How to build breakthrough customer experiences
3 years ago, in 2017 Gartner conducted a marketing survey which noted that 81% of marketers expected to be competing mostly, or completely, on customer experience (CX).
In our article ‘The importance of customer loyalty and meeting customer expectations’ we explored how instantaneous data driven interactions aimed at creating personalised experiences were important to winning a customer’s business.
The theme of meeting customer expectations through improved experience is something we can not ignore as managers, marketers and business owners. COVID-19 has accelerated the focus and development of digital customer experience across the world and throughout all industries. This includes industries that were not traditionally dependent on digital experiences such as groceries, manufacturing and transportation.
The disruption has enabled us to test our businesses ability to adapt to customer needs in a responsive and timely manner. The pandemic has acted as an opportunity and catalyst for both innovation and change.
What do we need to do to stay on top of our competitors and connected with our customers?
Customer experience is now the key differentiator in building loyalty and brand advocacy. There was a time, not so long ago, when brand stories were told in 30 second ads. Nowadays, customers don’t want to be told. Instead, they want to experience. It is these digital and omnichannel interactions that now determine a customer’s perceived value of the brand, not the stories brands tell to their audience.
In a connected world, where customers can interact with brands through multiple channels, we see that consumers can no longer decouple their experience. They do not differentiate their experience with the product (using/consuming the product) from their experience with the service (engaging with the brand to acquire/return the product). This means that the brand has become the experience and the experience has become the brand.
In the digital world, we are competing for a person’s attention in an environment that is less static and controllable than the physical environment, such as a store. In a physical environment, we can influence a person’s attention through the ambience of their surroundings and thus help to influence an immersive and positive buying experience. However, in the digital world when it comes to creating customer experiences, we risk distraction and digital sameness. This means if we are to stand out as a brand, we need to focus on differentiating our customer experiences from the competition. We need to build breakthrough digital experiences that meet customer expectations and build deeper connections.
So how do we build breakthrough experiences?
As business owners, product managers and marketing leaders we need to be able to create personalised experiences at scale. However, breakthrough customer experiences can not be achieved without well integrated teams and systems that enable a single customer view. So how do we create a single customer view and make customer experiences highly personalised in a scalable format? By powering up and integrating our CRM and Marketing Cloud Technology.
When set up for success, CRMs are the most powerful tool an organisation has when it comes to enabling breakthrough customer experiences. In its most basic form, CRMs collect, store and organise customer data. However, once integrated with two-way API connections that feed data between other systems (such as POS systems, Marketing Technology and more) the CRM tool becomes a powerhouse that enables us to see how a customer interacts with the business through multiple domains. Where it becomes really valuable is when it feeds this data into a marketing platform so that marketers are able to build intelligence into their customer engagement strategy.
Brands need to establish empathetic relationships. They need to show they understand their customers and personalise those conversations to build deeper connections. With data feeds to the CRM coming from different interaction points being pushed into marketing platforms, we are able to begin designing bespoke customer journeys using highly personalised content based on past and current interactions. Once we understand our customers we can serve relevant content that nurtures a relationship with the customer. Further to this we can also feed the content interactions back to the CRM, keeping other areas of the business informed and creating an omnichannel experience by ensuring everyone knows the next best conversation with the customer.
While technology play a key role in enabling successful digital customer experiences, it’s only the starting point. Data and insights from all customer touch points are the key to building breakthrough customer experiences. Once we have highly integrated systems and teams, we need to use and model the data to ensure we use it both ethically and in a way that provides value to our customers.