Customer Experience Matters but how do you deliver it?

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

There are many reasons for this gap and the two key reasons in our opinion are that:
1) Brands don’t deliver the experience they promise in their marketing, and
2) In most firms no one owns the customer experience.

We think marketers must own the lived experiences of their customers; because what you are promising them is what they will evaluate you against. (They will also evaluate you against the last great experience they had but more on that later).

Marketing exists to deliver revenue and (hopefully) growth through customer acquisition and retention. It becomes easier to deliver this revenue if we have a loyal customer base who are repeat purchasers.

We believe experiences drive loyalty: deliver great experiences and customers will keep coming back; do it really well and they will promote you to their friends and family. In the age of TikTok and Instagram, word of mouth is king.

With so many social media, messaging and chat platforms, consumers are more connected and empowered than ever before to communicate more easily and frequently than ever before; with much of their time spent offering feedback on the brands they encounter and care about — signalling satisfaction, concerns, or friction — at every stage of the customer journey (aka your funnel).

Being able to deliver a consistent and connected CX across all channels is seen to be the nirvana of great experiences. Hence huge investments in technology to enable that. But great customer experience isn’t just about technology. Technology is just the enabler: one that helps to personalize experiences at speed and scale.

Great customer experience is about delivering painless interactions, speed of service, customer empathy, relevant information at the most appropriate moments, and doing it in a way that is consistent with your Brand and messaging.

So how do Brands close this gap. Here are 5 elements to consider as you move your marketing to be centred on your customer experience.

1. Keep up with your customers

This seems obvious but we find that most firms don’t get it right. They also overestimate how well they do this.

Consumer patience for poor customer service is evaporating fast. A third of Britons are willing to ditch companies after just one poor experience. A further 90% of customers will leave after 2–5 poor experiences. The sympathy and understanding given to Brands during Covid is disappearing. (Source SAS)

Today when more than 3.4 billion people are connected via modern channels — brands need to rethink how marketing is done: the way they listen to, learn from, and make their customers happier needs to constantly evolve. Marketing today is about what they say, not what you say.

Listen to your customers — regularly. Customer experience is not static. Customers change and their expectations change. These expectations are not just influenced by your competitors. They are influenced by everyone that the customer interacts with. You need to understand who your customers are, what their preferences are and then keep up with them. Listen, Learn and Keep Listening. At the very least, don’t ignore that free text on an NPS response!

2. Define your overall customer experience and then your Brand promise

Most Brands talk loudly about commitment to the customer and their values. But don’t quite seem to be able to deliver. Your customer’s experience is inseparable from your brand and is the only way your brand can attain lasting value and loyalty. When this doesn’t happen, it feels jarring for your customers and creates friction.

Consumers, exhausted by the impact of the pandemic, are increasingly craving simplicity and transparency with the aim of reducing their stress and effort. They are putting their money into Brands that help them fulfil a need in the simplest, most convenient possible way with the least amount of effort on their part.

Unsurprisingly brands that deliver these simple experiences outperform their competitors. In the World’s Simplest Brands study Google, Netflix, Lidl, YouTube and Aldi topped the global list. (In the UK the top 5 spots were taken by Google, Ikea, Amazon, giffgaff, and Netflix). Its easy to see why. Any consumer will be able to tell you what these brands do and what their customer offer is.

What is “simple” is different for each of these Brands. The key to success is to define what it means to your customers and then deliver an experience that matches that.

Brands gain an exceptional marketplace opportunity by simplifying their business models to focus on what matters most to their customers. Be simple: easy to understand and easy to interact with.

To align your brand promise to your customer experience, you need to carefully consider your business model and customer proposition. Then align your messages, actions/ experiences and products. Take Primark, they have no digital commerce capabilities but their business model and CX is simple: they provide affordable fast fashion and they actively tell their customers that they can do that because they don’t have the logistics costs associated with online shopping.

Make sure that you are aligning your brand promise to the customer experience you are intending to deliver.

3. Breakdown those silos

EY Tech Horizon research found that only 45% of respondents put the customer at the forefront of everything that they do. This is frequently due to silos that exist within most firms. Once you know the experience your Brand needs to deliver, the entire organization needs to work together to drive the delivery of that experience.

