Delivering exceptional customer experience can result in escalated sales and strengthened loyalty. It’s what every company strives for, so why are so many customers still disappointed?
Call it an implementation disconnect: companies tout the latest technologies without focusing enough on the experience spectrum, or maybe it's the result of a limited understanding of what it takes to deliver truly rewarding experiences.
Many companies are beginning to accept the importance of speed, relevance, convenience and consistency for improving customer experience, but content still baffles most. Content's role is no longer limited to attracting prospects — in fact that is merely where it starts. From awareness to consideration to decision and final purchase, content creates the foundation on which the tower of experience is built.
The Content-Driven Experience Era
Ever-advancing technologies have made customers more perceptive and demanding, while at the same time increasing pressure on companies to adapt on the go and stay proactive in delivery. Now that customers interact with brands through a myriad of touchpoints and multiple channels, customer experiences have become more social in nature. As a result, what was once considered a transactional activity — the purchasing journey — has evolved into a content-driven experience.
Content is now associated throughout the product life cycle and runs alongside data in delivering an optimal experience. By putting your content front and center, you can actively engage with your customers and address their concerns.
Here are five key market developments that depict the onset of the content-driven experience era:
1. Complete Control Over Buying Journey Is the New Norm
From triggering demands to purchase patterns — it is all about engineering events in the customer journey. Merely providing a superior product priced within reach of target buyers won’t cut it anymore. Customer experiences are no longer conventional, straight paths to purchase, but events that happen in a nonlinear fashion. Customers are more commonly placing a premium on how they are treated, how brands interact with them, and how the overall experience of making a purchase affects them. So, whether it is a long-closure B2B contract or a transactional B2C purchase, businesses need to focus on truly personalized engagement with strategically planned content every step of the way.
2. Customers Want More — Raw Data Won't Cut It
Meaningful experiences require a high degree of authenticity. Customers today prefer to experience products and services instead of simply buying them. They want more information about what they are buying, and they want it in the best way possible. Simple information and unarticulated datasheets attached with the product placement will not generate demand or create an impression.
The solution is deriving meaning out of data and figures to make everything conversational. Professionally developed content is the perfect vehicle for delivering rich, relevant information about your company and your service proposition to your customers. Educating, delighting and providing usefulness is a new way to enrich interactions at every stage of the buying journey.
3. Agility Matters More Than Speed
Reaching your audience quickly does not suffice if not backed with agile strategies and the capability to deliver flexibly. An agile business strategy or mindset focuses on customer intelligence rather than quick wins and helps businesses move toward greater customer-centricity. It acts as a linchpin for delivering the right customer experiences and enabling businesses to adapt and learn as new challenges come forward and new information becomes available. Agility also helps enterprises move forward by delivering before things have changed again rather than getting tied to a list of features. Creating an impact on the target audience means adjusting to the customer’s needs and reorienting to maximum agility.
This is just the start though. Embracing agility requires a marriage between business and technology strategies.
4. Platform-Agnosticism and Omnichannel Customer Presence
Customer experience goes beyond the shopping cart — both in store and online. There are so many connects that come before and after a sale, which make an enormous difference in whether a business retains customers or loses them to competitors. Information consumption should be channel independent, where messaging and communication remains consistent for every channel. In other words, content should flow seamlessly across devices and platforms. It is the atomic particle of marketing. Without it, there is nothing to fill the websites, blogs, emails or social media platforms. It is therefore a brand's responsibility to know customers well enough to create not just appropriate content, but to do so on the right channels, at the right time.
5. Personalization Adds the Finishing Touch
We are in that age of personalization where marketing speaks to the audience directly. Ability to convey the right message to the right customer in the right context differentiates a good campaign from the rest. As a result, experiences need to be continuously tailored according to customer needs and priorities. Analytics, such as customer intelligence, user profiling and behavioral data gathering, play a big part in delivering these personalized customer experiences.
Content has historically been treated as an intermediate or a final output, rather than an essential element of the marketing process. Indeed, it most commonly referred to elaborate descriptions of products and their features. However, given the ease with which information can be digitally published and shared today, companies are changing their perspectives around this.
Today, businesses operate and grow in a so-called relationship era, where it’s all about experiences, and specifically experiences that are content-driven. Content today needs to be strategic since it has become an integral component of marketing in business operations. It can be used as a megaphone tool for companies to amplify their message, values and expertise all the while casting a wide net, where prospects can interact with the brand from a non-committal stance and still gather important information. And this is just the start. As modes of communication further evolve, content will continue to impact customer experience in more ways than we can imagine.