Everybody is talking about customer experience (CX), but like many other hot industry terms, it can mean different things to different people. I like the Wikipedia definition: “Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences during their experience.”
Marketing definitely has a significant role in supporting each of these components. But the old adage that marketing gets the customer and customer service keeps the customer is overstated. A reputation for great service can help the company get customers and marketing has an important role in keeping them.
In late June, I had the pleasure of spending a long day with some of the brightest minds in the customer experience industry at the CustomerThink retreat. While most of the participants were deeply involved in the CX field, I was the only one who spent his career entirely on the marketing side of the equation. The more I listened to these bright individuals, the more I realized that if we revenue-generation types don’t get it right, customer support isn’t going to have a chance to repair broken relationships.
To put this another way, their job isn’t to clean up our mess but rather to extend the good work we are already doing and turn it into intensely loyal customers and profitable revenue.
There are dozens of ways that you can empower marketing to contribute to optimized CX. Below are seven ideas to get you started.
- Put out the welcome mat.
The very beginning of the customer journey consists of the initial experience each individual sees and hears from your company. This could be a print, broadcast or online advertisement, an email, or your website. Or, it could be someone at the other end of a phone call or a person you meet at a trade show. Regardless, the first impression carries through the relationship and you need to make sure this is positive and professional.
- Make the buying journey pleasant and fruitful.
In my post titled, The Evolving Journey of the B2B Buyer, I related a number of statistics about how much of the buying process is conducted before and after sales engagement. Offer your buyers a pleasant, intuitive and productive experience and most importantly, remove all impediments to purchase, especially these Six Barriers That Prevent Revenue Growth.
- Set the right expectations.
We marketers have a tendency to exaggerate. When it comes to customers’ feelings about their experience – they are based on expectations as much as reality. They do not expect the same ambiance, service and food quality from a fast food joint as they do from a Michelin-starred restaurant, but regardless, you had better meet or exceed their expectations. The point is to give them an experience that is congruent with what you told them and what they anticipated from doing business with you.
- Communicate with the right frequency.
By this, I mean that you should not overwhelm your prospects and customers with a constant stream of unwanted sales messages. Also, this may seem a bit intuitive but I recommend that you cut down on the number of surveys you ask customers to fill out as well as the number of questions you ask on each survey. The incremental value of the data collected from the last few questions might not be worth the aggravation it costs your customers. In fact, noted data scientist Bob Hayes, believes that you can often learn what you need to know from asking just one question – assuming it is the right question!
- Create and maintain the right tone.
By this, I mean that you should figure out the attributes of your company voice (e.g. professional, responsive, fun—and apply them in a consistent manner. As well-known customer service and experience expert Shep Hykenstated in a recent article, the three keys to customer experience success are consistency, consistency and consistency.
- Take advantage of the “service recovery paradox.”
This allows you to increase customer loyalty even after a service incident. As a recent article from CX technology expert Seth Wilson explains, “The secret to customer experience (CX) and customer loyalty (CL) is not to create an environment where mistakes never happen. This is great to strive for but an impossible standard to achieve. Instead, we want to foster an atmosphere where when inevitable mistakes occur, they are resolved so that the customer is more likely to buy from the company again.”
- Provide better customer service by providing less customer service.
Before telling me that I am off my rocker (it wouldn’t be the first time), my message is that you should design your buying, ongoing and usage processes in such a way that customers/clients can be happy with your products or services without the need to engage you after the sale…unless of course they want to buy more!
Always keep in mind that customers will judge you not by what you say to them but rather for what you do for them. You need to walk your CX talk and consistently meet or exceed expectations. Happy customers buy more and encourage their friends and colleagues to do the same.