We've all heard that Big Data, content marketing, mobile, or social are "the future of marketing," but it's really the combination of all four that helps retailers make great experiences for customers.
Customer experience is the now and future king of marketing—the connection between a positive worker experience and customer experience. That company-customer relationship is made possible by many facets of marketing.
Moreover, when you empower employees with the tools, technologies, and processes to better serve customers, you champion a more successful experience for both employees and customers.
Personalization will put your company ahead of the pack
Customers associate companies with experiences, both good and bad. For example, if your Amazon Prime Now delivery driver shows up at the beginning of the delivery window, you're thrilled with Amazon as a retailer—not just the driver, not just the same-day delivery of the complete "I Love Lucy" collection on DVD.
Likewise, if a dinner for four that you order through GrubHub shows up ice-cold and GrubHub's customer service rep can't get hold of the restaurant to immediately send out piping-hot food, you don't just blame restaurant; you also blame GrubHub.
We live in a digital world where customers want things fast—five minutes ago fast. Customers want to be able to track deliveries up to the moment and get customer support from their phone, laptop, tablet, etc. And the reality is that modern businesses have the capabilities to deliver this kind of on-demand service. But does yours?
In addition to near instant gratification, there's another important piece of the greater customer experience businesses often miss… Customers want an experience that transcends the traditional company-customer relationship. A decent one-time transaction doesn't cut it; customers want a personalized experience every step of the way.
Much like in a most other relationships, customers want recognition from a business they've transacted with in the past.
A mutual relationship benefits both company and customer, with knowledge about the customer at the center of every interaction. Customers won't stick with companies that don't make an effort to know them, and that involves collecting more insightful customer data and making it accessible to everyone in your company.
Every interaction should be driven by data
All that requires developing a deeper relationship between retailer and customer. Customers believe that they have a relationship with your company once they've purchased something or engaged with you. With all the data your company collects when it interacts with customers (such as opt-in emails and promotional in-store coupon codes), your customers believe that the data will be used to more personally and efficiently interact with them. But most customer data isn't used to its full potential. Or worse, it's kept in silos.
And if customer data is collected but doesn't appear to be used to connect with customers (e.g., to immediately conjure up their address and last order), customers tend to feel exploited. All that personal data, from the customer perspective, should be used to better understand customers and facilitate personalized recommendations and interactions.
Customers also expect retailers they've interacted with before to be able to problem-solve and put their needs first.
Make every employee responsible for delivering a great customer experience
The days of frustrated phone transfers to multiple customer service reps should be long gone.
Unfortunately, for many businesses (and disgruntled customers), those days are not—even though we have apps that track packages up to the minute, and third-party grocery shoppers that can text us when a certain brand of potato chip is out of stock and even seek a preprogrammed substitution on our behalf.
This experience isn't science fiction; it's technology and the backbone of a consistent, positive customer experience. It keeps customers in the foreground and improves customer retention.
In today's connected world, the penalty for a poor customer experience is no longer a string of swear words on the phone to a customer service rep. We have the Internet, a modern court of public opinion. Customers who've had a bad experience with a business don't only tell their closest friends about a faulty product or flawed delivery; they take to social media to publicly flog a company for its wrongdoings.
If businesses don't provide easy-to-use self-service to their customers (e.g., live chat or a customer community portal) or if the reps at their call centers can't access information that customers input online minutes earlier, brands will lose out to companies that invest in those customer-centric capabilities.
A winning customer experience tasks every member of your workforce with optimizing and improving the customer journey at every touchpoint. It takes everyone in your organization—data analysts, strategists, content marketers, customer service reps—to champion a transformative customer experience.
Customer experience isn't the responsibility of only one one team. Everyone in your organization must be tasked with making sure every interaction with a customer is satisfying.
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