It’s no surprise that the job of a marketer is extremely complex in today’s business world, especially with digital channels allowing customers to command how and when, if ever, they will engage with your brand. In addition, marketers have less and less control over their brand communications than ever before. Despite this, they are routinely asked to boost customer insight and experience like these brands.
Marketers need to shift their mindset from telling customers what their company wants them to hear, to listening to customers and having engaging conversations on their terms, when and where they want to have them.
It’s a different way of thinking and engaging. When done right, it will create deep connections to target consumers. The time is now to change the focus from campaign-oriented marketing to real-time marketing.
Check out our thoughts on customer focus.
The end state quality of the product or service the customer receives is what counts. However, this Includes the experience the customer remembered while he purchased the item. Often that is what is remembered the most.
So what constitutes a great customer experience?
The quality of your company’s customer experience is ultimately determined by the way customers feel after their last interaction. If the customer is unhappy, your company’s customer experience is bad. If the customer doesn’t have a feeling one way or the other, your company’s customer experience is mediocre. If the customer feels good, your company’s customer experience is satisfactory.
But if the customer feels delighted, your company’s customer experience is a substantial competitive advantage. That is the only one that really matters to success. And the one everyone is attempting to find the magic for.
So, let’s dig deeper into these customer experiences and what they should include in order to be successful.
Feelings and emotions certainly have a significant role in the way customers influenced in the marketing process. Zappos and its business culture of ‘delivering happiness’ certainly has established this as one of its distinct customer experience designs.
Have you ever been in a Whole Foods grocery store? If you have you will remember the emphasis of the visual presentation of their products. Draws your eyes to many, even if you are not looking for them. Helping customers visualize and sometimes taste the products.
Product trial usage
Get the customer involved in trying their skill with your different products. More and more businesses are building product trial engagements into their customer experience designs as discriminators. Two of the best at this design approach are Bass Pro Shops and Legos, which often have become major attractions.
Engage all the senses
Starbucks is the master of the customer experience design of engaging all the senses. From the luring visual appeal of their stores, to the coffee aroma, to the new sound headset stages, and the unique tastes of their products, they engage all of your senses. You may not be Starbucks, but you should consider how you can better engage customer senses in their experience.
Immersion in product and the brand
Here what the brand represents surrounds the customer and positively influences everywhere they turn. The two best example of brand immersion? You’ll surely recognize the Disney World and Legos brands in this regard.
More details: 8 Ways Disney World Makes Customer Experience a Difference Maker
Creating good feelings
When a business does something good for someone, that somebody feels good about them. Are you familiar with the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream brand? They are leaders in this type of discrimination.
More details: 12 Lessons from Ben and Jerry’s Marketing Strategies
This example, while being traditional, will surprise you in the best brand in this discrimination category. Ever flown Jet Blue? Our favorite airline because of its great, unique discriminators. Consider its high touch service, its Direct TV and XM radio and quality snacks. They are number 1 in our minds.
Fostering ideas, intentions, and interests is the key to this experience. Dell and Starbucks, along with Zappos, are the standouts in this category with their long standing use of customer crowdsourcing. Legos is also growing its crowdsourcing usage.
The customer journey
Marketers need to predict and monitor the customer journey, not the sales cycle. When marketing and sales deliver the right information at the right time, they are able to build relationships and let the customer choose the direction. This includes inbound marketing tactics like offering premium content the customer downloads after submitting profile information, which helps to identify qualified leads and provide more relevant information in subsequent interactions.
Conversations need to take place in real-time. Thanks to real-time decision technology, organizations have the to ability deliver a personalized experience to each customer or prospect right at that moment of interaction — be it lunch on a weekday or one in the morning. Give them what they need, when they need it, and structure your digital ecosystem so that consumers can discover more through serendipity, not by you forcing it on them.
Personalization is essential
Relevance and personalization are key. Customers get vocal and often discredit the company and its communication when they encounter marketing and advertising that doesn’t speak to their needs and interests. In one recent example — and there are countless others — a photo service sent out emails congratulating customers on having a baby.
The problem was the email went out to the company’s entire list, which included people who had not welcomed a new bundle of joy and were offended. The secret to delivering a tailored experience is collecting data, using it to show your audience you understand them, looking at analytics to find opportunities for improvement, and optimizing continuously.
Customer insight … solving customer problems
Marketing content has to be about solving problems, not selling products. Today’s consumers are sophisticated and wary of blatant marketing efforts. Every communication needs to address critical challenges and pain points and answer “what’s in it for me” for every customer. You’ll know your messaging is resonating if people are sharing your content.
Stay consistent at all costs
Brand interactions need to be consistent across all channels. Whenever and wherever someone interacts with your brand, the experience needs to build upon everything that came before and flow seamlessly into what they do next. Again, this is a challenge aided by technology. If a customer calls a contact center, wouldn’t it be good to know in real-time that the customer had recently opened an email about a particular product, and read six web pages about that product?
Marketers and CRM specialists need to maintain an interaction data store, so that the history and meaning of previous interactions can be factored into the personalized next-best action decision engine. Attribute data about a person and people like that person is no longer enough to make optimal real-time decisions in this omni-channel world.
Keep experimenting with channels
Omni-channel capabilities will be critical. Today’s marketing is all about meeting your customers where they are, regardless of channel or platform. If your audience spends time on Twitter or Pinterest, so should you. If they’re mostly on tablets and phones, consider a mobile app. But all of this technology needs to work together to avoid mixed or misdirected messages, like the example given in rule No. 3.
Keeping all promises
Don’t make a promise you can’t keep. You can’t just tell people they’re important to you; you need to show it in everything you do and say. That includes addressing issues and complaints promptly and professionally, as well as asking permission and earning trust at every interaction.
It’s important to note that changing the minds of your fellow marketing team members might not be easy at first, but the first step is to commit to changing the focus from campaign-oriented marketing to real-time marketing. You need to devise a plan and shift and gather the right team to develop a holistic, long-term strategy — then get ready to put those plans into motion. The organizations that embrace this new reality will be the ones that rise to the top.
The bottom line
Here’s the thing, social isn’t just a new way of marketing, it’s really a new way of running a business. Many businesses certainly have figured this out and are using social marketing and improved customer experience to rapidly grow their business.
So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you. But believe in the effectiveness of customer experience as a key way to discriminate. And put it to good use.
It’s up to you to keep improving your creative, social marketing and customer experience efforts. Lessons are all around you. In this case, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Try. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy improving your customer experience?
Do you have a lesson about making your customer experience better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on marketing and advertising from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
10 Laws of Customer Experience Design
What Little Things Small Businesses Can Do To Build Customer Relationships
Customer Experience Improvements Begin with Understanding Their Value