Marketing, sales, and customer service teams have a wealth of experience in their own disciplines but are often disconnected from each other. These silos show up as friction in the customer experience. These functions focus only on fulfilling their part of the funnel before passing the customer on to be someone else’s problem once a sale is made.

Winning experiences are centred around customers; not functions, not channels and not products. This means that all functions have an ongoing responsibility to support a continuous process of attracting and engaging customers with exceptional experiences (or at the very least, friction-less ones).

Companies have historically made heavy investments in channel solutions, trying to optimize specific KPIs; a cohesive strategy across all channels is rare. But the stronger an individual channel’s performance, the more difficult it can be to bring it into alignment and orchestrate a compelling cross-channel customer experience. The owners of those “high-performing” channels end up becoming power brokers, with a disproportionate percentage of marketing budget and influence.

A single decision authority is needed, or else all your customer touchpoints will collide, and the customer journey will become massively disjointed. Brands also need to embrace horizontal outcome-based teams (rather than task-based). The over-riding need is to anticipate and respond to customer needs at lightning speed.

4. Value the customer, not the transaction

It can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly chasing after monthly performance targets without regard for the bigger picture. When there is pressure to display growth month-on-month, teams make short term decisions that distract from building a longer-term view of customer success.

Although it may not seem as desirable as smashing through quarterly growth targets, focusing on customer lifetime value (CLV) as a metric for success will sow the seeds of longevity.

CLV assigns a financial value to each of your customers. This in and of itself is good but more importantly, CLV is unique in that it is a metric that looks forward, as opposed to a concept like NPS or customer profitability which measure past activities.

CLV enables Brands to measure the financial impact of their activities and align and ladder up to bigger financial targets in the organization. We have seen CLV change the way Brands think about customers resulting in the creation of loyalty objectives or focusing spend on underutilized areas.

We believe that CLV is a better measure because it helps Brands find balance in terms of short-term and long-term sales, marketing and service goals and demonstrates a better understanding of the ROI. And the bottom line? Effective management of your customers relationships, which leads to increased profitability — that’s perhaps the most obvious advantage of Customer Lifetime Value.

We’re not suggesting that you only focus on customer-centric KPIs and forgo company-centric ones — we’re simply suggesting you look through the customer lens at the total value of the customer. In fact, as customers are the key to growth, organisations who measure themselves against them are better positioned for growth than those that don’t.

5. Create a human bond — even in digital spaces

“I love that brand”
Magic words all Brands want to hear from their consumers. But do you love your customers back?

Customer loyalty is built by the Brands that take good care of them at every touchpoint, which is an opportunity to form a positive emotional attachment. In order to achieve that level of loyalty and engagement, Brands need to invest time in listening to and interacting with their customers on an authentic, human level.

It’s easy to deploy automation and AI tools but they need to be deployed in a way that enables human-experiences. Think about the last time you received a templated reply email or a “I don’t understand” option on an AI powered chat. It’s the most frustrating experience.

People crave the human touch. As a result, 40% of consumers prefer speaking to a real person on the phone. When it comes to more complex issues like complaints or disputes, 80% of consumers say that being able to get in touch with a live service agent over chat or voice call is extremely important. (Source: American Express)

Creating a bond requires building rapport with your customers. Again, technology helps you connect but it can’t create that bond. This doesn’t mean that you have a human at every touchpoint. It means that you need to empathize with your customers and create an experience that is deliberately designed to be human-centric.

Above all, remember that your customers are human beings who come to you to solve a problem or meet a need. If you want your customers to love you, you need to love them first.

One more thing…

There is no one customer experience. Not in your category, not in your industry, not in business at large. You need to establish what matters to your customers and then design your target experience accordingly. This is then needs to be translated into every aspect of your business. Customer experience is a fundamental belief system and way of working.

Final Thoughts

A move towards customer-centricity may seem daunting but over the long-term this focus pays off. Taking even one of the steps above can make a huge difference and begin to turn the dial towards customers within your organisation.

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Strategy & marketing fanatic with a love for new ideas & tech. Kiwi in London. Addicted to travelling. Views & opinions are my own.

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Shayna Manchanda

Shayna Manchanda

Strategy & marketing fanatic with a love for new ideas & tech. Kiwi in London. Addicted to travelling. Views & opinions are my own.

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