Gone are the days when price and product solely decided a customer’s loyalty to brands. Today, customers value the time spent together with a brand. If the experience is memorable, the brand is rewarded with increased business. Conversely, if the experience is mediocre and “taxing” for the customer, the brand may not have a great future.
Most marketers acknowledge that providing customers with a memorable brand experience and a frictionless journey is more important than product innovation or competitive product pricing. Almost 45 per cent of marketers agree that they need to have CX optimisation plans in place as compared to 20.5 per cent of marketers who believed they needed to focus on their product pricing and 33.6 per cent of marketers who believed they needed to focus on product optimisation.
Customers today are not opposed to loosening their purse strings for high-value products or cater to their overall well-being. But there is a condition — the overall experience should be “worth it”.
A PwC report tells us that almost 86 per cent of consumers do not mind paying a premium as long as they are treated well by the brand and are made to feel special. In fact, CX is quite the proverbial golden egg that ensures customers keep flocking to the brand for more while opening a regular revenue stream for the marketer. CX adds to the impulse buying mentality of consumers. Almost 49 per cent of consumers start trusting marketers and expect the product to be a good one after experiencing just one instance of personalised and quality CX.
Experience is everything
Why do marketers believe that CX is everything? Why do they dedicate their resources to find out what makes their customers tick? Has CX fundamentally altered marketing tenets? The answer to all the questions is a resounding yes. Although CX has managed to find a place under the spotlight, marketers’ product innovation and competitive pricing are still relevant. Consumers today are willing to give marketers another chance if the product does not meet expectations or has similar shortcomings. Consumers are not content with merely being a part of the transaction. They know their worth and expect marketers to do the same. Consumers want their choices to be respected by marketers in exchange for their support or loyalty to the brand.
What are the components to creating memorable experiences? A marketer or a brand has to provide convenience and relevance to the user (about the product). The sale has to be swift and not feel like a burden to them. It has to add value and follow through on promises consistently. Creating memorable experiences should not feel like a task for marketers. Marketers have to remember a very simple rule. Better CX translates to better brand value, better brand engagement and recall, better ROI, and helps acquire new customers whilst retaining older ones. Marketers cannot hope to only work to get CX right and hope all other problems are miraculously solved. CX quality improves when brands do the right thing consistently.
The journey to greatness always begins with self-discovery. Before transforming customer journeys, marketers often have to conduct a self-appraisal to identify their strengths and identify opportunities to learn from.
Getting started on the CX journey
CX as a term has grown in the last few years to encompass the product, right until the point where the customer’s journey ends — from awareness to consideration to purchase to service and loyalty.
What is the formula to deliver great CX? Can marketers ensure consistency in their customer journey? A simplified mathematical representation to obtain CX is:
Data Transformation + Digital Transformation = CX Transformation
Marketers who are just getting started on their CX journey would do well to keep the following tenets in mind.
- Consumers across the globe will not hesitate to pay a premium as long as their needs are taken care of and their wants are preempted by marketers. Consumers take value-added offerings very seriously and expect marketers to do their homework before pitching solutions.
- Consumers are not very generous with feedback. But when they do, they expect marketers to take them seriously and work on the suggestions provided.
- Consumers today are willing to forgive brands if they do not get their requirements right in the first attempt. But a bad CX that is replete with friction is a big no. Not only does it tarnish the reputation of the brand, but it also contributes to significant customer churn.
- Marketers need to have a CX and customer engagement plan ready all the time. How fast or how convenient a brand’s services contribute directly to the overall C-sat score. Marketers today cannot afford not to have a plan that puts the customer in the centre of the sales process.
- A seamless, non-obstructing synergy between technology and human resources is a must-have for every marketer today. Technology cannot be pitted against humans. It exists to make life easier. Using technology that is an ill-fit within the organisation will result in a very unhappy workforce and customer that is bound to leave a bitter aftertaste.
- Personalisation is key to survival for marketers. When brands personalise their offerings, it shows that they actually gave time to their consumers and made an effort to understand them and offer products and solutions that go beyond the ordinary.
Delivering quality CX isn’t similar to adopting technology to boost performance. CX leaders have to ensure that a healthy mix of tech and human element exists. Done right, technology can help companies create phenomenal customer experiences and reap lasting benefits. Did you know that 82 per cent of the top-performing companies say that they pay close attention to the human experience around digital and tech?
