June 30, 2022
Being customer-centric is not a new idea, but it’s become an essential priority for modern brands looking to compete. The companies that craft personalised, seamless and engaging experiences are rewarded accordingly, but many fall short of the customer’s ever-increasing standard.
Why? Where does it fall down?
While there are a variety of complex factors that contribute to this theme, more often than not it comes down to an organisation’s inability to patiently and successfully manage the long-term initiative. If you’re going to run the customer experience marathon, this is inevitably what is required.
Improving (let alone transforming) the customer experience often hinges on recognising and appreciating four key points:
For those that are willing to start working diligently and consistently today - the payoff, in time, will be huge.
More so now than ever, curating a compelling customer experience has become worth your attention and investment for two main reasons.
Firstly, the benchmark of quality customer experiences is rising exponentially. The biggest and best brands in the world (think Netflix, Apple, Airbnb) have set the pace for innovation and are reaping the rewards. Customers are willing to pay a 16% price premium on products and services if they’re attached to a phenomenal customer experience¹. The longer organisations stall developing an exceptional customer experience, the more they risk their future.
Secondly, customers have more power and choice than ever before, which has reset their expectations. A recent study from PWC found that 32% of consumers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience1. If you can’t deliver your products and services with a quality experience that supports them, they will go elsewhere…because they can.
Customer experience is the new battleground and if you aren’t committed to exceeding expectations in this area, the repercussions could be significant.
The pursuit of exceptional customer experience isn’t just about risk mitigation, it’s about transforming your organisation from the inside out. 82% of the top-performing companies globally are focused on creating a phenomenal customer experience and they’re looking to create the right mix of culture, technology and talent to do so1. Making investments today will create momentum across your business, setting your organisation up for long-term success.
Taking the customer experience seriously means moving away from one-time transactions and considering the lifetime value of a customer (LTV). Focusing on the customer value over their entire lifetime will give you a better understanding of the customers that are most valuable to you.
Winning their trust has flow-on effects. Not only is it more likely that advocacy from your most loyal customers will lead to higher quality referral leads, but 63% of customers said they’d be more open to sharing their data with organisations that build trust via exceptional customer experiences1.
Brands that nail the customer experience build loyalty with valuable customers, improve retention and subsequently are able to reduce their reliance on acquisition. Simple.
Developing an exceptional customer experience requires coordination across multiple business units. From centralising customer information to establishing the ownership of each customer touchpoint, the pursuit of delivering real value at every stage of the customer journey will ensure your organisation collaborates with more accountability and clarity.
Focusing on CX in your organisation doesn’t just help customers, but it helps staff too. By improving the customer experience there is less pressure on your employees to troubleshoot constant customer issues. A good customer experience empowers your employees to spend more time looking for ways to innovate an even more valuable customer journey.
In a recent Forbes interview, Baker Johnson the CMO of cloud company UJET encouraged customer-focused leaders to “create a process that is better for both customers and employees, and recognise that those investments, like the ones made in sales and marketing departments, have ROI in the form of dollars coming from future and repeat business.”2
When it comes to designing customer experiences that build deep customer relationships, there is no quick fix and it’s not easy. Refocusing the way an organisation views and interacts with a customer can often require a wholesale shift in cultural mindset, not to mention logistical issues.
This is especially true for organisations with complex data and tech requirements, often requiring large investments in capability which are time-consuming and complex to manage.
New processes and operating models may also need to be adjusted to better address customer needs, which could lead to change management issues further down the line
Of course, people management can be tricky too, whether it be senior stakeholders who are resistant to change, team members not having the required skill sets or front-line staff who need to be re-trained. As a result, such a shift invariably takes a long-term, sustained effort and a business-wide commitment.
This is where many organisations fail or veer off track.
And who can blame them, when the average CMO tenure is 40 months3, there isn’t much incentive for leaders to consider the effect of today’s efforts a decade down the line.
Initial inroads are often promising but over time, it can be easy (and all too common) for other short-term business initiatives to be prioritised. What starts as a small and short-term deprioritisation turns into a longer-term dilution of the customer solution and real momentum is lost.
When it comes to maintaining consistent effort over the long term, all of the normal processes and approaches apply:
But one of the most important elements is to have clear phases or ‘horizons’ to show how you will build sophistication, show progress and deliver customer and business outcomes over time.
‘Horizon planning’ is critical to setting up the long-term nature of such an undertaking. Not only does such a plan break down your ambitions into practical stages, it also allows you to focus on quick wins (typically captured in ‘horizon 1’). Immediate improvements that can be made in the short term are vital for establishing early success, momentum and stakeholder goodwill.
Following these achievements, constant focus needs to be applied to the process of optimisation and improvement to ensure longevity. And while there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, every incremental effort will pay dividends down the line. Key stakeholders need to be okay with the idea that they may never see the benefits of their sustained efforts during their tenure with the company.
Curating personalised, seamless and engaging customer experiences in many ways is a never-ending endeavour. But, by playing the long game and staying committed, your brand will be able to look back in years to come and reap the rewards of a more engaged, profitable and satisfied customer base.
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If you’re looking to build engagement at every touchpoint of your customer’s journey, we’d like to help.