Consumers don’t think about brand interactions in terms of channels, journeys and lifecycles. All that really matters to them is that they find what they want, their needs are met and their goals are achieved — at the exact right moment, of course.
That’s a tall order for brands to fill. If they succeed, the returns are many: Highly engaged consumers spend 300% more with a brand each year. If they don’t, customers simply won’t return: 82% of consumers worldwide have stopped doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.
Customer Experience Is a Brand’s Point of Distinction
Marketing requires a new mindset that thinks customer first. No longer is marketing just about getting a sale. Today, marketing is about creating engaging, frictionless and complete experiences that don’t just meet customer needs but anticipate them.
Consider the airline that finds out a customer’s flight has been delayed and immediately sends her a text thanking her for her patience and offering her free Wi-Fi. Or the accessories brand that asks social followers to suggest ideas for its next jewelry line. Or the online retailer that sends a customer flowers and upgrades her to VIP membership after learning she is returning her shoe purchases due to medical issues. While no financial transaction is at stake, the benefits of being helpful, inclusive and compassionate are priceless.
Nearly 90% of executives in the Forbes Global top 500 companies believe improved customer experiences will be the key battleground over the coming years. And marketers certainly have their work cut out for them: While 81% of brands believe they truly understand their customers, only 37% of customers believe that’s true.
Marketing Must Deliver on a Brand’s Promise to Customers
To succeed in the year ahead, marketers will make the most of their first-party data to identify and relate to customers with immediacy and relevancy in any given context. They will think beyond campaigns and strategize customer-centric programs that align marketing, product and service. Most importantly, they will lead a data-driven culture change across the entire organization that puts the customer at the heart of business decisions.
Here are three things marketers can do to lead a customer-centric approach across the enterprise.
1. Define a cross-functional vision.
Document where and how each business function intersects with the buyer journey. Define ways each function could contribute to an improved customer experience.
2. Be empathetic.
Innovative experiences that aren’t really helpful or relevant may actually push buyers away. Look for ways to make each brand-customer interaction more friction-free and gratifying.
3. Deliver value.
New engagement strategies must improve the customer experience without being overwhelming. Draw customers in with a value exchange that is substantive, intuitive and timely.