CX leaders execute the basics flawlessly and minimise their customers’ biggest frustrations before looking to achieve excellence. When you make nurturing the relationship with your customers your central philosophy, all the technical elements will fall into place and everyone will walk away feeling good about the relationship.
Make peace with the fact that your customer experience strategy is never done and probably needs more attention than your other digital tactics. Don’t be discouraged by your failures, learn from them and move on to the next step. Delivering a great customer experience is a never-ending journey, but the rewards are definitely worth it.
We get customer experience
League has a thorough understanding of digital customers and we apply this knowledge to build brands that customers love. Our data-driven approach to customer experience combines innovative technology and proven methodologies to create impactful experiences at every customer touchpoint.