What one company comes to mind first when you think of customer experience? Since we ourselves are staunch Amazon evangelists, we already know our answer.
But apparently millions of Americans don’t share our enthusiasm. Because the number one company considered best in class in customer satisfaction according to a recent report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index is actually a tie between three companies: Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s and H-E-B.
Should that come as a harsh blow to a company that regularly describes itself as the “Earth’s most customer-centric company”? Not particularly. Amazon is still number one among retailers. And customer experience has no small effect on consumer purchasing habits. A recent survey from CapGemini found that 8 out of 10 consumers are willing to pay more in return for a better customer experience.
Here’s the real question: what defines customer experience?
Customer Experience: Does One Size Fit All?
One of the difficulties in defining customer experience is that there’s any number of variables involved. It varies significantly from industry to industry. And it varies even more dramatically when it comes to brick and mortar retailers vs digital merchants. So what are some of the common elements which constitute the customer experience?
The answer is in 4 P’s: product, perspective, personalization and proactivity.
Your product is the cornerstone of your business. And it tends to get overlooked once brands are constructed around the basis of marketing, not substance. We’re not trying to argue that a well crafted brand narrative is irrelevant to your business. If that were the case, you’d be out of business tomorrow—and frankly, so would we. What we’re suggesting is that your marketing narrative should be crafted around your brand, not vice versa. Your narrative and your product should be completely in sync with one another. Your customers aren’t just purchasing your product on the strength of your ad campaign alone.
Every single aspect of your business should be focused around a single perspective: your customer. That doesn’t just mean your product and how it can enrich their lives. That doesn’t just mean relatability. And it doesn’t just extend to marketing campaigns. It extends to your entire business. That includes logistics. That includes fulfillment. That includes rewards and loyalty programs (or aren’t you using them yet?) Customer-centricity may sound like an overwrought buzzword. It isn’t. Any successful customer experience is reflective of the needs of a customer, not a brand. Listen to what they have to say. You just might find their input a lot more valuable than any six figure business analyst.
How important is personalization? In a recent poll from Accenture, no less than 33 percent of all customers surveyed stated they’d abandon a company entirely if a competitor offered more personalized customer service. That’s a third of your business; more than enough to put you in the red. Customers don’t like being viewed as a source of capital. That’s probably not shocking news. But how do you provide personalized service in a digital world—particularly with a first time customer you’ve never met before?
Give them more than what they bargained for. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a free trinket with each order, coupons, an invitation to exclusive promotions and sales or a personalized ad campaign, your customers want to be remembered. And being remembered is what transforms customers from being passive consumers into fiercely loyal brand advocates.
Proactivity isn’t just about addressing errors and delays as they occur. It’s about aligning your business with customer needs before they even have a chance to voice them.
Customer experience extends across every touchpoint of your business—from marketing to fulfillment. If you’re not cognizant of both trending habits as well as current demands, customer experience will suffer as a result. And each process should work in harmony with one another. Unlike traditional retail, there’s absolutely no room for weak links in eCommerce. Customers have a wider variety of choices in digital retail. And if you can’t fulfill demands, your competitors will.
Identify your weakest areas. Is it your supply chain? Production delays? Frequent auditing of your operations will reveal patterns and blind spots that demand your focus if you hope to achieve full alignment of business processes and your end goals.
Review alternative solutions. This isn’t necessarily a question of cost, but efficacy. Short term savings rarely result in long term sustainability. Can you consolidate any of your processes? Virtualize them without sacrificing delivery? Remember that customer experience is about consistency. And if any aspect of your business isn’t completely integrated, your ultimate value will be diminished.
Don’t go it alone. A small business can seem like a game of chance—particularly in eCommerce. That’s because it is. Marketing’s a great example. What drove conversions two years ago simply isn’t going to be applicable in 2021. How well do you understand SERP? SFR? How have metrics changed when analyzing effective sales campaigns? There’s no constant in eCommerce. Demographics change. Demands change. Methodologies change. And your business needs to change as well.
How Prepared Are You For The Customer Journey?
Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.