Modern customers have a very different relationship with their favorite brands than we’ve seen in the past. These relationships are much more social in nature and usually allow customers to interact with the company across many touch points through multiple channels, sometimes even simultaneously.1 However, in this process, many firms have adopted technology that has integrated various business functions that used to operate independently of one another. This has resulted in challenges for companies who wish to manage the experience and journey of each customer.2
To do this successfully, the full scope and importance of the customer experience must be understood. Businesses must consistently provide outstanding customer experiences to remain competitive. Companies that do so can expect to see a growth in revenue of 17% on average.3 More importantly, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more if they can also be sure of a great customer experience4 and it is also anticipated that by 2020, customer experience will be considered more important than price and product as the key brand differentiator.5 With this in mind, there are several key strategies you can implement that will help to improve your ability to deliver a stellar customer experience.
Know Your Customer
Knowing your customer is contingent upon developing a 360° view of their expectations. Part of this process is capturing the voice of your customer, which is the process of defining your customer's expectations, preferences, and comments about specific products and services. Using additional information that may come from customer data platforms (CDPs), big data, analytics, or through other resources can also help to fill in the missing pieces to create a holistic view of who your customer is and how to best target that customer based on individual needs, resources, and interests.
Despite the effectiveness of this approach, fewer than 10% of companies have a 360° customer view and only 5% use this view to grow their business.6 Those that do use this strategy effectively are generally rewarded for their efforts. One company that does this incredibly well is Netflix. They have been able to harness and leverage their technology to analyze the preferences of their customers and generate hyper-personalized recommendations.7 They have also worked to maintain a price point that is in line with what their customers are willing to pay. This success is reflected in their 34% revenue growth. The company also saw its stock increase by nearly 50% in 2017.8
Timing is Everything
Part of knowing your customer is also knowing when they need you; this is especially true in the age of instant gratification. The average customer today is bombarded with an astounding amount of marketing messages. However, if you are able to provide a relevant message at the right moment, it can cut through all of the other noise. Amazon is phenomenal at integrating moment marketing. Essentially, when you browse for items on their site, they are able to suggest similar items (based upon your preferences combined with other users' preferences when they hold similar interests). In this regard, the company has shown that customers don't hate all ads; they just don't want to see ones that aren't relevant to them.9
Novelty is Necessity
Technology is rapidly evolving, and several companies have already demonstrated that they clearly understand how to leverage these technologies in a way that creates novelty and allows them to offer something that their competitors are incapable of delivering. IKEA partnered with Apple to develop an augmented reality app that allows users to "see" what different furniture pieces look like in their own spaces. In doing so, they exceeded the expectations of most of their customers. They felt as if the retailer had succeeded in bringing an IKEA store directly into their own home, something that will give them an edge over their competitors.
Digital Must Solve Real Problems
While novelty can provide an edge over competitors, businesses must also solve any existing problem that creates a barrier to customers completing a purchase. To do this, you need to analyze their pain points and then assess which technologies can address these problems in a meaningful way. One of the best examples of a company that did this well is Adidas, who integrated an AI bot into Facebook Messenger to enhance customer engagement with their new workout facility, Studio LDN. By offering free weekly fitness sessions and the ability to sign up for a session with a chatbot, they have made working out easier for their customers, while also increasing brand engagement and loyalty.11
Digital Design Must be Frictionless
In today's market, consumers have more product choices than ever, but they don't have an overabundance of time. This has led to an incredibly low, arguably nonexistent, tolerance for challenges to their ability to complete their desired task. In addition to this, many consumers expect that the technologies they want during their buying process to be present and functioning—including the ability to conduct mobile searches to compare pricing or have a virtual assistant present to ask questions of when necessary. The entire process must go smoothly, from start to finish. The digital payment industry is one example of how this can lead to consumer satisfaction. As apps like Uber grew in popularity, consumers expected a better, easier to use method for completing digital payments.12 While this revolution was spearheaded by the consumers, the end result is a much more streamlined and secure digital payment process.
While these tips will go far in optimizing your customer experience and help you to meet their expectations, it's important to also factor in any other elements or concerns that may be unique to your business or industry that can also be improved. Taking a big-picture view of your customer experience, combining it with informed data, and getting real feedback from actual customers can help you to determine the best changes you can make to ensure your customers are getting a flawless experience.
- Lemon, K.N., Verhoef, P.C. (2016). Understanding customer experience throughout the customer journey. Journal of Marketing, 80(AMA/MSI Special Issue), 69-96.
- Edelman, D.C., & Singer, M. (2015). Competing on customer journeys. Harvard Business Review, 93(November), 88-100.
- Robles, P. (2016). Customer experience drives revenue growth, but marketers lack CX skills. Econsultancy.
- Kulbyte, T. (2019). 35 customer experience statistics you need to know for 2019. SuperOffice.
- Walker Customer Experience Consulting. (2017). Customers 2020: A progress report.
- Digital Marketing Institute. (2019). The what, why & How of the 360-degree customer view.
- Morgan, B. (2018). The 10-most customer-obsessed companies in 2018. Forbes.
- Forbes (Contributor). (2018). Netflix projects strong subscriber growth in Q4.
- Leslie, S.G. (2017). The right ad, just when you need it: Talking 'moment marketing' with Randy Wootton. Emotive Brand.
- Brown, N. (2017). How augmented reality is disrupting digital marketing right now. Content Standard.
- Quigley, A. (2017). 5 technologies that can help enhance customer experience. Digital Marketing Institute.
- Wright, B. (2016). Separating hype from reality as nearshore confronts 'frictionless digital experience.'