Customer expectations are high, and growing! To provide a differentiating customer experience, you must exceed, or at least meet expectations. Survey data indicates many brands are now focusing on the customer experience.
Reaching mobile consumers requires a whole new mindset; brands are increasingly relying on customer-centric strategies and tactics. They are creating personas and journey maps to better understand the ever-changing needs and desires of consumers.
Customer-centricity is all about relationships. Relationships are not static, they are complex and they evolve. While loyalty isn’t a new strategy, retaining customers requires constant effort, but it’s worth it. In fact, a 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Bain & Co)
According to Walker Inc.’s Customer’s 2020 report, “customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator.”
Reaching and engaging connected consumers is more challenging than ever. Marketers are having to rethink the traditional sales funnel approach, recognizing that consumers are on a journey that is often nonlinear. Here are 5 steps to creating a differentiating customer experience.
To meet or exceed a customer’s expectations, I believe businesses must pay attention to 3 key areas. I’ve identified these and provided some stats reflecting consumer expectations for each of these. I’ll also offer a few tips.
Personal and Relevant
74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized [Infosys]
63% of respondents are highly annoyed by the way brands continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic ad messages repeatedly [Marketo]
63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant [Rapt Media]
59% of customers say that personalization influences their shopping decision [Infosys]
77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience [Forrester]
Over 78% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand [Marketo]
There is more data and information than we’ve ever had. We are bombarded with unwelcomed and annoying messages. Whether it’s email, phone calls, texts or flyers stuffed in our mailboxes, we are overwhelmed by noise.
Here are a few tips:
Only collect the data you intend to use.
Don’t ask customers questions you already have, or should have, the answers to.
If you don’t have buying personae then create them. Here is an example of using buyer mindsets.
Design experiences that are tailored to segments or personas.
Most marketers are proficient at collecting data about consumers, make sure you are talking to consumers.
Feedback is necessary, however, be sure to study their pre and post buying behaviors.
Appropriately leverage past buying behavior to personalize the experience.
33% of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick but ineffective response. (Nielsen-McKinsey)
75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. (Harris Interactive)
55% of customer requests for service on social media are not acknowledged. (Huffington Post)
50% of the time, customer service agents failed to answer their questions according to customers (Harris Interactive)
66% of B2B and 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction. (Zendesk)
67% of customer churn is preventable if the customer issue was resolved at the first engagement. (Huffington Post)
70% of customers whose issues were resolved in their favor say they would return to purchase from that company again (Glance)
82% say that getting their issue resolved quickly is the number 1 factor to a great customer experience. (LivePerson)
72% blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people. (Zendesk)
A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related. (Bain & Co.)
Consumers prefer assistance over the following channels: Phone (61%), email (60%), Live Chat (57%), online knowledge base (51%), “click-to-call” support automation (34%). (eConsultancy)
Companies should ensure that customers are able to find answers to their questions using an assortment of self-service options, as 50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves and 70% expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.(zendesk)
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, silence is never golden. Even ineffective responses are preferred to no response at all. Obviously, the goal should be prompt and effective responses. These days most customers simply will not tolerate the silent treatment.
Here are some tips:
Make sure your customers have multiple alternatives for contacting your brand.
Don’t neglect self-service options like FAQ’s for example. Studies show that many expect to be able to find their own answers if they have that opportunity.
Establish and enforce standards for replying to customer inquiries. While these will be different for each company, be sure these are comprehensive.
Involve and empower front line employees so they can quickly handle inquiries efficiently and effectively.
Collect customer feedback allowing them to evaluate their experience.
Monitor all social communications channels and establish response protocols.
According to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. The survey finds that roughly 8-in-10 Americans are now online shoppers: 79% have made an online purchase of any type, while 51% have bought something using a cellphone and 15% have made purchases by following a link from social media sites.
50% expect stored profile information across all channels for easy access. (invesp)
57% want the ability to buy or reserve a product online via a smartphone and pick up in-store (invesp)
Overall, 64% of Americans indicate that, all things being equal, they prefer buying from physical stores to buying online. Wow Marketing
Nearly six-in-ten Americans (59%) say that they have used their cellphones to call or text someone while inside a store to discuss purchases they are thinking of making. Just under half (45%) have used their phones while inside a store to look up online reviews or to try and find a better price online for something they are thinking of purchasing. And a relatively small share of Americans (12%) have used their cellphones to physically pay for in-store purchases.
Aberdeen Group Inc. claims that companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.
We can no longer afford to think of channels as mutually exclusive, equally important, Innovations in one industry can have an impact on all others. For example, when a major coffee chain began experimenting with mobile ordering other quick service restaurants quickly followed suit.
Customers nowadays expect that they will have a strong voice in how you are communicating with them, through what channels, whether it be via phone, email or app, and when. The new marketing landscape is more like an ecosystem, so innovations play an important role in shaping customer expectations.
Here are some tips:
Continually audit your own mobile experience, what’s it like?
If you have an offline presence make it easier for customers to access information.
It’s not enough to have a mobile responsive site, make sure the site is functional.
Map all your touch points can consumers quickly and easily navigate between these touchpoints? If not find ways to make this seamless.
Are your customers able to access their information across all channels?
Map your customer’s buying process. Are there opportunities to save time by pre-ordering? What about pre-filling forms with information you already have? Explore other ways to make it easier to do business with your company.
Your employees are essential to the customer experience process, here are some suggestions for creating employee advocates.
The Customer Experience Journey
If you have already created personae, mapped touchpoints and connected with your customers, congratulations. But, this is only the first step. As I said earlier, consumers are connected, often thriving, in this new rapidly changing ecosystem. Competitors are innovating, new business models are emerging and technology is constantly shaping their experience.
Engaging and staying engaged with your customers takes a lot of effort and coordination. The stakes are high, as you can see in the aforementioned data, customers will quickly leave if their expectations are not met.
These tips are just a few suggestions to help you think about ways you can tailor your customer’s experience based on the context of your industry.
If you haven’t started on the journey, there is no time like the present.
What are other ideas you have?