Customer experience has shifted. Brands can no longer use a customer response model. instead it’s a heightened direct marketing model that companies need to adopt, says MercerBell’s Sarah Elsmore.
Customer experience is nothing new. It has evolved from traditional direct marketing, where the relationship was one directional, to a circular relationship, where the balance continues to re-shift as both consumers and organisations gain more knowledge about each other. This two-way relationship simultaneously delivers greater value to the customer and greater profitability to the business.
To succeed in this new marketing landscape, brands need to shift their perspective from one that is driven by profit and efficiency, to one that places the consumer at the heart of all marketing and business decisions. By combining data, technology, strategy and creativity brands can engage customers in meaningful experiences that, in the long-term, are in fact more profitable for the business. Customer experience brings to life the idea that building personal connections with consumers will result in increased value for brands.
Due to the constant, voluminous stream of digital information generated across the Internet, social media, and mobile technologies, the average consumer emits a vast amount of personal information. The challenge is taking a more scientific approach to interpreting, evaluating and implementing insights drawn from customer data.
However, many marketers get bogged down in the ‘promise’ of Big Data and forget that the purpose of collecting and analysing this information is to unearth actionable insights. The goal of marketers should be to sift through this vast amount of information to collect ‘smart data’ that will drive the development of personalised brand experiences. Using this significantly more immersive customer data to enhance the value of the relationship for both the firm and the consumers is the core of the customer experience evolution.
Forrester Research noted that we have entered ‘The Age of the Consumer’ where consumers are profoundly empowered. The customer has more knowledge, and can access more information before they even get to a potential client or service they are about to interact with, and, in return, firms can use customer data to tailor their products and services towards enhancing the consumer experience.
But what does this evolution mean for the future of marketing? Marketers need a greater level of skill in order to maintain pace with the digital world and the changing nature of communication. They must be able to use consumer data and analytics to drive real insights that inform effective strategies. Understanding how to use technology in terms of CRM, data, and social media comes a different level of creativity and strategy.
Technology has transformed the human experience, and enhanced the potential of creative solutions. While customer experience marketing still believes in the power of a great idea, the renaissance of CRM has completely shifted direct marketing from paper-based mail programs to sophisticated data-driven programs that deliver tailored content across multiple digital channels. In this technology–driven, hyper-connected world, the boundaries of creative are limitless.
Customer experience is not as scary and complex as it may seem, it is simply a direct marketing evolution. The organisations that will thrive will be those who embrace these changes and who listen to, and collaborate with, their customers. Most importantly, these organisations will understand that the benefits of possessing a greater knowledge of their consumer can deliver greater value to the customer while simultaneously delivering greater profitability to the business.
Sarah Elsmore is a junior digital strategy planner at MercerBell.