By 2020, price and quality won’t be competitive differentiators for brands. So why would someone choose your business over another? Because of the customer experience.
Marketing experts have long touted customer-centricity as a sticky factor for loyalty and retention. But how does a brand actually define what a great customer experience means?
As the number of companies offering the same type of product or service has saturated nearly every industry — from hotels to banks to hospitals — declaring customers are important just isn’t enough. Brands have to show it along every step of the customer journey.
They must become an experience-driven businesses.
Customer Voice Comes First
Any brand that wants to alter or enhance customer spend must demonstrate a deep and ongoing focus on its relevancy to the customer in the moment.
Uber and Airbnb didn’t disrupt and then dominate their industries by solely offering new products. They championed such massive industry change because they pushed their experience-driven business to a new level. They gave customers what they wanted.
Uber and Airbnb changed the model, making it easier and more productive to do business. Brands like these understand that the more crowded the marketplace, the less of an influence price sensitivity has. This isn’t to say customers don’t care about what they pay. They do. But brands can’t always count on price for the win.
Personalization’s influence on marketing has grown with technology, and research shows it can increase marketing spend efficiency by up to 30%. Now the challenge is creating ubiquitous personalization while maintaining a unified profile across all channels.
Whether the strategy is a loyalty program, offers, or value-adds in the form of information and education, the experience should continue to evolve. Even in the highly regulated financial services industry, customers are selecting and staying with their financial institutions based on the experience. Everyone offers free checking and mobile banking, so to attract and retain customers, there has to be more. This is precisely where experience matters.
Ubiquitous personalization must be a priority for brands. If customers don’t get it with one brand, they’ll find another one that will deliver on their expectations.
Consider the value-add offered by Bank of America’s “Better Money Habits.” BOA customers have access to a comprehensive lineup of financial planning tools and resources for each stage of their financial life. The easy-to-use information is designed to show customers that BOA is more than a bank. It’s BOA’s sticky factor.
Another example is the telecommunication company Charter Communications, branded as Spectrum Communications. Upon acquiring Time Warner Cable in 2016, Charter first focused on price to attract new customers. After its initial pricing approach, the company pivoted its strategy to focus on experience, offering amenities like weekend hours, short service windows, and mobile notifications. The strategy worked, and the company is now recognized for its customer service.
Tools of the Trade
Brands that are dedicated to offering personalized, relevant, nuanced experiences must have the solutions to leverage technology and communication in the right way. Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is one such solution that enables organizations to deliver connected and compelling customer experiences. Earlier this year, Ansira acquired Defakto to better serve the full customer journey with AEM.
Prioritizing the customer experience is a tall order. It means aligning the strategy and journey points among all channels: brick-and-mortar stores, apps, websites, etc. It also requires the right strategic partner that can enable the strategies and technologies necessary to reach the business goals.
Most important, it means ensuring a continual experience from the discovery phase to the front door. Companies that succeed in prioritizing the customer experience can become more than a preferred brand. They can evolve into one that defines the category.