The trouble with customer experience initiatives is that usually, you don’t realize you have an issue until something disastrous occurs. Generally regarded as investments by big established brands with deep marketing budgets, customer experience programmes tend to be ignored by smaller brands, who are often at a loss as to why customer retention is so low, or why they struggle to achieve word-of-mouth referrals.
This is a problem, because it is precisely in the realm of customer experience that Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands or challenger start-ups can carve out an untouchable space in the market to become a loved brand. Competing on price or product is not sustainable, as there will always be another competitor ready to enter the arena. In the battleground for winning customers in a competitive market: experience is your secret weapon to securing lower customer acquisition costs and driving up lifetime value. In short: it cannot be ignored by anyone.
- Your customers are judging your brand experience whether it’s an organizational priority or not
- A forgettable experience can be just as harmful to your bottom line as a negative one
- DTC brands or digital natives tend to have an advantage over traditional business models because they have better access to customer data, and therefore control over customer journey mapping
- Customer journey mapping helps sales and marketing teams to identify critical moments in a consumer’s lifecycle that drive conversion
- Journey mapping also facilitates the internal workflows necessary for successful customer experience initiatives
Customer experience and brand experience are the new battleground for winning consumers’ most precious commodity: time
Customer experience captures the impact of every interaction a consumer has with your brand during the customer lifecycle, from discovering your website through search display all the way to unpacking the product or receiving the service. Similarly, brand experience is defined as the totality of all the potential interactions a consumer could have with the brand: providing a more holistic view of the touchpoints that can impact a consumer’s perception of your brand.
Great customer experience allows you to lower customer acquisition costs through word-of-mouth referrals, retain customers and increase average order size and transaction frequency, and build resilience to price sensitivity that allows companies to sustainably grow without relying on discount-driven sales. As consumers also suffer from ad fatigue, customer experience empowers brands to have meaningful conversations with their audiences as a way for helping brand recall and to stay top-of-mind. Even more crucial when studies demonstrate that a positive experience with a brand is more influential than great advertising (a study by PwC showed that 65% respondents agree).
Brands which are able to deliver fantastic customer experience will be able to retain consumers’ attention and keep them coming back to their key touchpoints.
Ready for a deeper dive? Listen to our podcast on why your customer experience programme might be failing – and what to do about it!
Your customers are judging your brand experience whether it’s an organizational priority or not
As revealed by our definitions, then, customer experience is at stake whether you make it a brand priority or not. In saturated markets where it’s getting increasingly difficult to cut through the noise, it’s clear that DTC brands who can leverage their touchpoints to delight customers have a clear advantage over consumers.
A forgettable experience can be just as harmful to your bottom line as a negative one: in both cases you stand to lose the customer. That’s the trouble with customer experience initiatives is that your brand is constantly being judged by consumers. You don’t need to be accumulating negative reviews until customer experience becomes a problem: according to a survey by PwC, only 49% respondents stated that companies are providing a good customer experience today. Especially in today’s uncertain climate with brands looking for ways to stay ahead of their competitors post COVID-19: you want to make sure you are on the right side of that statistic.
The good news is that customer experience programmes do not have to be complicated to be successful. There is no point investing in the latest AR technologies if you haven’t covered your basics. Providing a seamless transition across brand channels or ensuring your customer service agents are empowered with the right information to help consumers are two critical starting points that lay the foundation for your brand experience.
You can’t improve your customer experience until you’ve mapped out your customer journey
Customer journey mapping is much more than just an accessory marketing activity. Unless you know how your customers are interacting with you across different channels, you will merely be able to guess at which brand moments are having the biggest impact (positive or negative) on driving conversion.
Digital natives and DTC brands are at an advantage here because they typically exert more control over where consumers interact with them (compared to traditional organizational models that relinquish control over their touchpoints as they reach consumers through e-commerce aggregators or retailers). Brands must implement a data analytics programme that allows them to quantify the relationships they have with their customers.
This helps sales and marketing teams to identify critical moments in a consumer’s lifecycle that drive conversion, as well as implement ROI frameworks that allow departments to focus resources on content and campaigns that generate long-term results. In addition, as brands increasingly recalibrate their approach between short-term activation tactics and longer term brand-building strategies, customer journey mapping will play a significant role in understanding how to measure success beyond short-term KPIs.
Companies who successfully measure ROI for customer experience will be able to sustain buy-in from key stakeholders and ensure long-term success for their programmes.
Journey mapping also facilitates the internal workflows necessary for successful customer experience initiatives
Customer journey mapping also has other advantages because it forces organizations to adopt the shifts that are necessary for a successful Customer Experience programe, such as getting teams to work together across different departments. Customer experience initiatives inherently transcend team boundaries, and so require deliberate and strategic data-sharing amongst teams.
Because customer experience initiatives depend on data, a successful data analytics programme – and the digital transformation efforts that support it – will be crucial in driving the outcome. Breaking down data silos also helps to frame employee thinking to put customers in the centre of their activities and is a great first step to help prepare the right workflows for implementation.
Where to next?
For a deeper dive into customer experience initiatives, listen to our podcast on Digital Disrupted. We talk case studies, common pitfalls in customer experience initiatives, and provide actionable insights for brands to improve their experience.
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