Imagine your internet is down and you need to raise a service request. Compare two scenarios: In scenario A, you dial up the customer care number, go through numerous interactive voice response options and wait for a customer service executive to register your complaint. The entire process takes anywhere between five minutes and an hour, depending on call volume.
In scenario B, you log in to the company’s customer service portal on your mobile, register your service request from a list of dropdown menu options and select a convenient time for the engineer visit. The entire process takes roughly two minutes. You can even do basic troubleshooting on your own through the portal before you schedule an engineer visit.
Which of the two scenarios sounds more convenient? If you are like most people who are comfortable with digital experiences, you will pick scenario B. And that’s the customer experience differentiator, in a nutshell.
What is Customer Experience, Though?
Customer experience goes beyond call centers, chatbots and complaint resolution. It is how customers perceive your brand across the entire buyer journey. Think about the last time you purchased something online and how you felt. That’s customer experience. It is the sum of everything that goes into converting visitors into customers and loyalists: the product or service, attention to detail, personalization and customer service.
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Numbers Don’t Lie: Why Customer Experience Matters For Digital Success
According to a 2019 Salesforce report, more than 80% of customers think the experience is just as important as the products or services a company provides. In a post-pandemic world, much of this experience will likely be digital. Lockdowns around the world have shifted consumer behavior. Digital is now the first choice for many consumers and the shift is expected to stay.
People’s expectations from businesses have also shifted since the Covid-19 outbreak. Trust is a huge factor for people when buying a new brand or becoming a loyalist. Personalization, a key customer experience strategy, goes a long way in building trust. Some of the most trusted brands out there use personalization, social listening and data-driven strategies to build consumer trust.
Digital Transformation And Customer Experience: The Connection
The Netflix versus Blockbuster story on digital transformation encapsulates the importance of keeping the customer in mind when undertaking digital transformation efforts. Blockbuster deployed analytics to improve its margins. Netflix, on the other hand, deployed analytics to personalize content recommendations for its users. History is a testament to who won that battle. Amazon is one of the biggest examples of putting customers first. Its “customer obsession” strategy is often touted as a big factor in its success.
How To Transform Customer Experience For Digital Success
Before you can transform your customer experience, it is important to first measure it. Deploy social listening tools to see what customers are saying about your brand online. Analyze customer support tickets and identify any trends. Study customer satisfaction surveys with the help of data analytics tools and see whether there are areas that you are consistently scoring high or low on.
Once you have a qualitative understanding of your current customer experience, use the following strategies to elevate it.
• Empathize: Listen to what your customers want. Find creative ways to alleviate their pain points. For example, e-commerce returns can be cumbersome. Stitch Fix, a clothing company, provides a prepaid return label with every order. If customers need to return anything, they can simply pack up the items, put the label on the package and mail it back. All the returns are free. By making the process of returning items easy, Stitch Fix manages to build trust, which likely translates to repeat customers. Customers have the peace of mind that even if the product is not up to their expectations, returning it is simple.
• Observe: Look around you and spot bad customer experiences. Use them as inspiration to elevate your brand’s customer experience and build a differentiator. For example, deleting your Instagram account is a hassle. You can’t do it from the app. You need to log in from a mobile browser or computer, provide a reason for why you want to delete your account, and wait at least 30 days before it is actually deleted. It is like a boyfriend who won’t let you break up. Now, if you are running a niche social media app, make it simpler for users to take a break. You could even take it up a notch and encourage users to take frequent breaks using pop-ups and notifications. YouTube, for instance, lets users configure alerts for when they have been on the platform for too long.
• Use Data and AI: Companies are already using artificial intelligence to unlock new levels of personalization and segmentation of customers. Products such as Salesforce 360 have built-in machine learning for smart segmentation, making the job of marketers even easier. Personalizing marketing messages is the most obvious use of data analytics, but I don’t think that’s enough. Use data to identify areas in your buyers’ journey that can be improved. Maybe the checkout process of your e-commerce store is not straightforward enough. Too many abandoned carts might be a telltale sign of this. Or maybe you are lacking in customer support and deploying an AI-enabled chatbot will help.
For Great Customer Experience: An Agile Approach And Out-Of-The-Box Thinking
The most competitive companies out there are increasingly adopting an iterative approach to customer experience design. Build, test, repeat until you start getting desired results. An agile approach also allows you to test really out-there ideas and test their viability. Maybe your e-commerce store can benefit from augmented reality solutions; or maybe your insurance company needs to focus on a self-service portal that allows customers to apply for insurance, track their premiums and file claims from their mobile phone without interacting with any employee.
Use data and your imagination to elevate your customers’ experience for digital success.