With the ability to compare seemingly interchangeable products at the click of a button, consumers now have more information than ever before.
As a result of this, seamless and delightful customer experiences are becoming crucial aspects for maintaining good brand management.
That said, only 3% of executives believe that they offer excellent customer experiences. This is concerning, as a fragmented brand experience results in increased customer effort, frustration and ultimately lost opportunities for the business.
With 95% of customers willing to repurchase, and 88% of customers willing to increase spend as a result of low-effort interactions, the business case is strong for a seamless digital brand experience.
First of all, what is customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a consumer has with your brand. This encompasses every touchpoint, from:
- Web presence
- Website design and usability
- In-store digital devices
- Social media
The term CX is often used interchangeably with user experience (UX), which is the experience consumers have using a single process – whether it be a specific product, website or service. The waters between CX and UX are further muddied because user experience is a subset of customer experience. If a user has a poor experience with a particular process, for instance, a complicated checkout service, this impacts the overall customer experience.
As such, every element that contributes to a customer’s experience must work cohesively for the experience to be received positively. This will foster brand loyalty, customer advocacy and generate referrals.
How can marketers incorporate customer experience into their digital strategy?
Digital customer experience is a multi-faceted beast, but it all comes down to one premise; engage and delight customers. Many marketers jump into CX headfirst and lose sight of the big picture. To see the wood from the trees, it is best to follow a three step process:
- Understand your personas and their current experience
- Create your experience
- Measure the ROI
Step 1: Know your customer and collect and analyse data
To deliver a great customer experience in your digital environment you must determine what your customers want, and what their current experiences are. This information will guide your strategy all the way down to implementation.
The first step is to understand your personas. Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer, and they’re essential to your customer experience strategy. Understanding a persona’s goals, interests, motivations and challenges will give you a clear picture of what you need to provide in order to deliver a great customer experience. If your business doesn’t have personas these need to be created quick-smart, but don’t worry - the process is easier than you think.
Once you’ve developed a clear understanding of your core personas, map out your current persona’s journey. This will help you understand your customer’s current forms of engagement and how well you’re delivering the experience they want.
This means effectively collecting and analysing your customer data. Easier said than done? We think so. Only 16% of executives say they are effective at data collection. A diverse range of customer data – from browsing history, spending history, demographic information to Facebook “likes” and interests – is going uncollected.
Sounds like an opportunity to us!
So where to start? Try to understand how customers are interacting with your brand. What does the customer journey look like? Are there any drop-off points - for instance are you losing people at checkout or registration? What type of content are customers engaging with and what types of content are they not?
Understanding your persona’s responses to the experience you’re providing through analysis will help you improve the experience in that area, and ultimately to get real-time feedback as to whether your efforts have worked.
Step 2: Create experiences that engage and delight
Once you understand what your customers are after, and what needs to improved, it’s time to build the customer experience. Remember, decision making is inherently driven by emotion; in fact, more than 50% of a customer’s experience is based on it. Focus on supplementing the brand-customer relationship with experiences that resonate emotionally. Some methods include:
- Consistent messaging: With the wealth of online options available to users, you want buyers to get to the heart of your offerings quickly. Consistent messaging will achieve this. Furthermore, it will also build familiarity and trust, which aligns customers with the brand.
- Relevant content: The provision of useful content will capture the interest of customers and help build relationships at each stage of the buyer's journey. Understanding and tracking your personas buyer stage is key here, as it will help you determine the content they need at the time they need it.
- Responsive, human-centred design across platforms: Utilise responsive design with your website so users have a consistent experience regardless of the device.
Then employ human-centred design principles to improve user-product interactions, that is, ensure platforms are designed to compliment human behaviour. Accordingly, every digital platform should put customer needs first, requiring the most minimal of efforts for users to perform their tasks - from email registration, customer service requests to checkout. Where there is effort required, good practice is to let the customer know exactly how much and how long it will take. For example, this could involve the inclusion of a progress bar during checkout so customers can gauge the effort required to complete the action. Whatever the scenario, features should work towards ease of use and managing expectations.
- Seamless customer service: This one is a no brainer - poor customer service is a major deterrent to consumers. On average less than 50% of customers are satisfied with service when they shift channels, and unfortunately this results in loyalty leakage.
You want quality to be matched across channels. This requires the implementation of an efficient process, as well as staff training via coaching and group sessions. It’s also important to ask for feedback after each customer interaction so you can determine a particular agent's effectiveness.
A digital contact centre solution will help you integrate your digital channels into your contact centre. This will provide a unified view of customer history and context, and will improve visibility of prior agent interactions. Now multi-channel contact centres are relatively new to the tech space so consultation with a third-party, such as Dimension Data, is required.
- Transparency: Breeds trust. Share whatever is needed to make a connection with your customer. If something isn’t working be honest. Share the fact and call for feedback. You should also communicate the brand’s motivation, the story so far and the vision and mission to build rapport with customers.
Step 3: Measure the ROI of customer experiences.
So you’ve researched and implemented the above - how can you tell it’s all working?
Ultimately it all comes down to a simple benchmark – the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The willingness of a customer to recommend your services to friends or family is a strong indicator of business growth as 65% of new business comes from customer referrals.
The good news is NPS is relatively easy to implement. Information can be collected through the question “would you recommend this company to a friend/family”. It’s important to understand why a customer has given a particular score so ask them why they’ve ranked you accordingly. That way you’re given actionable feedback to further improve the customer experience.