At Salted Stone we believe Customer Experience will be a major focus for CMOs in 2016.
CX is now seen as a way brands can differentiate and generate positive word-of-mouth amid strong competition. It is becoming a key measure by which brands are defined thanks to the power of social media.
Whether in-store and face to face, over the phone or online, at the point of sale or the point of delivery, customers want and expect a positive experience and are more than willing to share their journey on social media.
“Your brand is now defined as much by what your customers say about their relationship with you as what you say about yourself,” writes Sheryl Pattek of Forrester Research.
“Every touchpoint across the organisation matters -- not just the marketing-led digital touchpoints.”
Marketers are feeling this both as pressure and power. We are leaders in understanding customers and we have diligently worked the soil through social media channels and content marketing which has yielded results - data and deep customer intelligence.
Now the moment has come. According to a recent Gartner survey on the role of marketing in customer experience, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016, versus 36% four years ago.
It also found fewer than half of companies surveyed see their customer experience capabilities as superior to their peers.
If this is where the majority of brands see themselves, what are the tools we have to hand for such a competitive and vital undertaking?
Behind each and every interaction with customers, sits a range of technologies that administer our relationship with them.
Voice of the Customer, Business Process Management, Multichannel Customer Service, Customer Analytics and Master Data management systems are some of the main tools organisations employ, along with Personalisation Technology, Design Tools and Loyalty and Privacy management systems.
One technique companies can use according to Ed Thompson, who is a vice president and analyst with Gartner, is “to audit what they are doing in each area, who is running a project and what’s going on in terms of investment in this technology”.
Having an up to date map and a grasp of the existing breadth and depth of customer interactions is a great place to start.
We have more data at our fingertips now than ever before through numerous channels thanks to in-store POS systems, e-commerce networks, social accounts and mobile applications.
Bringing this data together into a hub of customer insight ought to be a top priority for organisations aiming to deliver a seamless, positive customer experience.
Customers themselves know you have this information and are frustrated when it is not reflected in their communication with you.
Listening to customers, understanding the touchpoints they experience across your organisation, demonstrating trust and openness as well as personalising and customising experiences are proven ways to enhance the customer’s experience of your brand.
However, the conversation needs to be ongoing - an integral part of corporate strategy - and one that has authority across divisions if brands are to realise their Customer Experience-led vision.
As Sheryl Pattek concludes, “Success will hinge on an aligned organisation that can pivot toward customer obsession, where value is built around the customer, rather than a singular channel or product”.