“The customer is always right.”
– Harry Gordon Selfridge, 1909
Sales is no longer a door-to-door business; you don’t get to ring the doorbell and tell customers they need you anymore. Now, they’re coming to your door, and if they don’t like what they see, they move on. So, how do you ensure they see the value in what you offer?
You have to understand their expectations not just of your offerings, but of their entire experience with your brand — from discovery to customer care. That means that “sales” can no longer stand apart from “marketing” or “service.” These silos must converge and create a continuous, intelligent customer experience (CX). Read on for steps you can take toward meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
1. Rethink where your CX begins.
Companies often consider the start of the customer journey to be the purchase, or even the point of contact for support. What they don’t realize is that designing the experience from those points closes the door on a world of opportunities. Today’s customer expects an informed journey from the point of need — one that starts before they’re even a customer.
Optimize your marketing and website content. As ConversionXL reminds us on its blog: “79 percent of the people don’t read online, they just skim.” So, make sure your content is clear, concise and relevant. Increase your visibility by expanding your content offerings. Reach more consumers with thought leadership articles, search engine optimization, social media engagement and incentive programs for sharing your brand.
The key to elevating your brand during discovery is to educate and engage from the moment they click “Search” or activate their digital assistant.
2. Create more ways to buy.
In a recent article for Forbes.com, former SVP of Strategy & Multichannel Marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group Steve Dennis posited that the e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar war is fizzling. “For consumers, it’s simply ‘commerce,’” he says, “and retailers that want to thrive … need to fully embrace a one brand, many channels strategy.”
The more ways there are to buy, the easier you make it to do so. Whether it’s a free shipping flash sale on your website; a “click to refill” reminder from a pharmacy app; or an option to shop and pay from home, then pick up your purchases at the store, more choices makes you more available to more customers.
Customers expect convenience at the point of purchase — from the store, their couch or on the go — and meeting that expectation is paramount.
3. Embrace evolving technologies.
Successfully navigating the digital transformation of the customer experience means that the journey is seamless, whether they interact with your brand digitally or physically. Innovations in technology are constantly moving us toward that reality and should never be underestimated — as evidenced by Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report which reveals the dramatic effect that the increase of voice recognition capabilities to 95 percent accuracy has had on sales of digital assistant products.
And it’s no different when it comes to innovations in the customer care arena:
• Cloud-based service-delivery platforms: Systems like OneSYKES enable and encourage collaboration, simplify scheduling management, provide access to brand/product content, and measure and analyze performance in one consistent, virtual platform. All these elements and more add up to a more positive and intelligent experience for both customers and agents.
• Data labeling: Support interactions — voice, chat, social, self-serve web content, etc. — create a wealth of data. Once that data is labeled, it becomes fuel for the systems that provide customer service agents with the information they need to support customers.
• Machine learning: Advanced algorithms leverage labeled data sets to recognize patterns in the interactions and provide corresponding solutions. As customer issues change or new patterns appear, the system adjusts, learning from the new information and improving its solutions.
• Process automation: Automating simple support tasks provides convenience for the customer while reducing agent time spent processing menial issues. This creates a workflow that routes more complex issues to an agent (the “human-in-the-loop”) while a bot or process engine is handling minor issues.
• Intelligent routing: Integration of software like SYKES’ Clearlink uses interaction data in real time to connect a customer with the most appropriate support channel. Such technology can identify the device the interaction originated from, what browser and keywords the customer used to initiate support, what issue-related web content the customer has already accessed, their level of comfort/understanding, overall sentiment, etc. This information is then processed to make sure the customer gets the appropriate solution from the most efficient channel for their specific issue.
These advancements, along with innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), bots and more, are rapidly propelling companies that embrace them toward the seamless, intelligent CX that customers expect.
4. Collect, analyze, improve, repeat.
Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to grow. With the information and technology available to us today, there’s very little standing in the way of companies being able to exceed customer journey expectations — especially if we’re constantly working to improve the experience.
When it comes to harnessing every bit of data each interaction produces and using it to fuel your CX strategy, choose a strategic partner that optimizes the convergence of marketing, sales and service. Creating an informed journey starts with discovery and results in loyal customers advocating for your brand. Everything in between relies on the data collected and how it’s leveraged to make the experience with your brand something customers enjoy and want to be a part of — at every possible touchpoint.
Maybe Walt Disney said it best:
“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again, and bring their friends.”