Today’s always connected, ever demanding, and impatient customers are likely to experience your brand from multiple touchpoints — from smartphones to large in-venue screens — and they are making judgments about your business and your company based on the experiences they have with your brand. The majority of consumers are not happy with what they are experiencing. Sixty-eight percent have stopped doing business with a brand due to poor digital customer experience, according to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report for Microsoft.
They are not concerned with your business as much as they are concerned with the quality of their experiences, and their experiences are based on very different criteria than ever before. Businesses are realizing that customer-experience management (CEM) needs to be at the core of every company strategy, from lead generation to post-transaction customer support.
The Harvard Business Review reported that most companies lack mature customer-experience management programs, and few adequately fund customer-experience efforts. More data exists than ever before to track the customer journey through their association with your brand, but few companies know what to do with all that data.
Leading-edge companies are adopting new mindsets within their organizations that put the customer experience first. They understand that making a direct correlation between business objectives and the complete customer journey in relationship to the brand is key.
Here are some of the new realities of customer service:
- Nearly half of the technology-savvy users of 2016 expect a site to load in two seconds or less, and they will abandon a site that is not fully loaded within three seconds.
- Page views, paid-search click-throughs, and email open rates do not tell you much about the customer’s behavior or expectations, and they do not provide the actionable insights that you can get from modern analytic data.
- Post-transaction support is just as vital as the actual transaction. You must work to make each of your customers a brand ambassador.
- You must create a customer-centric culture within your organization. Customer-experience management extends beyond the digital world into every form of contact your customer has with the company. All departments and divisions must be given incentives to think like the customer.
- You need metrics that really tell you what your customer is doing. Your business and business objectives determine what metrics make sense to you.
Today’s customer demands — and even craves — an exceptional experience. Here are five traits common to the most engaging customer experiences:
- Personalized – Your customers want you to know their buying histories and make suggestions. Proceed cautiously, though, and realize that customers may be uncomfortable with some data you may have. For example, people assume you know their movements while they are at your site, but they are less familiar with the idea that you know their physical location while they are online. Also, properly designed loyalty programs can result in positive gain, but if your loyalty program sends out coupons that are not based on past purchases, you run the risk of losing your customer.
- Useful and Contextually Relevant – As customers move through their journeys with the brand, what are relevant changes at every step? It is all about context. Here is where analytics data can really help, since your customers’ digital actions can be analyzed and translated into behavior patterns. Location-based services can provide relevant context as well. Also, single transactions must be accessible across all channels available to customers. For instance, they might start the transaction on a phone, continue it on a tablet or laptop, and finish it on a desktop. All channels must work.
- Timely – All customer experiences must be managed in a timely manner. Delivering the right experience at the right time is a modern imperative. This is not only applicable across your digital touchpoints of the customer journey. Brick and mortar is still in play, too. Recent study findings suggest that, on the phone, wait times of over three minutes are considered unacceptable by over half of those surveyed. Timeliness also applies to the amount of time it takes customers to find what they are looking for at your site.
- Omni-channel – Seamless experiences across all touchpoints — digital or physical — make for happy customers. Today’s customers may start their journeys on their phones and end them on desktops, tablets, or laptops. In some cases, they might want to place their orders on a tabletop voice-activated service like the Amazon Echo. Or use the power of the many things in the Internet of Things (IoT) arena to interact with your brand.
- Social – In today’s non-linear customer journey, social interactions take place all along the way. Potential customers may be attracted to your brand because of a tweet, retweet their interest (considered a “micro-conversion”), and then immediately start looking for reviews. Take charge of your social landscape and look for ways to connect customers with each other.
Companies that survive in today’s landscape, where customer experience drives all aspects of operations, will only succeed if they allow these new perspectives to become part of the company culture and its new, ever-evolving set of core values.