If you aren’t thinking about how to amp up your customer experience for 2017, you’re already behind. Customers are demanding more personalization and they’re making brands pay – by abandoning a brand altogether – if they don’t have a great customer experience at every interaction throughout the buying cycle and across every channel whether physical or virtual. A customer can buy a cup of coffee from basically anywhere.
But what if you give that customer – let’s call him Steve — a personalized experience – allowing him to track and order “Steve’s favorite” blend from his phone with one click? And that click activates the production of “Steve’s favorite” which is waiting for him when he arrives at your shop? And even better, what if you can serve him a coupon for a discount off of a pound of his favorite blend through that same app? That’s a coveted, and caffeinated, customer experience. And it’s possible. Right now.
A recent survey of more than 800 IT and marketing executives showed that while 73 percent of respondents agree that customer loyalty is lost when a company lacks a focused brand experience for consumers, on average companies are only spending 14 percent of their online sales budgets creating that great customer experience for their online customers.
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So, not only can your company build and retain customer loyalty through an improved, invigorated customer experience in 2017, you will likely own a valuable strategic advantage over competitors if you invest in that experience today. Here are five tips to delivering that caffeinated customer experience in 2017.
1. Map the customer journey
In a survey of 4,500 consumers that we recently conducted with research firm Vanson Bourne, consumers were clear – they want speed, convenience, and personalization from the businesses with which they choose to do business. Consumer loyalty will increase with those brands that address their customers’ expectations and consumers will abandon brands that don’t. Choose loyalty instead of the status quo.
Accenture found 81 percent of potential buyers are frustrated when a company doesn’t make it easy to do business, and 53 percent of customers switched providers due to poor service. What’s more, consumers will switch brands if they don’t receive consistent, context-based experiences.
That means to thrive in 2017, your brand must embrace a seamless, connected experience that enables customers to get what they need, right when they need it, regardless of device or engagement channel. Make sure you are present wherever they engage with your brand. And make sure you possess the ability to advance the conversation forward at the speed of internet. Brands that understand the entire customer lifecycle, and see the individual behind the data, will build strong customer relationships and drive brand loyalty.
2. Harness Contextual Intelligence
In 2017, your challenge is to use all of your myriad customer data to its full potential with integrated content and commerce technology to collect, share, and target customers. Enter contextual intelligence, which allows your brand to know how, when, and where your customers are consuming product and web content, so you can engage with them based on their preferences and the sum total of their past interactions and transactions.
Contextual intelligence also allows your brand to collect an individual’s data at scale from a dizzying array of sources in order to understand the unique needs that you can tailor your offerings to address. From searches made on your site, to physical locations, device types, content consumed, purchases made, and campaign interest, your brand can uncover a real-time, comprehensive view of your customers.
3. Get Personal
We know that 78 percent of consumers are more likely to become repeat customers if a brand provides those consumers with personalized offers. That means your company must embrace the data, tools and technology that make it possible to understand customer preferences and deliver personalized experiences that promote customer loyalty.
It’s not enough to just collect contextual data about each individual – the value comes when you can assemble a personalized experience delivered exactly when your customer needs it. Global Beauty brand Revlon does this – allowing online customers to see how cosmetics will look on a photo of themselves they upload – delivering a personalized, virtual, try-before-you-buy experience. This uniquely personal approach impresses the consumer, builds brand loyalty and boosts revenue. And that equals winning.
4. Don’t Miss Mobile
As consumers expect a seamless experience, commerce and content are now combined which means marketers have the opportunity to embrace the full buyer’s journey. In fact, it’s a must according to consumers. A natively integrated commerce and content platform, which aligns a customer’s journey across touch points from pre-purchase to post-purchase, is what brands need to give customers the mobile experience they desire – and require.
Why should you care? More than 3.65 billion people worldwide own a mobile device and 84 percent of consumers search for items on their mobile device before purchasing. A platform that can collect and combine data for contextual intelligence, manage content separately from its presentation so screen size isn’t an issue, and deliver content automatically and in real time across channels is the solution. And trust me, your customers won’t just thank you. They’ll reward you.
5. Simplify that tech stack
Marketers know full well the growing complexity in the marketing tech department. Adding commerce into that equation only concentrates the demand on your IT infrastructure, not to mention on your human capital. With your comprehensive experience map complete, your data model defined, personalization mapped and mobile optimized, it’s now time to take a step back and ensure your tech stack is up to the task of delivering the Caffeinated customer experience for 2017.
With so many systems, data today is often siloed, and no one in marketing, IT or sales can have a holistic view of how one customer is interacting with a brand. Don’t let the technology define the terms but rather demand more from the stack in order to own the experience with your customers.
While there are many ways to approach the challenge, a natively integrated content and commerce platform that pulls contextual intelligence from across channels and automates personalized content delivered out to those same channels in real time and at scale, offers a whopping big competitive advantage. Your business will gain a single unique view of each customer, based on data gathered from every interaction the consumer has from their mobile phone, tablet, computer, or in-person. All this data is stored in a central system and marketers get key insights to deliver the right and relevant content to the right person on the right channel at precisely the right time. Merge your brand and commerce platforms to unlock everything you need to know about a customer’s interaction.
I’m already caffeinated just thinking about 2017. But why wait till then. Consumers are changing their expectations today and doing so at an accelerated pace. Pass me the coffee – it’s time to get work to on evolving the customer experience right now.