Brand building, storytelling, and strategy are all integral to building a successful foundation for your business but a customer’s experience with your brand will determine if they purchase from you, refer others or give you repeat business. It’s time to understand the connection between business growth, customer experience, and where the future of customer experience is headed.
Why is customer experience so important to your brand?
In today’s marketplace, customers are overwhelmed with choices, so it’s no longer good enough for your business to just rely on competitive pricing or unique selling points – consumers expect a positive and memorable experience before, during and after their purchase. You need to build positive and memorable customer relationships.
If we asked one of your customers about a recent purchase from you, they would be more likely to describe their experience with your brand, than the product or price. *In fact, more than 85% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience. Subsequently, more than 85% of consumers who receive a poor customer experience, will give their business to your competitor and most are likely to vent about their poor experience to others.
Be assured; customer satisfaction and loyalty are influenced by consumer emotions and the experiences they have with your brand.
Happy customers. Repeat business. More profit.
Therefore, an intentional approach to experience design is imperative.
How do you create a great customer experience?
Make sure that anyone associated with your brand from front line staff to external vendors, understands your brand vision, beliefs, characters, and values (a brand guide is a great internal tool). It’s amazing what brand clarity can do for your business both internally and externally.
Communicate to your leadership team, that customer experience is a top priority.
Provide staff training and keep your staff happy. They are the face of your business and often provide the very first impression of your business to consumers. Happy employees = happy customers.
Monitor and measure progress to ensure that the right brand experience is being delivered consistently before, during and after purchase to every customer. Survey both your customers and employees and then adapt the customer experience as required.
Listen to customers’ problems sincerely. After identifying their problems, address the negative experience immediately as best you can.
Know your customer and understand their pain points. Personalize their shopping experience any way that you can. Make them feel special and unique.
Make it very easy for customers to engage with your brand. Today’s brand interactions can extend across multiple touchpoints like websites, online forms, live chat, newsletters, retail stores, social media platforms and more. And don’t take a lazy “field of dreams” approach where you wait for customers to find you. Actively implement intelligent content marketing campaigns that will generate new leads as well.
Think of a brand experience that helps, engages or presents options to existing and new customers as opposed to just selling a product or offering special pricing. Then, make sure that your online experience matches the brick and mortar experience that you’ve created for your customers.
Create an emotional connection (storytelling video is an awesome tool to humanize your brand online). Oh, and customers notice small details. Any detail that makes your customer feel proud to do business with you, adds positivity to their experience with your brand and increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Get started with a brand strategy that defines a clear actionable plan for your team to consistently deliver a positive, meaningful experience across all touchpoints.
How do you know whether your customers are getting a perfect experience?
It’s impossible to please everyone 100% of the time, but if you have customers who rave about your products or services, or send you referral business, or continue to do business with you then you’re doing a great job. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Businesses who listen to constructive feedback and strive to make changes for the good of their business, are more likely to experience growth than those who don’t.
Where is the future of customer experience headed?
Fast or Instant. Convenient. Higher customer expectations. More technology.
While the old retail models focused on selling products by volume, the newer more successful model is to create long term relationships where you sell an initial product and then provide valuable follow up or add-on services based on what your customer may need post purchase.
The key to forming and delivering this more modern Customer Experience is by providing the same brand values to your loyal consumers they have come to love and expect, while further enhancing their future brand experiences with new and/or improved elements. So you should think about what you can do to keep customers engaged and coming back.
We’re already seeing large brands build on a modern experience model. For example, companies like Netflix, Shaw, Telus and Sage have incorporated the “convenience” factor into their customer experience. They could see that consumer expectations and lifestyles are changing as technology evolves. Now, instead of people driving to a video store to get a movie, they can search online from the comfort of their home and watch it immediately. The same goes for accounting software. You can purchase a license online, install it to your desktop (or set it up in the cloud) without ever having left your desk! And you can use it from anywhere, at anytime. And when it’s time to update, or you need more features, you can purchase a subscription. They are anticipating consumer needs (it’s good to have happy clients!), making it easy to use their product, and creating ongoing revenue generation while offering convenience to their customers. It’s WIN! WIN! WIN!
Augmented reality is another approach we are starting to see in response to the new customer experience model.
An Augmented reality experience can be combined with print to create a unique and memorable brand interaction for consumers. For instance, consumers can download a FREE app to their smart phone and scan a code from printed marketing material. The scan may be set up to show them video, allow them to click through to a website, and/or click through to various social media profiles. It could also have a clickable link through to a downloadable PDF. In this way, one simple piece of printed material can become very powerful. Scannable AR codes could be used on kiosks, posters, and/or in-store at checkout desks. Where the old QR Codes were static and could only open one asset to a consumer’s mobile phone, the AR experience allows multiple actions including 360 video and 3D modeling. But, if you decide to try new technology and offer consumers an Augmented Reality experience, don’t just do it for fun – set it up to serve a purpose. It should somehow make the customer’s life easier or better in some way. If you provide a good and fulfilling experience to your customers, they will talk about it with others and share their positive experience with your brand.
So how should you get started delivering better customer experience?
You need to analyze your current brand touchpoints and collect helpful data. Without data, you’ll just be guessing what it is that will appeal to your customers and that they will like it. Don’t make any major investment or changes, until you have clarity around strategy, what is working and what isn’t and what your next steps should be. Measuring progress of any marketing programs is important. If you are uncertain about how to measure past and current efforts, it may be time to involve an external agency like Original Ginger to do a proper and objective overall brand assessment. Don’t be a brand who has to catch up. Know where the future of your customer experience lies and be a brand who sets the bar higher for everyone else.
*References: Oracle 2016 Customer Experience Impact Report