Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer's journey. In this article, we unpack why strategy plays such a big role in all of this.
Naren Mewa, Chief Digital Officer, Tarsus Distribution
The internet has changed people. It has altered expectations around information, communication, and commerce. Everything must be immediate, and competition for users’ attention is fierce. What are the most important elements of creating an industry-leading customer experience?
Gartner defines customer experience as the “customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products”. It spans the lifetime of customers' relationships with a brand.
Let’s look at some of the elements we can use to build and create a fantastic customer experience.
Define the Customer Experience Vision
What is your vision for a customer's experience? What expectations do they have? What expectations do we think they have? Canvas your customers to find out what are some of the challenges they experience so that you can begin to better understand them. Use your CRM platforms to help give you greater insight and fast-track the process. The goal is to ensure uniformity and consistency of experience. It begins with setting the vision and applying everything that is required to enable it, implement it, support it and report on it.
Create an Omnichannel Customer Experience
Over the past 15 months, COVID-19 has prompted new thinking about the omnichannel experience, forcing businesses to prioritise omnichannel efforts. With people confined to their homes, the shift of consumer spending toward e-commerce has spotlighted the role that omnichannel has come to play for retailers.
Customers want access to everything with ease, 24x7. This requires retailers to think of omnichannel as the full suite of ways a consumer can engage with the brand from store to store, to contact centre, website, app, and social media. Many companies have the technology to facilitate omnichannel, but their strategy for doing so is fragmented because they segment customers and treat them all differently. We need to focus on developing an omnichannel experience that allows every customer to communicate and engage with us through any channel they choose.
Up the Quality of the Customer Experience
There are valid reasons why takealot.com became South Africa’s biggest e-commerce site. Other online retailers may sell certain items at a cheaper price, but the quality of the experience does not make it worthwhile.
Clunky, unstructured websites do not make for a good customer experience. People want the ability to search for a product and find it within 20 seconds. Companies need to determine how to make that happen. What data is required? What type of indexing of keywords needs to happen on the backend of the system?
We also need to be very conscious of not being arrogant enough to assume we know what the customer wants and what is best for them. How you measure a quality experience is through the eyes of the customer, not through those of the people that are implementing the technology.
Understand your Customer
Creating an experience around an in-depth understanding of your customers allows a business to create an emotional connection with them. It’s about getting to know your customers so well that you can anticipate their needs and exceed their expectations. This is where the role of the chief digital officer comes into play.
Understanding your customers requires you to put yourself in their shoes and take a hard look at the points at which your customers have contact with your business. While it’s not possible to profile each and every individual, your CRM system has the type of data that can reveal your customers’ buying patterns, allowing you to identify their needs more effectively, and to up- and cross-sell to them.
Create a Connection with Customers Through a Continuous Feedback Loop
Customer satisfaction surveys help to provide valuable insights. But don't ask for feedback if you're not prepared to make changes. There are other ways to collect information too. Imagine bolting a couple of questions onto every single digital experience a customer has with your business. Neutral customers are unlikely to bother to respond. Happy customers often enjoy telling companies about their great experiences. Unhappy customers do too, and you can use their responses as an opportunity to make improvements, and then tell them what you have done as a result of their feedback. Acting on continuous feedback allows a company to drive changes in processes, systems, and employee training.
Creating a connection with customers requires greater customer empathy. Understanding customers on a deeper level means knowing more about who they are, what they're going through and what their motivations are. Why would you try to sell a single man, who works from home, a washing machine with a 10kg capacity? He doesn’t care if it’s on special that week; it simply does not meet his needs. If you knew a little more about your customers, you would be able to recommend a better option for their requirements. In turn, the business would benefit from increased customer loyalty, greater customer satisfaction, enthusiastic word-of-mouth marketing, positive reviews, and a boost to the bottom line.