Selling a product or service that satisfies a customer and responding to their request in a timely manner are two necessary but insufficient conditions for really standing out from your growing competition.
Beyond the traditional references of customer service or customer relations in marketing, it’s actually the notion of customer experience that stands out today.
Customer experience includes all of the interactions between the brand and the customer, whether we’re talking about a purchase, contact with a call center, a TV ad, an in-store interaction, etc.
This set of interactions gives the customer a general feeling and an impression of the brand, positive or negative.
Therefore, a good customer experience strategy includes several facets.
A brand must perfect not only the cognitive dimension of its offer, or in other words, the arguments that call for a customer’s rationality (good quality/price, quality customer service, etc.), but also the affective aspect, in order to create a more emotional attachment to the brand.
Customer experience inherently includes a conative dimension, impacting the customer’s behavior and intention to make a purchase.
Customer Experience: What are the latest trends?
Improving customer experience constitutes a constant and ongoing challenge. Optimizing the customer purchase journey, whether online or in-store, is one of the main trends in customer experience.
The goal is to make the act of purchasing simpler and more intuitive, and to limit customer attrition. The customer journey and the customer experience therefore maintain a close relationship.
Many customer services consider this a real opportunity for the automation of addressing low value-added requests without sacrificing quality, in order to set aside more time for high value-added cases.
There are many changes to be expected in the realm of the personalization of customer experience.
The concept of a 360° client view or even the emergence of “feel data” allows for a close monitoring of the customer’s emotional state, representing one of the most promising advances.
Customer autonomy is an aspect to never lose sight of in a time when customers are thirsty for independence.
In terms of mobile customer service trends, several functionalities, like geolocalization or messaging, will continue to revolutionize many practices and lead to a real improvement of digital customer experience.
The notion of "responsive design" has existed for several years, but today we talk more about “mobile-first.”
If the development of a dynamic and smart FAQ is underway, it’s essential that the solution — while integrating a key component of natural referencing — is mobile friendly.
How to differentiate your company from the competition thanks to customer experience?
The more unique and memorable the experience, the more of a competitive advantage it has.
Differentiation through customer experience requires simple and well-known formulas, which once applied correctly, will provide positive results.
The reactivity and availability of call centers will continue to be the cornerstone of customer satisfaction, just like the company’s ability to personalize customer treatment at every request.
In the same way, the precise identification of all the key steps of the digital customer journey will allow you to detect the weak spots in your organization, as well as to save time — and money — wherever it’s possible to shorten delays.
Customer loyalty will be that much more simple to obtain once you’ve established a real community around your products and services.
This subtle alchemy is achieved through careful communication and promotional campaigns, but also through adopting an authentic policy of transparency in the day to day.
Is there a difference between customer experience and customer service?
The notion of “customer service” is old and reflects a pretty basic concept of customer relations management. It’s about taking into account and treating customer claims, and bringing them a satisfactory response.
A better customer experience as such requires going beyond customer expectations, even when the customer doesn’t ask for it, and to multiply the initiatives that improve the brand image (exclusive promotional offers, satisfaction surveys, etc.).
The community customer experience: new stakes
Customer experience and community: why and with what tools?
As indicated above, one of the best ways of operating competitive differentiation is to have a strong, cohesive community.
In the field of customer marketing loyalty, the brand's community is defined as the small circle of the most engaged and enthusiastic customers.
When customers feel part of their community and attach value to that, they’ll follow the brand on social media, participate in satisfaction surveys for the launch of a new product, or even better, they’ll recommend the brand’s services to their network.
There is no lack of means for the expression and activation of community.
Setting up an active, convivial community space all while continually growing the number of “followers” on the main social networks (chosen based on your audience) is obviously a goal.
Other brands will go even further in associating their customer community to the evolution of their commercial offer, through co-creation spaces available online.
How to improve and optimize your customer experience?
Certain pillars of customer experience and loyalty are already well known:
- Get to know your clients better, which includes not only their expectations but also their deepest problems and aspirations. Only a good level of customer knowledge allows brands to implement the right practices.
- Take full advantage of new real-time analysis tools. Advances in technology allow you, for example, to receive immediate feedback on a new product or even to monitor a hotline’s wait times in real time.
