A smooth customer experience is synonymous to being at a nightclub in Vegas or Ibiza. Every song keeps you moving and as you listen, you quickly realize the DJ is seamlessly mixing music together highlighting the best part of each song without a break, a rough transition or any sort of disruption throughout the evening.
As organizations continue to tackle their need to optimize customer experiences, they often develop tiger teams or specific “digital” business units tasked with changing the way customers (both B2C and B2B) view their product/service. According to predictions from Fortune 100 CMOs, the term “customer experience” won’t exist in the organization of the future. It will be so deeply entrenched in a company’s product, process and culture that it will be synonymous with the brand and represent the only way to do business.
Recently, our team attended the Texas Marketing Summit, and I moderated a panel discussing the way organizations can navigate the optimization of their customer experiences. As I spent time listening to the challenges marketers were facing throughout the conference, a few key learnings became increasingly obvious from specific organizations that are succeeding on this customer journey.
- Invest in the customer experience
- We hear leaders from organizations talking about strengthening the customer experience as a top priority year in and year out, but they are not financially committing to make it stronger. Leading organizations that have doubled down on customer experience have made (and continue to make) significant investments in new technologies. In the coming year, organizations are expected to invest more than 300% in AI, machine learning and predictive intelligence.
- Look outside your industry to excel within your industry
- As needs and demands continue to increase across each industry, organizations find themselves looking to “one-up” each other. While this level of competition is healthy, it can be more fruitful for organizations to look outside their industry at complementary industries looking to accomplish the same thing. You will find that there are more commonalities and learnings for driving a strong experience than previously thought. Toyota’s CEO recently spoke at CES conference saying “Our competitors no longer make cars. Companies like Google, Apple and even Facebook are what I think about at night.”
- Keep the main thing…the main thing
- We oftentimes, see organizations going to market (through their website or mobile presence) the way they are structured internally. They lose sight of the fact that customers don’t think that way. They think in terms of “what am I here to accomplish?” and “am I able to do it in a quick and seamless way?” If organizations are not enabling that that type of experience and use that real estate to market all the wonderful things their customers do, they will soon find themselves one customer short as they will have moved on as a result of irrelevance.
- Develop and execute an omni-channel strategy
- 15 years ago, the average consumer typically used two touch-points when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today, consumers use an average of almost six touch points, with 50% regularly using more than four. Making sure that your organization is cognizant and providing a strong brand representation across all of these various channels will be vital to your customers developing a positive opinion of your brand and, moreover, providing you the ability to drive influence towards them.
- Learn your customer and then show them you know them
- Many organizations collect loads of data from their customers but very few know how to make that data actionable. Leading organizations today are not only collecting and synthesizing that customer data, but they are marrying these learning with a predictive intelligence engine that is anticipating their customers’ needs and helping them promote the right product and/or service at the appropriate time.
- Set yourself up internally to succeed
- Focus on enabling a stronger internal culture to allow for employees to not only support the digital transformation that you are enabling but also sustain that transformation and experience as your organization scales. Once employees are onboard and are actually executing against that customer experience strategy, continue to incentivize their behavior. A recent report from Forrester suggested that only 31% of organizations recognize and reward employees across the company for improving customer experience.
- Don’t forget about your friends in IT as they are the real MVPs
- While organizations continue to move towards a digital future, they fail to recognize the importance of the teams that will help make their ideas a reality. Make sure to constantly collaborate and elevate the importance of the technologists in each and every conversation. As your organization invests in the experience, be smart about the purpose of each investment.
You may come across articles and reports that suggest customer experience is more important now than it ever was before. It’s not true. Customer experience has always held a high level of importance. What has changed is the amount of selection and choice the customer has today than before thus empowering the customer to make decisions based on excellent experience.
Organizations can’t afford to not pay attention to each and every potential and current customer in the digital age. Try to remember the way you felt when you went to that one party with a less than capable DJ abruptly ending and beginning each song with complete disregard for your graceful dance moves. We’ve all been there. Don’t let your customers be a victim to that too.