You may think of big data, content marketing, mobile, or social as being the future of marketing, but it’s the combination of all 4 that helps companies make great experiences for customers. In essence, Customer Experience is the now and future king of marketing — the connection between a positive Worker Experience and Customer Experience, and the company-customer relationship made possible by the many facets of marketing.
What do customers want?
Customers associate brands with experiences. If your Amazon Prime Now delivery driver shows up at the beginning of the delivery window, you’re pleased with Amazon as a whole — not just the driver, not just your same-day-delivered My Cousin Vinny DVD. Meanwhile, if a pizza you ordered through Grubhub never shows up and Grubhub’s customer service rep can’t get ahold of the restaurant to rectify the situation, you don’t just blame the restaurant; you blame the third-party delivery service. In this digital age, customers want things fast. They want to be able to track deliveries up to the moment and get customer support on any device. Moreover, we have the technology to make these expectations into a reality, even a standard practice.
That being said, there’s another important piece of the greater Customer Experience puzzle: customers want an experience beyond that of the traditional brand-consumer relationship; they want a personalized experience. At last year’s Gartner Customer 360 Summit, Gene Alvarez, Managing Vice President at Gartner, addressed the newfound importance of a personalized customer journey: “Customers will not tolerate companies that have amnesia when it comes to remembering them and their preferences for recognition. This makes it imperative for companies to recognize their customers and to serve them pertinent content that demonstrates the proper recognition and treatment.”
A mutually beneficial relationship between customer and company
A great Customer Experience then — the culmination of customer data, targeted content marketing, engaging social media, and anytime, anywhere mobility across all devices — is more than a positive interaction. The next level is a deeper relationship between customer and company; Christy Pettey, a Gartner contributor, explains that “customers believe that they have a relationship with a provider once they have transacted with that provider. They believe they should be recognized by the provider, and the experience should be mutually beneficial, and therefore designed with them in mind — similar to most relationships.” With all the data companies collect when interacting with customers, it’s reasonable for customers to believe that the data will be used to more personally and efficiently interact with them. Sadly, most customer data isn’t used to its full potential, or worse, kept in silos across an organization. And if customer data is collected but doesn’t appear to be used to connect with customers (e.g., immediately recall their account information and transactional history), customers tend to feel exploited… and rightly so. Pettey also writes, “‘If they collect all my personal data,’ the buyer or constituent thinks, “then they should at least use all that data to understand me before they interact with me.’ Moreover, they expect the relationship to be a positive one.” Customers expect brands they’ve interacted with before to be able to problem-solve and deliver on their brand values and promise — one of which is usually to put their customers first.
The penalty for a poor Customer Experience
The internet is our largest and most accessible court of public opinion — meaning that companies can’t afford to provide customers with negative, broken experiences. Scorned customers don’t just tell their close friends about a faulty product or flawed delivery; they flock to Twitter and Facebook and Reddit and Tumblr to publicly flog a company for its wrongdoings. While fear isn’t always the greatest motivator, it does point to a larger issue: If companies don’t provide customer self-service portals, or if the people in their call centers can’t access information a customer input online only minutes earlier, they’ll lose out to companies that put those capabilities at the forefront of their digital Customer Experience strategy. It takes everyone in your organization — engineers, strategists, content marketers, data scientists — to champion a truly transformative Customer Experience. Customer Experience isn’t just one team; it’s everyone in your organization tasked with optimizing the customer journey.