It’s no secret that creating amazing customer experiences is a key component of all brands’ marketing strategies. If that’s not the case, then quite frankly you’re missing a trick. In 2021, where the majority of a customer’s interaction with a brand is online, customer experience (CX) becomes even more important. eMarketer’s 2021 Customer Experience report finds that 93% of US adults described themselves as very likely to make more purchases from companies across all industries that provided ‘very good’ CX. On top of this, the Global State of Customer Experience report tells us that three-quarters of consumers switch to a brand competitor after just one bad experience. In short, if you want to retain your customers and drive more sales, a positive customer experience is key.
Customer experience covers an extremely broad area, as it can be defined as every touchpoint that a customer has with your brand, from pre-purchase, to the purchase process (if they get that far) and consumption, to post-purchase interactions.
So, if you’re looking to improve your customer experience, where should you start?
Hit them in the feels
In my opinion, creating emotive experiences is one of the key considerations for driving exceptional CX. Customers respond well to brands when they feel heard and understood, or when they are surprised and delighted by the experience they have with a brand. A study conducted by Forrester and Focus Vision showed that the way customers feel during a brand experience (delight or disgust) has 1.5x more impact on the actions they take with that brand (for example, purchase) than the way they think about the brand (for example, it fitting in their with lifestyle). The study also found that increasing the average number of positive thoughts or feelings about a brand increases a customer’s likelihood to purchase in the next three months by 11%, and their likelihood to advocate for your brand by 15.4%.
Driving emotive customer experiences doesn’t necessarily come easily. I believe there are three key considerations to keep in mind to achieve this:
- Empathize with your customers
- Surprise and delight your customers
- Make your customers feel unique
Empathize with your customers
The best customer experiences are born from an outside-in approach: listening to your customers and responding to their needs. Collecting data from your customers (including from social media comments and product reviews) is a great place to start. However, it’s not just about listening – it’s about hearing what your customers have to say and empathizing with them. Sometimes they will tell you something you don’t like, or something unexpected; adapting your strategy based on their genuine feedback is the way to win.
Bloom & Wild demonstrated a great example of this in 2019. Despite Mother’s Day being the busiest day of the year for florists, for some Bloom & Wild customers persistent email marketing reminding them of the occasion was upsetting. Bloom & Wild heard this and were mindful of the fact that Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for a variety of reasons. In response, Bloom & Wild adapted its CX, giving customers the chance to opt out of Mother’s Day-specific marketing, while still receiving the same offers and discounts. This resulted in 18,000 opt-outs of the Mother’s Day campaign, and over 1000 responses from customers to thank Bloom & Wild for its thoughtfulness – a perfect example of pivoting your CX through empathy.
Surprise and delight customers
Many brands now offer a similar standard of customer experience, especially digitally, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Driving joyful, unexpected experiences for your customer is a great way of standing out among competitors. No one particularly enjoys having to interact with brands, and contacting brands directly is typically out of necessity or to complain. Using a direct contact opportunity with your customer to surprise and delight them can tap into driving up their positive thoughts or feelings. As mentioned previously, this could increase the likelihood of future purchases and brand advocacy.
Octopus Energy have done a brilliant job here. Max McShane, head of digital, recently talked at Econsultancy Live about their focus on “outrageously good customer experiences”. Its strategy includes treating customers to personalized hold music based on the year they were born in a bid to up their positive feelings about the brand while they wait. This has worked wonders, with McShane claiming: “Every week we get a comment that says, ‘can you put me back on hold, I’m listening to an absolute banger.’” Identifying even the smallest moments where your brand can increase a customer’s positive feeling can be the difference between a good CX and a great one.
Make your customers feel unique
Staying on the theme of personalization, making your customer feel unique is another way of generating emotive customer experiences. Spotify has always done this well. Ever since it started creating its ‘Daily Mixes’ for its customers, personalization has been inherent to its CX. However, it took this up a notch recently by launching its ‘Only You’ campaign. This campaign uses your listening data to highlight the artists, songs, genres and listening patterns that are both unique and important to you. With this campaign, Spotify doesn’t just make the customer feel special – although it has done the same for everyone, there is novelty in the idea that this is ‘just for you’ – the content that comes with it is also very shareable. Spotify’s retention rate is also benefited by this unique customer experience, as the creation of ‘Only You’ playlists gives customers ready-made content that would be a lot effort to replicate on a competing music streaming service.
- The importance of great customer experience is not going away, so brands must ensure CX is considered as an integral part of their marketing strategy.
- With that in mind, creating emotive customer experiences can be extremely powerful, especially as research has shown the effect positive customer feeling has on interactions with brands.
- Collect as much data as you can that helps you to understand your customer’s needs and desires, and pivot your CX strategy accordingly.