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Welcome to the age of the Customer Experience (CX)

Back when I started in marketing, we were experiencing what I like to call the fluffy age. Marketing was all about branding filled with trendy colours, feelings and it was brimming with creativity. Those were exciting times where ideas ruled and people were encouraged to prototype – try new things out and fail fast.

Throughout the years I’ve noticed a shift in our approach to marketing. Businesses place more value on measuring ROI and being customer-centric rather than fluffy marketing campaigns. And as marketing evolves across the digital landscape, the Customer Experience, or CX, is the buzzword on everyone’s lips.

CX is the sum of all of the coordinated interactions between a customer and a brand to accomplish a goal. Every touchpoint the customer has influences their overall experience – from the first visit to your website to the time of the sale to the email communications afterwards. Researching a product online, using a mobile app to find a store’s nearest location, searching for tech support information on a smartphone—these all contribute how a customer feels about a brand over time.

CX should be a priority for every business wanting to secure a stable future because it drives growth and revenue.

Not only will it keep customers choosing your brand again and again, it can drive customers to switch to you over the competition if they know the experience will be better. The majority of consumers will put their money where their mouth is and pay premium rates for better experience.

Say you enter a store, let’s pretend it’s JB HiFi, what happens? Chances are you’re greeted by an employee who offers to guide you towards what you need. The good ones will try to get to know you and understand what you’re looking for so they can provide better help. Once you’ve found the right product, they will make it as easy as possible for you to make the purchase by carrying the item and leading you to the cash registers.

There’s a lot of factors that contribute to the overall experience – not just your interaction with a team member – including how other customers are behaving, whether there are any other customers at all, the shop or business’ environment (location, temperature, lighting, ambient noise, music) and more. But it’s that personalised and individual experience that ultimately determines your overall satisfaction and, if they’ve played their cards right, hopefully they’ve earned your return business too.

Great CX takes people beyond a one-off transaction and turns them into loyal customers.

Let’s take a moment to look at the cost of acquiring new customers. Did you know it can cost up to 7x more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one? Winning new customers is a great business goal, but smart businesses are beginning to understand the need to plug the holes in their boats first.

CX heavily impacts whether potential customers take action and if they don’t, we usually don’t get to hear how we got it wrong. Research shows that two-thirds of customers who churn chose to leave because of a bad experience and the majority of the time it was preventable. So before you think about your next big acquisition campaign, make sure your CX is as good as it can be right now.

In the digital world, your competition (and a lost sale) is only a click away.

Have you created an environment that keeps your customers’ attention and meets their needs? Or are you giving them cause for frustration and distraction leading to a negative impression of your brand? Customer expectations are climbing as the competitive landscape is getting more aggressive. If we’re running low on brand new customers in our industry, then we have no choice but to steal them from our competitors.

Customers appreciate businesses who understand their needs and provide the relevant content to help them make accurate decisions. This quality of service is focused around an omnichannel delivery, considering the bigger picture to identify customer requirements.

According to Deloitte, 62% of companies currently view customer experience as a competitive differentiator.

We live in a digital economy where a strong customer experience has been shown to produce significant results—more customers, more sales, and more loyalty—many companies still struggle to identify the plan of action that will best achieve them. There’s a lot of research out there that links the digital experience to core business outcomes. Poor digital experiences can translate to loss of customer loyalty and advocacy, two key metrics which impact on top-line revenue. Of those consumers delighted with their digital experience, almost three quarters said they would remain loyal.

Creating a one-to-one experience with each customer digitally is pretty hard to achieve compared to an in-person model. For most businesses, it’s not going to make financial sense to staff the company with a fleet of service agents to continue that one-to-one relationship and analyse each customer individually. So the responsibility lies with marketers to create a customer experience that delights customers while also providing them with relevant information when they need it to help them make informed decisions. So how do we do this?

By the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator according to a Walker study.

The popularity of online purchase behaviour and the rise of the new digital economy has significantly changed buyer behaviours. In many cases, our digital interaction is now the only interaction that a brand may have with their customers, especially when we’re talking about a B2C environment. Even in the B2B world, savvier consumers are engaging in more independent research which pushes out the moment where they require that human to human connection.

So for marketers, the big question is how do we invest in making a good CX? How do we remain competitive in the new digital economy? The intersection between technology and creativity is where the magic happens. It takes a lot of heavy lifting to figure out how to deliver an individual brand experience to each customer. We marketers are pretty darn smart but we also need to be realistic about what’s possible and what’s not.

Experts say staying competitive in the new digital economy means understanding how to deliver a delightful, personalised omnichannel customer journey. So take the time to map out your customer journey touchpoints and make sure you have powerful marketing software to help you provide the best customer experience you can.

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