I am not a big fan of traditional banks. From the endless queues in the early hours of the morning in exchange for an essential service to the sales reps who try to sell you life insurance at all costs and the juggling games to pass all the security filters when you’re purchasing abroad, the experience is anything but delightful.
Because of the movement restrictions imposed by Covid-19, I decided to try a new challenger bank. I’m a marketer working for a leading tech company whose mission is to help organizations grow by delivering delightful customer experiences. So, of course, I was curious to discover the secret sauce behind its growth.
It didn’t take me long to realize that their secret is that there is no secret. The company simply puts the user experience above everything else. From opening a bank account in less than a minute to solving any inquiry via live messaging almost instantly and exchanging currencies at interbank rates at the touch of a button, ease of use and speed are the credo the company seems to live.
With the acceleration of digitalization caused by the pandemic and the consumerization of business tools such as Zoom, buyers are now more independent, demanding and even empowered to switch services if the experience isn’t up to their standards. As the marketing director, EMEA at a company that offers a CRM platform, I’ve found that they will often react more to a moment of friction than to a moment of seamless performance. A remarkable experience is mostly invisible and unnoticed, while an unpleasant experience is nearly impossible to overlook.
Digital Experience: The Cornerstone Of Your Success
The world changed pretty dramatically in 2020 — one year felt more like 10 years because of the pivots most companies had to make. As I mentioned in my previous piece, “The question consumers will have is this: If a business they were interacting with was able to provide a great digital experience during the lockdown, why wouldn’t they be able to maintain that as restrictions lift?”
For them, being delighted isn’t an added value to their experience as your customer; it’s the inner foundation your relationship is built on. The focus on the digital experience has led disruptors to see unparalleled growth; however, there are potentially devastating risks for those companies that are not willing to reconsider their digital experiences.
So, why are there many businesses not living up to consumers’ expectations?
I believe the main reason is that businesses’ need to survive in 2020 led them to make decisions that aren’t scalable. Many companies have adopted different technologies for different functions: a CRM to manage customer data, a customer management system (CMS) to build their website and marketing automation to scale their efforts.
This approach often means that the customer is responsible for making all of these systems work together.
Customers generally aren’t interested in, nor do they have patience for, customer experiences that are hindered by complexity or inefficient systems. They just expect you to understand who they are and what they want at all times.
How To Thrive In Today’s Changing Landscape
Two core elements are key:
Assumptions don’t yield results. To get the digital experience right, quality data that provides insights into each individual customer’s experience is crucial.
“Who are your customers?” is no longer a valid question. Instead, you should create a complete picture of this and that specific customer. What does the digital journey look like? When, where and how have they interacted with your business? What do they need and want from you now and expect from you next?
No matter how much data you have at your fingertips, your customer-facing teams will likely fail to deliver the experience the customer expects if they don’t have this information. This is often the Achille’s heel of companies that work with cobbled-together tech stacks, and it’s where centralization can come in.
I believe ensuring a remarkable experience across all touchpoints comes down to moving from ad hoc single solutions to a unified platform. When your CMS sits alongside marketing, sales and customer service solutions in a centralized system, customer-facing teams can see each customer’s journey as a whole.
However, for customer-facing teams to deliver this remarkable experience, they must be set up for success. Therefore, leaders should work to align and unify the systems and data they use.
Think of somebody who visits your pricing page repeatedly. Suppose the marketing and sales teams become aware of this interaction. In that case, marketing could send a discount code, while sales could suggest a product demo to showcase its value.
Putting the customer at the center of everything you do means anticipating their needs and wants across all touchpoints and being able to act upon them accordingly.
Have you picked a primary platform of record and can all other things in your stack integrate with it? This is the key question business leaders should be asking themselves about centralization today. Using a lot of apps is not inherently a painful experience. The iPhone and Android are generally very stable, and the apps living within their systems adhere to the user experience nicely. B2B stacks, although not as simple, are conceptually similar. You should start with a common foundational platform and then augment it with specialized capabilities, apps and tools that are unique to your business or strategy.
When it comes to centralization, I believe integration is the most important factor to consider.
Redefining The Customer Experience
To deliver this digital experience at scale, you should reconsider the underlying foundations that enable the experience itself.
The customer-facing components of the digital experience, such as your website, blog, advertising and email content, are likely to be interchangeable with any other brand unless you find ways to deliver the personalization and relevance that separates an everyday digital interaction from an outstanding one.
Whether it’s a banking solution, a CRM or your favorite food delivery app, the businesses that deliver delightful customer experiences will thrive in today’s digital-first age. In fact, I believe business growth depends on it.