The ‘age of the customer’ is upon us. Not since the consumer bill of rights have businesses faced the current level of pressure to adapt and reorient their strategy with customers in mind. This time, the impetus isn’t government regulation—it’s the unprecedented access to information granted by new technologies.
Customers can compare pricing in real time, determine an organization’s commitment to social issues, and chat with representatives at any time of day (or night). On top of that, customers expect seamless digital experiences; the easier it is to access information, the more positively consumers will view the information’s source.
And while some companies will see this paradigm shift as a bane to their bottom line, future industry leaders will shed their myopia.
In fact, the three most important statistics to consider in 2019 position the ‘age of the customer’ as an exciting opportunity:
Plain and simple, catering to consumer preferences will grow your bottom line—not shrink it. So how do you take advantage of this amazing (and urgent) opportunity? Begin by developing a top-down strategy, creating a culture of listening and transparency, and implementing personalization across all channels.
Enterprises know that customer experience (CX) is important, but they don’t always act like it. A 2017 study found that 86% of B2B CMOs consider customer experiences to be very important, yet 57% of them reported their CX performance results are poor (Accenture). That’s an important gap. Companies recognize the value of CX, but they aren’t successfully improving it. The cause of this gap is usually a lack of interdepartmental buy-in and coordination.
A company may have 50 CX projects running concurrently, but too often, these teams aren’t communicating or collaborating. Channels are managed separately and each channel owner only analyzes their own tracking data. The result is a disjointed customer journey, where users travel from social media channels to websites to phone conversations and receive different messaging each time.
Combatting this fragmented customer experience isn’t as easy as assigning a task force to bring different teams in line. It requires top-down strategy changes that are communicated to every corner of the business, from C-level decision makers to front-line service reps and everyone in between. Implement training for all employees to coordinate messaging and goals. Appoint a customer experience manager with the authority to bridge siloed departments. These are the first steps to turning CX into a competitive advantage, especially considering more than two thirds of organizations don’t have an executive on the board accountable for CX (Dimension Data).
Finally, remember that the best customer experience strategy leaves room for constant evolution and improvement. Too many companies implement a great CX project, then leave it alone for two to three years. We advise our clients to continuously maintain and update elements of the customer experience so that they’re always at the forefront of CX innovation.
Feedback and transparency are central to effective CX programs. You won’t know how to design an experience customers will enjoy without asking the customers what they are looking for. And general industry statistics aren’t enough. A telecom company that targets rural demographics, for example, wouldn’t design the same customer experience as an urban-centric competitor.
Employ customer satisfaction surveys, data analytics, and social media tracking to find out exactly what your target market expects and prefers. Involve front-line workers in the strategy process to get specific details of how customers are interacting with your products and where they feel the experience could be improved. Finally, act on this feedback. 95% of companies have collected feedback from their customers for years; only 10% use these suggestions to change their processes and improve customer experience (Gartner).
The second communication strategy that CX leaders apply is transparency. Gone are the days of hidden fees and deceptive rules. Think Blockbuster—people didn’t move to Netflix because they preferred their movies mailed to them, they moved because they were exhausted by late fees and poor communication. Since the financial crisis, transparency has become even more important. Customers are more wary to trust big business than ever. By being honest and open about policies and guidelines, you can begin to build a trust relationship with your customers, improving loyalty and customer lifetime value while generating positive word of mouth.
New tech empowers businesses as much as consumers. Never have we been able to collect and act on as much personal data as we can today. The trick is to carefully manage how you scale this capability. To customize messaging poorly is worse than not customizing at all. 73% of consumers cited not being able to trust a company with the personal information that’s been provided as a top source of frustration (Accenture). Remember when Target knew a teenager was pregnant before her parents did and sent her family coupons for maternity clothing?
Personalization done right saves customers time, makes them feel important, and builds a trusting relationship between them and your brand. Personalization done wrong is just plain creepy—and your bottom line will respond.
It’s past time to begin thinking about customer experience, but it’s never too late to improve your CX capabilities. Our consultants work with companies every day—from small ISVs to established enterprises—to help strategize and execute digital transformations and customer experience improvements. It’s all about building a reliable bridge to the latest business technologies and practices. The goal should be to overhaul your CX strategy, and we’ll help you get there in measured steps, drawing on a wealth of experience in digital transformation.
Start with a top-down strategy. Involve every employee in your customer experience plan. And improve your digital capabilities so that you can listen to customers and deliver the products they want through the channels they’re on.
Start with a workshop with Pyramid Consulting. We’ll assess your current CX, identify opportunities for improvement, and support you all the way to launch.