When I was a kid I remember having to go (many times quite reluctantly) to events or parties with my parents. Keep in mind, these were not functions designed for kids, but in lieu of finding someone to stay with me and my siblings, we were required to attend. While my parents were enjoying the event and the experience of being there, my siblings and I, for at least a few hours were confined to childish boredom and merely bystanders. This is the difference between being a mere participant and actually having a memorable experience.
Can the same be said for your customers? While the majority of CEOs, according to numerous research reports, state that customer experience is a top priority, the question must be asked, are your customers truly having an experience or are they simply participating? Are they actively engaging with or just mere bystanders of your brand?
When you think about an experience, you think of something that is memorable. It could be an event, an interaction, a conversation. It is something that leaves a lasting impression and this is what organizations that aspire to provide customer experience need to provide. Buyers today are more demanding and have more choices than ever before and will not hesitate to move on if the experience does not meet the expectation or deliver on your brand promise.
So how do you begin to drive something memorable for your customers? Here are a few things to get started.
Many organizations have a brand value that they believe they are bringing to their customers. However, when you begin engaging with the organization at the front lines (sales, customer service, delivery), that brand promise starts to fade. Why? In many cases the employees, the ones that are the embodiment of making that brand promise a reality, are not empowered to do so.
By empowering your people to make the right decisions on behalf of their customers, organizations are paving the way for a great customer experience. One of the companies that comes to mind with this is Zappos, who has numerous stories of their agents engaging with their customers in meaningful ways far beyond just selling shoes.
If you empower your people to deliver on the brand promise, you will provide a better overall experience and begin to create brand advocates.
I am actually not a big fan of the term “customer lifecycle” as it indicates that there is an end to engaging with customers when the idea should be to make customers advocates. However, too many companies do not truly understand the end-to-end lifecycle of their customers which starts with brand engagement and goes through to advocate. As is the case, they inadvertently limit their ability to deliver on customer experience.
One of the first things organizations should do is document their customer experience journey from their customers perspective. In so doing, there is a holistic view of the customer and a clearer picture of how to meet their needs at every touch point.
It is not good enough to have a content marketing strategy. Organizations have to get more granular in understanding the purpose for the content they are creating. Is the content brand content, product content, demand generation content, etc.? One size does not fit all and the need to align and focus content to the stage of the customer journey is imperative if it is going to be part of the customer experience strategy.
The need to provide a meaningful customer experience is not going away. More and more customer’s demands are increasing and they expect more from the brands they buy. It is a matter of giving them an experience versus them simply participating.