How do you turn a one-time customer into a loyal brand advocate? What's the difference between a consumer who buys a plane ticket from whichever airline is running a deal that day and the one who always flies, for example, with JetBlue? Why should brands pay attention to how customer experience leaders like Apple and Netflix communicate with their users?
The answer to all these questions comes down to one number: 5.7.
Customer experience (CX) leaders are generating, on average, 5.7 times more revenue than companies that fail to prioritize these efforts, according to Forrester. "Superior CX drives superior revenue growth in industries where customers are free to switch business and competitors deliver a differentiated customer experience," Forrester states.
Brands become CX leaders by personalizing engagement in a relevant, valuable, and entertaining way. Here are four guideposts for getting your customer experience right.
1. Help customers achieve their goals rather than simply buy your products
Personalization should serve a purpose for your customers other than just making a positive impact when the customer opens the app or other platform or touchpoint. The data you're collecting about your customers should help you learn what they want to accomplish and why, as well as what they're doing in the moment and which next action makes the most sense for each person.
Those personalization efforts might start with segmenting at the group level, but to achieve the best customer experiences brands need to whittle down their communications to a one-on-one level. Those birthday and friend-anniversary videos on Facebook, for example, hit a lot of the right notes on personalization: They're tailored to the individual viewer, they're relevant, and they're generally entertaining.
But once you've seen one, you've seen them all. The social network could push the usefulness factor of these videos by also including updates from friends or pages recipients follow, thus creating a more action-driven experience.
2. Engage with customers emotionally
Too often, marketers say "customer experience" when what they're really talking about is "user interface." An experience has an emotional factor and is built on perception; an interface does not. Emotion is a critical part of building the kind of relationship with consumers that spurs them to say things like, "I buy [the product you make] only from [your brand name here]."
Among various mediums, personalized video helps brands tap into the emotional ties with their customers. As the most compelling storytelling medium, video combines sight, sound, and motion to captivate viewers. When videos are personalized for the individual recipient, they can spark excitement, nostalgia, and a host of other emotions that ultimately lead to purchasing decisions.
Atlantis Paradise Island, for example, used video to reach guests, before they arrived at the resort, by embedding each individual guest's itinerary into personalized videos. This sort of personalization sparks anticipation, as well as add-on activity purchases.
3. Give customers what they need and want, the moment it matters
Forrester reports that almost three-quarters of consumers say the No. 1 thing a company can do to provide a good experience is to respect their time. Amazon has certainly made the most of this CX tenet, with its Echo Dot for reorders at the touch of a button, and Lockers for order pickup. The company uses customer data to better understand what its customers want and need the moment they want it.
The practices of digital-first companies like Amazon can teach other brands best-practices for CX-driven communication. Namely, the experience on digital and off, when applicable, should be equally superior.
Hilton is one company getting it right: When guests opt for a digital channel for check-in rather than the traditional human-assisted one, they get an intuitive, personalized process that walks them through a digital floor plan and lets them pick their rooms from a computer or mobile device.
4. Provide customers with the next best action to influence their behavior
The most effective personalization efforts harness data to influence customer behavior in a way that benefits the customer and the business. By humanizing engagement, brands can blend their data-driven marketing with good service to create exceptional, personalized customer experiences.
Brands reflect a spectrum of understanding vis-à-vis customer engagement—why it matters and how to do it well. While some companies are still at Step 1, trying to personalize the simplest content on their websites, others have learned that sophisticated personalization strategies can be used to create the customer experiences that drive customer loyalty. And loyalty is such a clear driver of value for companies, that it's worth marketers' time to evolve their practices.