The modern customer is more connected and, in most cases, more informed than ever before. They are more likely to shop around and are influenced not just by the products on offer, but also by their experience of the companies they purchase from.
Indeed, a recent survey by Walker found that by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. It also found that 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. Emotional and rational shoppers will engage head and heart, which can be to the detriment or benefit of organisations. Building brand loyalty is important and getting a positive emotional response from a customer will boost profits. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.
“86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience”
A negative support or customer service incident sees many customers reaching for Twitter or Facebook rather than contacting the supplier through normal channels. Customer service interactions over Twitter have increased by 250 percent in the past two years. The Touch Agency says that roughly 80 percent of these tweets are negative or critical. This is because some customers assume that they will not get the desired response from companies unless they stir things up publicly and highlight their complaint more widely. The threat of a complaint “going viral” has led companies to focus more seriously on customer service. How you handle this type of interaction is critical if you want to maintain a good reputation and placate the emotional response rather than inflaming it.
“On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase”
There are many tools around that can help organisations to improve their customers’ experience and ensure that interactions with the company are positive for both sides. Marketing Automation (MA) and Customer Experience (CX) (alongside traditional Customer Relationship Management) can ensure that you are analysing each customer’s every move and that you are maximising every opportunity or touch point with them.
Marketing Automation enables you to fully tailor your message and approach to sell to the individual, with customised content and call to actions that are more likely to convert prospects into hot leads. But understanding what message to give and how the customer is likely to react to it is not easy with MA alone. Sure, you can look at data over a period of time and make a reasonable judgement as to how customers will respond, even at an individual level, but this does not give you the full picture at an emotional level. Marketing Automation does, however, go a long way towards enabling organisations to automate processes and plan for every step of the sales cycle.
Typical marketing automation features include:
- Lead scoring – which enables both marketing and sales to see the hottest prospects and customers based on their behaviour and interactions with you
- Lead nurturing – which defines the customer journey and automates it as much as possible with triggered campaigns that take prospects and customers further down the sales cycle
- Targeted campaigns – which send the right message at the right time to the right person, often triggered by the defined lead scoring and nurturing process
- CRM integration – which passes data from your website to the MA tool to your CRM database and back again.
CX helps organisations to understand how their customers feel about their brand and their interaction experiences. It takes information from every step of the customer journey, it gives you predictive analysis for future interactions and sets a barometer for the likelihood of future purchases. The process of gathering this often-complex data can also be married with CRM, ITSM and ERP data to gain a holistic view that, in essence, enables you to build a clearer picture of not only your ideal customer, but also their likely emotional response to new business strategy and direction or a new product range.
Typical CX features include:
- Comprehensive data collection – email, online, SMS, telephone, voice and text
- Unification of data – which turns data sources into detailed reports and actionable information
- Case management – which enables organisations to react immediately to customer issues and avoid further problems.
These tools are great, but how far can these help in isolation of each other? Customer experience and customer service require joined-up thinking. It is no use gaining information and data on a certain aspect of the customer experience and it not being shared across the whole business.
The technologies outlined give you the ability to personalise your approach and help to maintain that engagement. Organisations will be focusing more and more on customer experience as consumers become more and more savvy. Emotional sales and marketing needs to be a rational and evidence-based process that truly links into all aspects of your business. Only by understanding your customers’ wants and needs at the emotional level will you be able to truly adapt your business model to meet their requirements.