Using customer experience to engage with customers

What you should consider in changing business environments

Reaching your audience through advertising can work. But reaching the right audiences through this channel - at the right time and in the right place - is elusive. Today, CX is firmly in play…

In the age of ‘always on’, mobile first and the proliferation of social communications, many organisations are turning to customer experience (CX) to engage with current or prospective customers. 

The idea that as businesses grow larger they need to think smaller, is growing in the corporate mindset. The worlds of Airbnb, Toms shoes and Netflix provide an experience and not just a product. Good customer experience leaves people with a positive view of your brand. But a really outstanding customer experience helps brands shout loud through all sorts of social media, where friends and family can see this amazing experience.

My own recent experience with poor CX is with a brand I really love in the world of bricks and mortar. I can walk into the London shop and buy products which are hand picked by the sales team and are best suited to me. But when I go online, their website fails across every aspect of the customer journey. Firstly, it defaults to a US store even when I have specifically chosen the UK store. The registration process is clunky and does not recognise me on a return visit. And the worst aspect of the experience is that the site will not let me purchase or complete the shopping process. If I didn’t love the products, I would leave this brand and go with one of the thousand competitors out there. 

What is causing this shift to happen? 

Gartner research in 2014 highlighted a shift in company focus. 89% of companies expect to compete primarily on customer experience. That’s a significant increase in just a few short years from their previous forecast.

Customers are always on, and their reliance on peer reviews to help make decisions on where, when and how to spend their hard earned money is becoming the norm. In a recent focus group session with two groups of women, the findings that the majority placed a higher emphasis on the reviews on Amazon than the messages being presented by the brand in advertising or direct marketing activities was a bit of a surprise, given that the majority of the participants were over 40.

Conversations around improving the experience, and therefore the brand, is a common goal for many advertisers. The investment in getting customers to become passionate advocates is a key objective for many senior management and business leaders. 

Understanding the drivers is the starting point. Being able to deliver them is another aspect of the complexities of the focus on CX. Many business leaders understand the importance of CX, but the majority of these senior management and board level executives have a hard time at the starting line. Below are a few ideas on starting the process within a business environment:

Insights are the basis for great CX.
Break down silos - experience doesn’t thrive in isolation. Omni-channel thinking should be the start to imagining the customer experience journey. 
Storytelling and testimonials which are seen to be authentic encourage an emotional engagement with a brand.

Creativity is not just about the images we present to the outside world - it can apply to every touchpoint we have with customers. These building blocks are the elements needed to establish customer desire and subsequently loyalty, which drives brands in the age of customer experience.