- Consumers buy experiences, not just products. By providing a unique, personalized experience, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and increase customer loyalty.
- Wanna hang out? Building relationships with customers is crucial in creating positive experiences. Companies should focus on engaging with customers and understanding their needs and preferences, as well as providing excellent customer service.
- Tech's not the focus. Technology plays a key role in enhancing the customer experience, but it should be used strategically to complement the overall experience rather than being the focus. Businesses should aim to create a seamless, omnichannel experience for customers.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, marketing leaders are accountable for revenue impact and for bringing together the many elements of the customer journey needed to get there. And one way they can do this is through their holistic view of the customer.
Every Step Along the Way of the Customer Journey
Marketing brings together every touchpoint the customer has during their journey with your organization — for example, your thought leadership content, website, emails, webinars, demos, sales calls and all the onboarding, support and customer success processes.
All of these touchpoints, all of these little experiences, combine to create the larger experience, reinforce the brand and establish your value.
Customer experience is not just a B2C thing anymore. It’s also an important opportunity for B2B. The customer experience for both B2B and B2C is central to the task of generating revenue. It improves three key metrics:
- Customer acquisition.
- Customer retention.
- Expansion of business through cross-sell and upsell.
This stabilizes your revenue base, increases the customer’s lifetime value and creates evangelists who spread the word and attract more customers.
Customer Engagement Efforts in a Changed World
Today’s approach involves online and offline efforts. One reason, of course, is that COVID-19 has changed so much — including how we do business. Customers are now more willing to accept digital as normal. But you can’t just bring things back to exactly how they were.
And that’s a positive thing. Because the customers aren’t the same as they were pre-COVID, they have changed. You need to change with them. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on a vast opportunity to reevaluate your marketing efforts, consider how you can stand out from your competition in this new environment and find new ways to get things done.
Apply this thinking to your vertical as a marketer and see if you can turn this change into a competitive advantage at every point of the buyer’s journey.
Related Article: Customer Journey Mapping: A How-To Guide
Making a Point — a Touchpoint — Along the Customer Journey
At every touchpoint, the experience needs to be:
- Consistent. Can you coordinate across all channels to remain on message and on brand?
- Personalized. Can you customize the experience based on each customer’s unique history and context?
- Timely. Can you give the customer the experience they need when they need it, at each stage of their journey?
- Relevant. Can you measure the meaningfulness of your content to determine whether it’s driving engagement and creating action?
- Seamless. Can you track, recognize and follow the customer across the omnichannel?
- Frictionless. Can the customer complete their journey effortlessly, or do they experience frustration, disconnection and confusion?
What does that journey look like? How does it flow? On paper, it can appear logical and linear. But in reality, it might look more like a meandering river, with multiple turns, diversions and splits as it flows to its endpoint.
To answer those questions, we have developed a customer engagement value model, which connects the system of record to a system of action that gradually builds a 360-degree view of the customer while delivering a meaningful and compelling experience.
Which customer actions can you track in your marketing and engagement activities? Do you have a system that follows up each customer action with a “next step” that takes them further on their journey? Or are you asking the customer to reenter duplicate data with too many touchpoints?
Here’s an example we’ve likely all endured: calling customer support for cell phone service.
As you request support, generally, they make you reenter or reiterate the data each time. Even though you’re calling your cell phone provider, from your phone, on their account, on their network, they ask you repeatedly to enter data that they already have. Of course, some verification is needed, but we've all felt this while on hold: Why? Why are you asking me for the same things over and over and over again?
In this example and in so many others, the company has made their customer or prospect jump through more hoops than necessary.
Related Article: How to Make the Customer Journey More Data Driven
Anticipating Needs Before the Customer Does
Situations like these show why a better customer journey is paramount, but we need to go beyond eliminating duplicate contacts or personalizing email subject lines.
By building a growth engine that is set up to steward data responsibly, collect data diligently at every touchpoint, share that data across the organization and use it to drive meaningful action, we can deliver exceptional customer experiences. We can build a journey that not only supports real-time reactions to individual customer needs but also proactively identifies and addresses needs the customer hasn’t yet fully articulated.
Marketing gets us close to the customer. And when marketing has the right data tools and systems in place, we can get even closer to the ideal customer experience.
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