Customer experience is the new battleground for brands. 89% of organizations compete primarily on experience, and 95% tell others about a bad experience.
By now, brands large and small realize that the experience they provide their customers will play a pivotal role in their ability to survive. Customer experience isn’t just a nice feature to have anymore – it’s the primary battlefield for businesses today.
And while the basics of customers service – being responsive, polite, and helpful – are simple enough in theory, they’re difficult to master at a time when customers have become more connected (and thus more powerful) than ever.
To get a better sense of what constitutes great customer experience in our complicated age, and identify best practices for brands to center around the needs of their customers, we spoke with 17 experts across marketing, customer care, and social media strategy.
Here’s a sample of what they had to say.
On the growing importance of customer experience
The reason customer experience is an effective marketing tool is because you’re making a customer say “wow, I want to keep doing business with that company.” But more importantly, when you deliver an amazing experience, you get people talking about you – word of mouth marketing. Testimonial and influencer marketing are so powerful because they allow people to talk about how great a brand is, and that’s a lot more trustworthy than what a brand says itself.
I think that customers are conditioned to have low expectations about customer experience, even as they become more connected and powerful through social. If a brand can stand out through the level of service it provides, it will give people a reason to talk about it. It’s a huge opportunity.
On social media’s growing role in customer experience
I think one of the biggest shifts that’s still playing out is the “on demand” mentality that customers have. We are LITERALLY being conditioned to get what we want, how we want it, where we want it – all in record time. The “On Demand Consumer” is a very real thing and only evolving as technology evolves. Today and in the near tomorrow, brands will still need to grapple with their response time, quality of response, and the ability to almost anticipate a consumer need before they know it.
On the customer care side, we are witnessing a big tilt toward social (both public and private) interactions between companies and consumers. And as messaging apps and bots take root, that trend will pick up even more steam.
On the need for CEOs to understand the importance of customer experience
I’ve heard CEOs say they focus on customer experience, but when you ask them what that means and looks like, they say customer obsession. Nevertheless, they maintain a company-first mindset.
Executives have been slow to put their customers first. Even though communication behavior has changed so much over the past 10 years, most marketing departments are still set up the same way they have been over the past 50 years. Sure, we’ve added social media and digital teams, but those haven’t been truly integrated into the organization.
On what it takes to provide great customer experience today
One top CMO recently said that we have an entire generation of marketers who are faking it right now. The learning curve is way behind where it needs to be. The number one skill that’s needed today is an ability to assess technological changes and adjust tactics quickly. This has vast implications for organizational charts, agency relationships, and skill sets. You have to know enough to ask the right questions.
Basic needs stay the same, but the tools we use in order to get what we want – for customers to get the right product, for brands to provide a great experience – evolve over time. It’s important to remember that while times change, people essentially don’t – but the methods that brands use to engage need to change.