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In a world where Amazon offers next-day and even same-day delivery, where Netflix can accurately predict which movies and TV shows you'll enjoy next, and where you can order a taxi, see its location, learn about your driver, share your whereabouts, pay and tip all from an app, an excellent online customer experience (CX) has to be a priority for every business with an online presence.
While some of us grew up in a time when Amazon only sold books, Netflix sent DVDs through the post, and to get a taxi that wasn't a black cab you needed the yellow pages, the consumers of today expect brands to make their life simple. They expect to be able to find everything they need online, and they expect it to be an easy and pleasant experience to get it. Let’s dive into the world of CX, and why it’s so important for businesses to prioritise it.
To understand it fully, though, we need to look at what a CX strategy is and how it leads digital transformation. We’ll also look at why word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful and how businesses can leverage both digital channels and technology to improve customer satisfaction and engagement.
What is digital customer experience?
Digital CX is the sum of all the digital interactions a customer has with your brand across all touchpoints, from your website, your e-commerce store, mobile app, social media, email and more. As we've established, customer expectations are high.
Meeting, let alone exceeding, those expectations isn't always easy. In fact, exceeding customer expectations in the digital-first world isn’t just about making customers happy, it’s also about creating a positive brand image, improving customer loyalty and increasing revenue.
How does CX drive digital transformation?
Digital transformation is about how we decide to use technology to improve our business - the processes and technology we use, and the products and services we offer. Consumer expectation now has a huge impact on the digital changes we choose to make.
That's why the digital experience our customers have with us is such a crucial part of the equation. When we prioritise our customers’ digital experience, we can gain valuable insights and feedback about their pain points, how they behave, and what their preferences are. We can then process data collected to help improve our business strategy, and the products and services we offer.
Fortunately, putting the customer first is already at the centre of many organisations' strategies.
Research shows that 35% of business executives claim that digital transformation helps them to better meet their customers' expectations. This might be anything from using artificial intelligence for chatbots that speed up customer service issues, replacing the need to make a phone call with a social media channel, through to offering virtual reality room scenarios to choose new furniture, removing the need to visit a physical store.
Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful
This is one of the oldest and most powerful tools in marketing! And the importance of it can't be understated - especially for small business. When customers have a positive experience with your organisation, they’re more likely to share their experience with others.
According to a study by Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any other form of advertising – Global Trust in Advertising report
Which is why the experience you build for your customers has to be not only seamless but also memorable. Providing excellent customer service isn't enough. In order to gain a competitive advantage, you need to provide multiple channels for customer service, enable self-service where appropriate, and surprise and delight your audience by using technology to analyse data and give them personalised experiences.
By focusing on exceeding customer expectations, we can create loyal, enthusiastic brand advocates who will help to spread the word about how they use and feel about our products and services.
A core metric for CX management programmes is net promoter scores (NPS). They measure how likely a customer will recommend your company, product, or service to someone else. Answers that result in a high NPS score indicate that customers are not only satisfied with the experience they receive but also willing to tell others about it. Using the NPS score to help drive customer satisfaction levels can have a positive impact on your company, brand reputation and customer acquisition.
Retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones
It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. But retaining customers isn't easy. Because customers expect so much from their transactions, gaining their loyalty takes time, and often numerous high quality touchpoints and experiences.
Focusing on creating these upfront may require investment, but it'll pay off in customer retention.
By analysing your customer journey to find out where the drop off points are and invest resources into improvements that will keep customers in the funnel, build loyalty, boost sales and improve your bottom line. A win for everyone!
It's important to remember that cost alone shouldn’t drive customer acquisition and retention programmes. A customer’s lifetime value (CLV) is also important and that can include more than just the amount of money they spend with your brand - as we've discussed with word of mouth marketing, a customer's ability to refer and bring people with them is also extremely valuable.
Five ways to create great digital customer experience
There are some simple ways to make sure that your customers have a positive experience with every interaction.
Personalisation: Use customer data to personalise their experience - offer product recommendations based on their purchase history, personalise messages with the information you’ve gathered about who they are and what they like, and send bespoke offers based on their preferences.
Omnichannel experience: All you sales, marketing and communication channels should be cohesive and consistent, providing your customers with a seamless experience. They should receive the same high levels of service and the same messaging no matter which channel they engage with.
User-friendly design: Your channels shouldn’t just be visually appealing. They need to be fully accessible for a wide range of differing abilities. Optimise your website for screen readers so that blind users can have as good an experience as seeing users. Include subtitles in any videos so deaf and hard of hearing users are not excluded. Consider the colours you use and look into modules that make your site more accessible for neuro-diverse users.
Fast and reliable service: When your customers run into a problem, it is an opportunity to showcase sector leading customer service. Make sure there are processes in place to deal with issues and queries quickly and positively and offer different ways for customers to get in touch - live chat, email, phone, or social media.
Continuous improvement: Standing still isn’t an option anymore. The things you do to go above and beyond for your customers will soon be normalised and become part of their expectation. That means you need to continually be gathering feedback, and analysing data, so you can test new ideas and improvements. That way, you will ensure that the experience is always evolving to meet changing customer needs and expectations.
Knowing what your customers need (and what they want) is crucial to the survival of any business. Customer behaviour and customer feedback can give companies useful insight into how to best to position marketing campaigns, to which products and services to launch or tailor, and where to show up on the internet and in person to increase visibility with the right audiences.
And when we gather that data, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that consumers are more aware than ever of sales and marketing tactics - they can spot a message a mile off, and they have ever increasing expectations.
Social media gives our customers a platform to publicly express their opinions - good and bad - meaning businesses need to be more vigilant, and approach customer service with more urgency. On the plus side, they can use social media gives us a way to research and communicate with customers, to build relationships with them, to keep customers updated on what we can do for them, and to gather and act on the feedback they give us.
Digital technology for managing CX
Every day there seem to be new tools and technologies designed to help businesses improve digital customer experiences. From chatbots that provide speedy answers to customer queries, to robust customer relationship management (CRM) tools that process customer information and help you manage tailored email marketing and outreach campaigns.
Data analytics tools have also seen significant growth and offer valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences, giving you the opportunity to create personalised consumer experiences that foster long-term relationships.
Creating a smooth customer journey
Customers expect businesses to be able to provide a seamless digital journey for all digital devices - a journey that's personalised, gives easy access to recommended products and services and meets customer needs. The better the customer data you collect for your CRM, the better the customer service you can offer.
There’s a growing and complex web of technology and methodologies that promise a potentially bewildering detailed view of how to serve our customers better. Ensuring your employees know how to use them and interpret the data to manage customer expectations, whilst creating a positive and human response, requires the ability to act swiftly and with purpose.
If you want to engage with your customers and foster long-lasting relationships with them, you need to incorporate high quality online customer experience as a key part of your marketing and overall growth strategy. Listen to customer feedback, explore the digital technology available, look at what other brands in your sector and beyond are doing and bring your employees along with you on the journey.
Highly motivated senior marketing and production executive with broad experience. Partnering with various sized companies including several of the animation industry’s most critically acclaimed film studios, to understand and set strategic goals and then find effective and innovative ways to achieve those goals.
With work experience ranging from social media content production to consumer product development; from feature film deliveries to tv spots, trailers and featurettes; from understanding new technologies, how they work and developing new systems with in house with technology teams to developing tie-in partnerships and mobile and online game development; live and virtual event planning to joint company/partner presentations; and from CRM creation, setting strategic goals and strategies, to data and insights analysis. Ensuring all deliveries are creatively on point with company brands or style guides. Simultaneously working to develop the in house talent to grow and offer more options and solutions for the company and be a leader in creative solutions.