Today, tremendous potential – and huge risk – exist when using data, analytics, and personalization technologies to build unique customer experiences.
However, a huge amount of information is available from a wide array of sources. Many companies are not yet prepared to effectively create insight from which to build top-notch programs. (1) For many the desire to use what’s been collected considerably exceeds internal technology and expertise to convert data into insights that drive actionable strategies. Those companies who currently possess these capabilities are in the minority – and are reaping substantial rewards.
No Such Thing as “The Customer”
Customers are in no way a homogenous group – or even a handful of groups. Customers view themselves as unique, with views, wants and needs solely theirs – and act accordingly. This includes both consumers and business customers.
Consequently, companies need to carefully develop customer strategies so efforts and investments are focused where the company can truly differentiate, deepen current customer relationships, and identify opportunities for future growth.
Customer Expectations and Concerns
Customer expectations continue to increase. Customers reward companies and brands that explicitly understand and deliver on their expectations.
Companies/brands seeking to build customer loyalty must realize it’s critical to both provide what is desired, and actively demonstrate why your company deserves their trust.
- Offering customized products and services:
- Highlighting inclusion of desired attributes
- Describing the fit of product/service with their interests, goals, etc.
Example: Wells Fargo (2) doesn’t discuss checkbooks with millennials. Instead, they focus on digital offerings and how information to make decisions is immediately available.
Initial customer interactions are critical in communicating the importance of the customer to the company/brand and the availability of customized products and services.
- Gaining and maintaining trust:
- Transparency – throughout the organization in every customer-facing action
- Consistency – messages and actions, across all platforms and devices
Example: Consumers want to protect their privacy. People understand just how easily companies can know more about them than they care to share. Multiple studies (3) have shown consumers are most concerned about company knowledge of their use of mobile phones (54%), TV (46%) and alcohol (42%).
Take privacy concerns seriously. Carefully consider decisions to use and/or share customer information. Top of mind is personal information. Internet users worry most about how well retailers can/will keep their personal information secure (45%). Nearly half (49%) of mobile phone users worry companies will use their information to “sell me more stuff.”
Current Customer Successes and Failures
A recent eMarketer report (4) shows potential touchpoints and channels for brands to reach customers is huge and growing. However, that large number brings with it the realities of required capabilities to effectively manage messaging.
When brands create positive connections with consumers via one touchpoint, yet fail to be consistent across other touchpoints, potential strong customer experience benefits are lost.
An additional ‘wrinkle’ in the use of numerous channels and touchpoints is the reality that customers want one single point of resolution, immediately – via first contact – for any issues. While customers may view that as simple and direct, the complexity of actually making that happen is huge.
Building customer relationships and exceeding customer experience expectations is continuing to require more of companies/brands – while doing so grows in complexity. The task for astute leaders is to determine very specifically their company’s needs for today and looking forward. They then need to commit to investments in both advanced technologies and in talent acquisition and development to cover the spectrum from extracting the most from technology to crafting tailored ‘customer touch’ methods that are equally effective across all customer touchpoints.
- Marketers Lack the Skills to Deliver on Customer Experience, eMarketer, July 5, 2016 (referencing studies from Forbes Insights, Accenture Interactive and Forrester Consulting)
- How Wells Fargo is Reaching the Digital Customer, Knowledge@Wharton, June 14, 2016
- Consumers to Brands: Don’t Monitor My Product Usage. Why? Privacy is a Core Belief., eMarketer, June 17, 2016 (referencing studies from Mindshare, Associated Press and GfK)
- How Are Brands Meeting, and Exceeding, Customer Expectations, eMarketer, May 18, 2016 (referencing studies from Nice Systems, Boston Consulting Group, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business)
- Assess all current customer touchpoints to understand the consistency in which your company is delivering on strategic messages, that messaging is able to be customized to distinct customer segments, and there is a strong team with the responsibility for staying on top of changes that require internal evaluation.
- Evaluate investments in advanced technologies specific to customer insight and talent in each of the critical areas (technical to customer facing) to ensure the focus is well targeted and the investments are sufficient to achieve objectives.
- Establish internal methods for evaluating different current and new customer segments, how they vary today and over time, and what new opportunities may exist for products, product updates, and additional services. Assign responsibility for summarizing these findings and presenting them to the leadership team and all product and customer teams frequently.
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