- Train your entire team on an ongoing basis. It’s important to guarantee that your agents have perfect knowledge of the company’s offerings, as well as an ease of use of new customer communication channels (click-to-call, instant messaging, social networks, etc.). Customer service is never static and it always needs to be evolving.
Theoretically, the quality of customer relations reflects the positioning of the brand, which must remain relevant, transparent and well understood in the minds of customers.
And yet, when it comes to perception of brands, it’s possible for luxury to turn into low-cost and discount into premium through customer relations.
A solid company culture allows employees to rely on it with the aim of driving values and offering a coherent and seductive experience to customers.
What are the mistakes to avoid?
The smallest impact to customer loyalty risks compromising it and damaging the brand image.
The personalization of customer relations is one of the key factors in the success of customer loyalty.
Treating one's clients as individuals and taking into account their preferences makes up the foundation of a personalized relationship.
Generally, a strategy that does not put the customer at the center of its concerns (customer-centric) will also be destined to fail. This kind of strategy could include:
- a lacking or long customer journey
- non-intuitive ergonomics
- outdated design
As using these measurement tools to determine customer performance is so simple, it would be a mistake not to take advantage of them.
Several well-known KPIs that measure loyalty allow you to evaluate its efficacy and to refine its strategy as you go.
Whether it’s a classic customer satisfaction survey (CSAT), a Customer Effort Score (CES) or a Net Promoter Score (NPS), these indicators reveal if a customer is happy with a brand’s products, if they think the brand’s offer is easily accessible, or even if they’re ready to recommend the brand to others.
The most damaging mistake, nevertheless, could be neglecting your transition to new omnichannel customer relations.
Omnichannel customer service: a challenge and major opportunity
Why is it important to envision an omnichannel customer service?
Not that long ago, customer relations directors followed a multichannel strategy: The more means of communication customers have, the better!
Over the last few years, different “emerging channels” made their way into companies’ daily routines. Chat services, mobile apps, or even after sales service profiles on social networks have been added to phone, email and mail communications.
This “multichannel” logic however, poses immediate problems for brands with the risk of a compartmentalized customer service as well as a loss of coherence – and quality – in the delivered response.
The notion of an omnichannel strategy appears consistent in guaranteeing fluid, seamless monitoring of each customer and in all circumstances, on all existing channels.
The goal is to maintain a 360° view of the customer, while making use of good CRM software and providing one’s agents an exhaustive history of each customer upon each of their claims.
It’s an irreplaceable condition for offering customers adapted and custom responses.
A field directly linked to the challenge of cross-device targeting
Progress made during the transition to an omnichannel service may contribute to the improvement of the customer marketing journey, notably in “cross-device” targeting.
This expression designates the consumer behavior of always switching from one mobile device to another.
Effectively, one can use a computer at work to learn about a product or delivery conditions and then pick up the search in the evening with a tablet, and then finalize the order on a smartphone right before going to bed.
The ability to monitor customers all along their journeys, whether it’s logging their purchases or claims, is an essential challenge that requires constant, cross-device visibility.
Certain sectors are particularly affected by this phenomenon: Sports, apparel, health & beauty are the most vulnerable to this digital nomadism of customers.
Customer knowledge: taking control of your data
Whether their socio-professional category, prefered products or behavioral data, each added customer detail represents a potential gold mine of information.
“Customer knowledge,” defined as all the data that a company has on its customers, has totally changed in just a few years.
While the main challenge once consisted of collecting enough data to direct its marketing campaigns or customer agents, today’s challenge is, on the contrary, facing too much data and filtering out the most relevant information.
Familiar with employee experience?
Only a happy employee can make a customer happy.
Based on this premise, it is important to give your attention to the quality of “employee experience” in your company.
The challenge consists of optimizing the relationship between the employer and every team member in order to increase the level of each person’s engagement.
With the multiplication of available software and professional apps on the one side, and widespread Internet use by customers on the other, companies already find themselves facing an impressive amount of raw data.
“Big data” represents an inestimable potential, as long as you know how to analyze it and extract what’s important.
Powerful technological solutions allow for the detection of recurrent behaviors of a certain category of customers and therefore to anticipate their wishes.
To personalize your relationship with each customer and offer an exceptional customer experience, big data is one of the keys to establishing your competitive advantage.