Among the many disruptions caused by the global pandemic that largely defined the year 2020 was the increased importance of excelling at delivering great experiences to customers — not just sometimes, but all the time and in real time.
We traditionally think of customer experience (CX) as the responsibility of customer service and contact centers, which will always be part of the foundation designed to respond to inquiries and answer questions. But over the last year, many people have faced tremendous pressure due to chaos and confusion. Organizations, including government agencies, were forced to look at how they engaged with people differently.
Although omnichannel solutions — including engaging with customers through social media, text messaging, virtual voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, and mobile and web chatbots — remain popular, the tipping point in 2020 seemed to come when state unemployment agencies, among others, could not handle the volume of requests they received.
After months of scrambling, we seem to be taking a collective breath as people are getting vaccinated and the world is opening back up.
One of the “silver linings” for me was the wake-up call enterprises and small- and medium-sized businesses received that opened up their minds to innovations that bring together digital experience (DX) and CX. Many I’ve worked with were able to respond to new pressures and reduce costs while remaining competitive.
When you’re undertaking initiatives to bring DX and CX together, it’s always important to identify not only the obvious benefits of transformation, but also the bigger picture of creating value through the respectful collection of data that can lead to much deeper and more immediate insights about what customers think, believe and desire. The new market reality is that without a creative DX and CX strategy, brands may not survive, and government agencies may lose opportunities to improve lives in the communities they serve.
To keep up with generational shifts in customer expectations — like wanting information and problems solved in a fast, free and friendly way — it is important to build a future focused on delivering not just a “good enough” experience but “great” experiences across every digital channel.
New DX solutions have caused a shift in customer expectations and have completely redefined what modern buyers expect. Today’s consumers, regardless of their age or background, are increasingly and often constantly connected. They’re accustomed to choosing to use the engagement channels they want at the time they want.
B2B companies need to understand the power and benefits of reaching out and building relationships, educating prospects and converting them to customers by using AI and other data to understand, then solve, their problems.
The best and brightest marketing and communications leaders understand that customers — whether they’re consumers or B2B decision makers — often respond best to data-driven and targeted messages.
A combination of DX and CX is a strong way forward, whether teams are planning SEO campaigns,personalized social campaigns or in-person and virtual events.
The transformation journey begins with the customer journey.
Brands should focus on what customers want and need and do the work to understand how those customers think to create the best overall experiences in stages ranging from acquisition to service to relationship expansion. Here are a few simple steps for improving the customer journey.
1. Make it easy for customers to find you by making your offering and its differentiators clear and present where new customers may be searching. Start the relationship off on the right foot with clarity, simplicity and a straight path to learning more.
2. When a prospective customer does engage, deliver a strong, exciting message on the landing page for your campaigns with compelling headlines, images and benefits that can be understood immediately. Don’t ask prospects or customers to do the work.
3. Give prospects easy ways to get in touch on the channels of their choice. Build a multi-channel strategy and let them decide how they like to communicate. Don’t force a single-channel approach that may be more convenient for the brand but less convenient for the prospect.
4. Once you convert the prospect into a customer, respectfully offer the opportunity to keep in touch and to receive tailored suggestions for new products, services and features based on their preferences for content and channels. This could include a text message, email or in-store offer in the rapidly transforming digital retail world.
5. As customers become happier and more loyal, reward them for sharing their experiences with their family and friends. Do so in such a way that they feel their time is valuable and appreciated.
6. If customers become dissatisfied, immediately respond in a kind and understanding way. Overachieve in this area; sometimes being able to overcome a negative experience with a positive outcome can deepen loyalty.
Marketing and communications professionals can have a meaningful impact on driving digital transformation and can help protect their companies from digital disruption. We have seen epic failures from companies who refused to adopt digital models, and it’s important to bring those examples into the light and lead discussions on why DX is more than a trend — as well as why CX has become the darling of many companies in hospitality, banking, health care, media and entertainment.
In a 2017 HBR survey, 40% of respondents reported that customer experience is their top priority. In the same survey, 72% of respondents said that they expect the shift to digital to allow for closer relationships with customers.
While it’s important to ensure that privacy and personal information are protected, A Cisco survey (via HBR) found that many customers are willing to let companies collect their information in exchange for a “personal or public benefit.”
Marketing and customer service technologies can continue to empower customers and reward organizations that spend time understanding the trends and creating their own DX and CX strategies.
I believe thinking about creating harmony between technology innovations and human behavior is the way forward as “great expectations” continue to rise.