Remember not so long ago, experts predicted that by 2020, customer experience (CX) would become the main differentiator for brands, outweighing both product and price? Well, we’ve arrived. The world has changed. Customers have changed. Has the way you understand and serve those customers really changed? Have you changed the way you work, how you invest, and how you define great experiences?
According to CapGemini, while three-quarters of businesses today consider themselves to be customer-centric, only 30% of customers agree. So, what gives?
The long and short of it is that delivering on customer expectations is proving harder than expected for brands. And with plummeting tolerance for a poor CX, and consumers less and less willing to give second chances, getting it wrong is a costly affair.
And this isn’t a problem that acquisition alone can fix. First off, it’s more costly to attract new customers than to retain them. Second, it’s not a viable business strategy, because all evidence points to the fact that delivering a spot-on CX gives a business at least 3X the conversion rate and revenue growth over its competitors which provides an advantage no short-term spend or price drop can catch.
So how exactly do you go about tackling the growing CX crisis, and shrink the experience gap for a better, healthier digital future?
A Zero Waste Approach To Data
Too much of consumers’ online activity ends up unused — sure, this beauty brand knows it’s your birthday, but do they know how annoying it was to click on that lipstick three times and still not land on the product page? Do they know you want to see how it looks on your face with other makeup? Well, they certainly should.
Brands today have access to the tools they need to make every single second of digital activity (or inactivity) meaningful, and leverage this meaning to improve the experience for customers. Think of digital browsing as an insightful type of Voice of the Customer — every scroll, tap, hover and click tells the story of your customers’ intent and challenges, satisfaction and frustration.
This ongoing digital feedback is fuel for insights that generate new opportunities, innovation and competitive advantage.
So if digital customer signals are all there for the understanding, why are so many businesses still only scratching the surface of the possibilities of data? And how can you drive maximum impact from customer data?
If you haven’t already, now is the time to adopt a zero-waste approach to data processing: collect only the data you need, analyze that data to extract relevant insights, and make it easy for everyone on the team to act on every piece of customer intelligence.
Digital leaders who adhere to zero waste push their teams and their vendors to insist on solutions and services that go well beyond the confines of click stream analytics. They ensure transparent data collection and usage practices. They create data-driven cultures and processes, including analytics, as integral parts of business discussions and decisions rather than a separate function.
At Contentsquare, everything we do starts with the data we collect, with the most comprehensive set of meaningful digital signals available. We take this responsibility seriously. We turn the trillions of behaviors into useful and quantifiable recommendations, making it easy for brands to act on those signals and give customers what they are loudly — even silently — asking for.
Balancing Troubleshooting With Innovation
Digital teams regularly use insights to improve their site and app experience in two ways: to troubleshoot issues (recover from errors fast) and grow through innovation (uncover hidden opportunities).
Brands are always going to have to do all three, but in order to maintain their competitive advantage, they need to be able to tackle each of these strands as part of one holistic approach to experience-building. They need to quantify the strategic and numeric impact of each potential improvement, and prioritize the investments that will add up to the biggest total impact.
Because a reactive experience strategy won’t keep pace with the fluctuating nature of customer behavior, or the fluid essence of experience design. Just like your GPS is constantly learning from historic locations to predict future trajectories, experience builders should leverage behavioral data to anticipate customer mindsets and preferences.
Insights For All
Probably the biggest inhibitor to innovation and impact right now is the inability of teams to act, or act in time, on insights that matter. A lot of customer analyses happen separate from the experience execution owners. The limited access to analytics tools and the lag time inherent in the cycle of question-answer-follow up, question-answer creates lag time and inhibits customer understanding across teams.
One thing we know about the outperformers is that they put the data directly into the hands of those tasked with ideating and executing the changes to the CX. Without widespread access to customer intelligence, there is no scalability and ultimately, no digital transformation.
The ability to understand, and increasingly predict the needs, desires and preferences of digital audiences should belong to everyone who has a stake in CX — from acquisition marketers to content producers to eMerchanders to UX designers to product owners.
Empowering teams around a common language for customer behavior and enabling them to watch firsthand as it evolves, is the only way to guarantee every one of them will be able to design the best possible experiences for your customers.
The Experiences We Deserve
There are no best practices when it comes to experience — there is only what is best for your brand and for your customers right now. Because just as there isn’t one sole way of being convenient, there is no single gold standard for digital customer experience. What customers seek from you is different than what they seek from another company. You have a unique brand value to offer and your experience should reflect the specific relationship you want to cultivate with your customers.
In addition, the perfect customer experience is not a monolithic thing — the perfect experience is the right experience for a given customer at a given time in a given context.
People deserve experiences that reflect their nuances, that are reliably excellent, and that adapt to their fluid context and needs. They deserve experiences that recognize what they need from your company. If you keep that in mind, your team will be able to design experiences that are innovative rather than copycat and that is how you solve for the customer experience gap.
Turning customer experience into an advantage is now critical for business survival. You can step up and do things differently with the help of teams, partners and technology ready to support you. Together, if we listen to the digital signals our customers are sending and empower everyone to act them, we can close the CX gap, and unleash the potential of experience innovation to set up the digital future we really want.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way!