Mind the ‘experience’ gap: questions are key

We’ve all said one thing and meant something else, whether it’s claiming to be “fine” when you’re angry or declining that second biscuit when you really fancy another one. In the same way, there seems to be a huge disconnect between what marketers say they are delivering to customers and what those customers actually feel that they are getting from brands.

In fact, according to research from Qualtrics, a staggering 90% of marketers claim to be “customer centric” in their approach, yet only 17% of consumers feel truly valued by brands.

So, what’s causing this gap and what needs to be done to close it?  

Almost two-thirds of marketers (64%) feel held back when it comes to developing customer insights, with the majority of marketers blaming time and budget constraints for their lack of in-depth understanding. Over half of marketers also said that they did not know what they were looking for when it came to analysing customer feedback, making it impossible for them to identify trends and understand what consumers are really looking for from brands. All the data in the world is useless if you don’t know how to analyse it or what to look for.

For marketers, the key to overcoming this is asking the right questions. It’s about knowing not only what your customers are doing, but why they’re doing it.

While 81% of marketers agree it’s extremely important to understand their customers, only 46% of consumers feel understood by the brands they usually buy from, and only 60% believe that brands put the customer first. This difference in opinion can result in both frustrated marketers and consumers who feel alienated or misunderstood.

So, what’s causing this gap?

Currently, companies are relying heavily on operational data - quantitative data that tells them what their customers have done historically. But knowing why they did - or didn’t - do something is where the real insights happen.

Take an online grocery retailer for example. Looking at their operational data they see an increase in cart abandonment during the peak Christmas period. There could be many reasons why. They look at their checkout process to see that it’s working correctly. It is. They check there are no issues on their servers with the additional traffic they’re seeing. No problem there either. Lost for why so many people are abandoning their carts, they gather the experience data instead with a simple survey served to customers when they leave the checkout page.

What they find is it’s not a tech issue, but a UX one. Customers are trying to use the voucher codes the retailer sent out in its Christmas promotions - but when they can’t see the field to enter it at checkout, they leave.

In fact, the field is on the second page, but customers aren’t hanging around to find it. It’s a simple fix, pulling the field into the first page - but it’s one that would have taken round after round of testing and, without layering in experience data, one that could have cost them many thousands more customers.

By adding additional insights into why consumers are behaving in certain ways, marketers can think beyond traditional data analysis to help close these experience gaps. They’re doing this by thinking not just about what happened in the past, but about why it happened. This additional layer of context can add real competitive advantage for today’s brands, allowing them to provide an experience that meets and exceeds their customers’ expectations. The secret for today’s marketers isn’t more data, it’s the right data.

About Jack Davies

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