In November, I chaired the Customer Experience Exchange Europe event in Brussels - speaking on stage with some of the big boys in the industry; brands that are currently ticking all the right boxes with their customer experience strategy - Barclays, Coca Cola, Forrester… the list goes on.
It was an insightful event, which uncovered a series of major macro themes. Trends and insights that ultimately outline how brands can plan and execute aligned customer experiences and delight customers.
One thing is clear. We’re in an era where customers play a definitive role in the success of a brand.
But just how we deliver these seamless experiences - that meet and fulfill our customers’ wants, needs and expectations - is less obvious.
Whether we’re CMOs, Brand Strategists, Customer Experience Professionals, or business people alike, there is one key questions on everyone’s lips...
How can we develop and action an irresistible customer experience that aligns to our brand’s vision and values, whilst still meeting the demands of customers?
Whilst the answer is not black and white, the question sparks excitement. Because, those brands who can figure out the answer and deliver the necessary experience at each and every touch point, are going to be able to differentiate themselves and lead the way in this new era.
And what business doesn’t want that?
So let’s take a closer look at some of the fast-emerging customer experience trends that world leading brands are spearheading this year.
A journey to the new you
If you’re not using customer experience as a core business transformation tool, it’s going to be a difficult slog if you want to compete with and differentiate yourself against the competition.
Brands must align their customer experiences closely with their strategy, vision and promise if they want to transform their business and adapt in this brave new world.
And whilst investing in customer service is an intelligent step towards this, it’s also a step every other business is taking too. Improving just customer service means making your brand just as good as everyone else.
To truly differentiate yourself and lead the way in customer experience improvement, you need to harness the myriad of data and insights available and use it to innovate the next generation of brand-customer interaction.
And it all starts with two key practices:
Observe the behaviour of real customers in the digital world
Understand the emotional relationships they build with brands in the physical world
Today’s customers expect every organisation they interact with to know them. They have given you access to their data across each channel they have interacted with. So don’t rest on your laurels - use it, analyse it, understand it.
Seamless customer experiences must be built around a combination of data and insights into the customer’s real life.- It’s invaluable and can drive real change within your business.
Listen to those who matter
Within this transformation, it is too easy to lose sight of the big picture. Brands tend to distract themselves, focusing on improving silos, with little or no sight of the brand.
“Brands need to be informed by their customers, and led by their brand.” - Denise Lee Yohn
Businesses must understand why customers behave like they do - both online and off. This is core to your customer experience upgrade.
Customers know what they want, where they want it, and how they want to receive it. And it is up to the brand to make sure everyone within the company knows this information too.
There is no excuse for brands not to be in tune with the wants and needs of their customers.
Make sure you’re speaking to the people engaging with your customers on a day-to-day basis, as well as your customers and your business leaders. After all, they are the one group of people that come face-to-face with the buying behaviour of your customers every day.
But you also need to remember to protect your brand proposition…
Irresistible experiences rely on an enthusiastic team who are involved with your CX transformation from start to finish.
Your brand is defined by those who experience it; customers and employees. So making sure people throughout the business can easily define their role in the customer’s journey - and how they need to align themselves to the brand - is a fundamental stepping stone.
A stepping stone to successful brand alignment.
To do this, consider the following:
All changes need to have identifiable benefits for both the customer and the business.
Before any positive, long term changes can be made to the customer’s experience, work on the insides of the organisation first.
Don’t run before you can walk
Collecting the data and insights from your customers is the first step.
Understanding and anticipating this information is the next.
The third is using all of this to build a strong foundation from which you can develop and deliver a seamless customer experience.
This is also known as establishing your brand basics. The things that a customer expects you to deliver, but done in a unique and on-brand way. If a business doesn’t deliver the basics well, it makes no difference what CX transformation processes are put in place - they simply won’t work.
Irresistible customer experiences are about consistency. Consistency across every platform, every touch point, every interaction. This is a fundamental aspect of building a brand; establishing a level of trust and interacting with customers using a level of empathy and human emotion.
Brand basics are the stepping stones to those sought after ‘wow’ moments; brand amplifying moments that delight customers in a differentiated way.
As soon as your brand has determined the crux of what your customers want, and created a way to deliver this to them - and well. Then you can focus on introducing brand amplifiers to your customer experience.
But if a business can’t get their brand basics right what chance do they have of amplifying their brand?
Take a holistic approach
Many businesses miss out on the integration of their digital and physical experiences. They storm into CX development using insights from the C-Suite of their organisation, with a strategy that is going to improve the business internally but not externally…
In this new era of branding where customers are very much in control, brands need to make a change. They need to abandon their siloed approach, and instead opt for a holistic method:
Collect and interpret data and insights from real customers
Blend the digital and physical worlds to develop and deliver a seamless and irresistible customer experience
Look at viewpoints from inside and outside your business; customers and employees
Incorporate several different platforms and touchpoints into your customer experience strategy
Focus on delivering your brand basics before designing those wow moments
Renewing your brand strategy and re-aligning your customer experience isn’t going to happen over night. But if you can figure out how to integrate these tips, your business will have a good chance of making a mark on its industry.
This blog post originally appeared as a guest post on http://www.brandquarterly.com/.