In this opinion piece, The Customer Experience Company’s Laurence Crew (pictured below) explores the new customer-centric approach to marketing, and how you can make the most of it.
There’s been a huge transition in businesses occurring over the past three years, with large companies shifting their teams, titles and structures to reflect a new focal area within businesses: customer experience.
The newfound responsibility reflects the changing nature of the modern marketplace, the implications of which have increased the responsibility for marketers, and shifted the company’s focus towards a customer-centric approach to survive.
We are witnessing the rise of the customer experience officer (CXO), with a 2014 Gartner survey revealing customer experience is now the number one expectation placed on marketing executives by their CEOs.
Budget shifts from advertising to delivering better product or service experiences means that marketers need to be positioned to drive change and lead the growth of customer experience, build satisfaction and customer understanding – a huge responsibility, as 89 per cent of businesses are expected to compete and acquire new customers and retain existing customers based mainly on customer experience, according to a 2016 Gartner survey.
Marketers need to understand that their role has changed, and there is now a constant 24/7 conversation between customers, brands, marketers and service teams. For CXOs, CMOs and people building their career in the marketing sphere, this is the opportunity to create a customer experience that will keep your customer.
Don’t assume you know what your customers want
Research is vitally important in developing an experience that resonates with the customer, but the type of research that informs customer experience is different from typical market research. While market research may focus on customer attitudes, preferences and identity, customer experience research is grounded in needs, tasks and interactions.
By understanding ‘mental models’ – how your customers imagine the workings of the world – you can design your products and service experiences so that they feel natural to the consumer. By observing the struggle of the customer with the current product experience, you can uncover needs they are unable to articulate in a focus group or survey.
If you get the experience right through careful observation followed by ideation, prototyping, testing and iteration, you will invoke the right kinds of emotions that ultimately drive advocacy.
Market internally to set the tone
Marketing internally is just as important as externally. Happy employees lead to happier customers, stronger brand reputation and greater trust in the company. The employees, their interactions and communications within the business and with the outside world are crucial for the customer experience. Effective internal engagement could lead to happy and engaged employees, and aligning your internal messaging with your external messaging leads to a better customer experience, increased retention and overall increased successes.
Without control or influence within the business, and how the business strategy is delivered to the consumers, marketers will ultimately fail at the responsibility to control the customer experience.
Customers cost less to maintain and retain, than to mass gain
Deliver on your promise. If you guarantee a superior product or service, be prepared to deliver on that declaration. There shouldn’t be a shortfall between what your customer expects and what they get.
There is more pressure on businesses to deliver in today’s competitive landscape. The modern consumer is savvier, sniffing out the best deals and able to switch products and make way for alternatives with ease. According to Gartner, 65 per cent of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied.
Costing more to acquire customers than retain, a focus on the customer experience is instrumental in the success of the marketing strategy.
Bad news travels fast
If the business – specifically, the marketing department – doesn’t focus on the customer experience, they aren’t focusing on obtaining a competitive advantage or a future. It’s not an option for marketers not to focus on the customer experience. The choice of an alternative product or service and the competitiveness in almost every industry means the customers will leave. News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs (2011).
The new breed of marketer is one that focuses on customer experience and every single touch point, action and reaction throughout a customer journey. It’s all in the gory details of focusing on the end-to-end experience and every touch point in between.
Marketers, welcome your newfound love and focus on the customer experience, because experience is the new marketing.