Who is responsible for CX?
The buzz around CX started getting louder from 2017 and has captured the attention of marketers across industries. What started as a value-addition exercise a couple of years ago has become one of the core KPIs determining a brand’s success. Gartner, in a report, says that over 50 per cent of enterprises worldwide will invest heavily in “CX departments”. No doubt, CX is essential for an organisation. But who in the organisation should head CX as a department? Where does the buck stop?
As a discipline, CX encompasses a little bit of every department in an organisation. However, the focus on CX falls around the same time as the customer journey commences. As a rule, most organisations put the onus of the four Ps (Product development, Pricing, Placement (Distribution) and Promotion) on the marketing team. Hence the responsibility is given to the CMO. Though Marketing is all about surprising and delighting existing and prospective customers alike, many other stakeholders are in the customer journey throughout an organisation. An organisation’s biggest mistake regarding CX is over-simplifying it and treating it like a business practice or as a campaign. But the truth is good CX can transform businesses and must be looked into by the top leadership team at regular intervals. CX requires every team member and every department to work in tandem and leave a positive impact on the customer’s mind.
An organisation with ambitions of acing CX needs to have a dedicated or cross-functional team that can set targets and evaluate performance. This team can comprise of Content Strategists, Sales experts, Customer service department head, UI/UX Designer and Product manager.
Getting started on the CX journey.
Marketers have to be attentive to every moment that the customer spends with them or their product through a nuanced usage of data, technology and analytics. Marketers are careful about the kind of interaction consumers have at various touchpoints. It gives marketers a wealth of information about their consumer. The only way to achieve it is through a customer-centric approach. Marketers aim to provide the best brand journey and personalised experience to customers. To attain that, marketers aim to create and preserve a single ‘golden’ record of their consumers. However, there are a few inherent challenges every marketer faces while doing so, including privacy regulations, the death of third-party cookies, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and the emergence of cloud platforms like Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and others. It’s important to note that marketers can make the entire personalisation process easier if they stick to using zero and first-party data.
Consumers expect marketers to study them, identify their needs, meet their expectations, plan, and deliver unique personal conversations.
When a brand inculcates data hygiene and changes how it collects and processes consumer data, it immediately strikes a chord with the consumers. Data transformation helps marketers personalise their bond with consumers while satisfying data protection and privacy laws. The next step towards delivering CX is digital transformation. Digital transformation occurs when the data collected by marketers is bolstered with technology and used to help customers.
Marketers are expected to embrace technology like AI, ML, cloud computing, social media interactions to help them understand consumers’ expectations. With the use of technology, marketers can eliminate technical and analytical challenges from data while ensuring a uniform degree of personalisation.
The right blend of data and technology can help in multiple ways. When marketers use technology to serve customers efficiently, they can build valuable insights about their customers and formulate better strategies and understand their customer better and secure the marketer-consumer relationship.
A synergy between customer data and technology helps marketers achieve the following goals.
- Audience-based planning
- Experience-based technologies
- Content and experience creation
- Connecting the experience through commerce
Challenges facing CX adoption in organisations
The biggest disparity exists between a customer’s expectations and the final product they receive. Good CX engages customers, allows them to voice their opinions and feedback and overall makes them feel valued. The problems begin to show when there is a disconnect in the experience itself. Experience disconnect manifests when there is a visible gap between what’s promised to customers instead of what is delivered. When businesses use technology to complement manpower, experience disconnect can be eliminated.
Another challenge that faces CX adoption is a lack of chances. An irate customer can cause more lasting damage than a natural disaster.
The future is a synergy between man and machine. Maintaining a fine balance will help brands increase engagement, provide better customer service, and get dedicated tech support in a seamless manner.
Good customer experience minimises friction, maximises speed and efficiency and maintains a human element, along with automation and technology. Good CX makes consumers feel valued and appreciated. The benefits of good CX outweighs tangible and monetary gains. Marketers today try to ensure every interaction between the business and customers is smooth, pleasant and continuously improving. Done right, the business stands to gain immensely. If CX is done haphazardly and clumsily, the business stands to lose a lot, starting with customers.