"The most disruptive thing in the market is not technology, but rather the customer," proclaimed Salesforce Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist Tiffani Bova's Twitter header – and she's dead right. It's time for businesses of all sizes to focus on the customer experience if they hope to retain customers and grow their brands.
They must do so while recognizing that the experience customers desire is quite different than it used to be. Though offline tactics matter — as always — the digital experience is also important. And that's where a lot of companies drop the ball.
Here are five customer experience strategies to move you forward:
1. Worry Less About Price
Decreasing your prices might get you a short-term client or sale, but ultimately if the experience is lacking, consumers will spend their money elsewhere. Customer journey research by Avanade found that 56 percent of enterprise customers pay more to receive a superior customer experience — and are willing to pay up to 30 percent more.
It's the "you get what you pay for" mentality.
Instead of "giving it away" to appeal to consumers, focus on providing a personal experience they can't get elsewhere. That is what will have them coming back to you — not the opportunity to save a few bucks.
2. Look at the Big Picture
If you've been lacking in one area — particularly in the digital realm — it's easy to get fixated on that area, to the exclusion of everything else. But that's no solution, because the entire consumer journey is important.
"The goal is to create a consistent customer experience across all touch points that meets or exceeds the standard you have set in terms of what you want to deliver," according to Client Heartbeat.
Decide what you want your consumer experience to be, and deliver that at every turn.
3. Make the Most of Your Website
Your website isn't just a showroom — or it shouldn't be. It's a communications channel, and one that consumers will use most as they're considering a purchase of goods or services. This is a mindset change that small businesses especially can benefit from making.
According to the Wasp Small Business Report, only "49 percent of small business websites allow visitors to reach sales or customer service." If you don't want to lose customers to larger competitors — or even other small businesses — you've got to make it easy for them to get information, in whatever way they prefer. And as that's likely to be via mobile devices, be sure your site is mobile friendly too.
4. Change the Way You Use Social Media
When social media started gaining popularity, businesses naturally saw a prime channel for promotion. And social media is that — but only if you understand social media is ruled by consumers, not marketers. To make the most of it, you've got to connect with consumers and engage them based on their interests and passions — not market "at" them.
Additionally, social media efforts must include customer service. This is something SMBs and enterprises alike still need to embrace as not all of them have made social customer service a priority. Meanwhile, consumers are taking to social media more often to vent their displeasure.
Buffer reports, "Sixty-seven percent of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for customer service. Forty-two percent of consumers expect a response within 60 minutes."
This supports the argument for good social listening software — as you can't fix what you don't know about. And if you don't get back to a customer quickly enough, you leave the door open for a watchful competitor to solve the problem instead.
5. Make it Personal
It almost goes without saying, but let's say it anyway: Personalization is everything. According to HubSpot, "A more personalized experience for your prospects and customers that caters to their individual problems, interests, needs, and wants is a sure-fire way to keep people coming back for more."
Data should drive your personalization efforts, but remember: Let the data lead, but don't be afraid to be creative so you'll stand out with consumers — in the right way.
With the perfect blend of digital strategies and offline tactics, your brand has the cohesion necessary to streamline and elevate the experience you offer. Make it one worth repeating, and consumers will go out of their way to do just that.