Once upon a time, a company that created great customer experiences really stood out. Great CX (even before the term was coined) was considered a luxury. As such it was often limited to high end products and services. Think luxury cars, jewelry, pricy real estate, and expensive electronics. Other businesses relied on pricing and good old fashioned marketing to get customers through the door or landing page.
That’s no longer the case. Customers today are demanding great experiences from every brand they do business with. According to research done by Salesforce, customer loyalty is greatly impacted by a brand’s ability to understand and meet individual needs. 80% of B2B customers expect real time interaction. If anyone is assuming these expectations are driven by millennials and may taper off with the next generation, they couldn’t be more wrong. As they are entering adulthood, Gen Y has even higher expectations regarding customer experience according to Forrester and Am-Ex.
Bottom line, CX impacts trust, loyalty, recommendations, and other factors that are key to growth and success. Businesses must begin treating CX as a marketing tool, not a fringe benefit.
Chatbots Can Reach Top of Funnel Customers Without Being Intrusive
Internet marketing guru Raymond Lowe says, “When a customer is still in the browsing stages, contact with a sales person can feel pushy, even overwhelming. On the other hand, these customers need information about products and services in order to make decisions. Properly deployed, chatbots are a great option for answering questions and providing important information without being intrusive.”
While chatbots are assisting customers by answering questions and providing recommendations, there are other things happening at the same time. First, this initial engagement is helping to foster a sense of trust between the customer and the brand. In addition to this, chatbots create an opportunity to collect important customer data that can be used to improve CX down the line.
Successful Brands Will Employ Data-Driven Personalization
Brands like NetFlix and Amazon don’t enjoy the enormous popularity that they do simply because of their products and services. They also earn customer loyalty by curating personalized recommendations based on previous purchases and expressed interests. As mentioned above, personalization is seen as key in creating CX that boosts customer loyalty.
Brands who wish to create customer experiences that stand out from their competitors will need to use a combination of implicitly and explicitly collected data to hyper-personalize online experiences. While product recommendations are certainly part of this, that’s just the start. Personalization can be used to customize messaging and content as well. Companies can offer entirely different website experiences based upon information such as location, device, on site behavior, and other data.
One area that too many brands are ignoring is personalization based upon explicit data collection. According to Raymond Lowe, “Obviously efforts to use data collected via analytics and other implicit means to create great user experiences are worthwhile. However, it’s amazing how many brands fail to simply ask customers what they want. It’s a shame, because what better way to personalize experiences than to base them on customers stated interests and preferences?”
Using Technology to Create Amazing Experiences Will Become a Must
Millennials and members of Gen Z want engaging, entertaining, real-time customer experiences. Fortunately, technology has kept up with these demands. It’s now up to brands to implement these technologies to create CX that truly outpaces other companies.
The possibilities are limitless. Brands can take advantage of messaging apps to reach customers through their devices with targeted messaging and special offers. Augmented and virtual reality can be used to create truly immersive experiences while also serving to inform and educate customers. Real estate firms are already using VR headsets to take buyers on tours of homes across the globe. Imaging embedding AR codes inside of a restaurant menu. Not only can diners read a description of the dish, they can view a 3D model of it along with full nutritional information via their mobile devices. Then there is beacon technology that can be used to send customers special offers and other information in real time simply based on where they are browsing in a store.
Self-Service Options Will Continue to be Important
When it comes to customer service, attitudes have certainly changed within a generation or so. While the ability to get a real person on the line immediately was once considered the gold standard of customer service, that’s no longer the case. Today, customers are no longer frustrated or put off by ‘having to interact with some computer’, they actually prefer it. To them, it’s much faster and more convenient to make a payment, change account information, get information, or place an order through an automated phone system or online than it is to go through the steps of human interaction and the complexities that can cause.
Consumers are no longer impressed with good CX. They see it as a bare minimum when it comes to brand loyalty, recommending products, or making repeat purchases. By using technology, personalizing experiences, and understanding the value of being unobtrusive companies can create CX that customers truly appreciate.