Today’s business environments are nothing if not uncertain. Even the most seasoned e-commerce companies have spent the last six months operating a lot like startups, rapidly evolving and continually optimizing strategies to keep up with demand, or in some cases, merely survive. Those succeeding have one thing in common - a solid customer experience strategy. Here’s why:
Increased Digital Access Drives Demand for Superior Customer Experiences
A recent report by Hootsuite and We Are Social revealed that 4.5 billion people now use the internet. That is more than half of the world’s population. But while increased digital access means more exposure for your brand, it also means increased competition. In the digital age, if customers aren’t satisfied with the experience you’re offering, they don’t need to get in their car to shop elsewhere. They only need to open a new browser tab. And they aren’t limited to your business and the shop down the street. They can be sitting in their apartment in New York while purchasing from a small ‘mom and pop’ shop in California.
3.8 billion people, according to the same report, now use social media. Again, having the ability to give more people access to your brand in more channels is an arguably good thing, but if your customer experience isn’t up to snuff, it can also have its drawbacks. One bad review can snowball into a viral blemish on the public’s perception of your brand and cause costly, sometimes irreparable damage.
While consumer behavior is always evolving, 2020 undeniably accelerated the shift to digital commerce. A record 2.05 billion people are now shopping online. And most of them expect at least the same quality of customer service they’d receive if they were shopping in-store. Companies that lack the technology required to provide the same caliber of customer experience risk losing customers, and ultimately, revenue.
To stay competitive, companies need to prioritize investments in technologies that enable them to show the right customer the right content at the right time, get new products to market faster, keep messaging consistent across every channel, and provide accurate and up-to-the-minute product and pricing information. These are all things buyers associate with exceptional customer experience.
Think about the taxi industry, for instance. Customer experience was lacking, so Uber came in and shook things up. The company garnered an immediate following by offering long-awaited solutions to customer experience challenges, including getting customers where they need to go faster and cheaper than a taxi. As the taxi industry struggles, Uber is now worth an estimated $82 billion.
Amazon, Netflix, and Zappos all have similar stories. These companies are built on a foundation of customer experience excellence. To them, customer experience isn’t just a strategy, it’s the fabric of their business. Adopting that mentality can help you disrupt your industry and position yourself as the leader in your space.
Now that you understand why a strong customer experience strategy is so imperative to your success, we’ll dive into how to begin formulating a customer experience strategy that works for your unique business.
The first step is to understand your customers. Who are they? What motivates them? Next, identify the gap between their needs and wants and what they actually experience when they interact with your brand. Is the gap specific to certain touchpoints, channels, or devices? How good are your internal processes at supporting customers? Collect both quantitative and qualitative feedback for a better understanding of what you need to do to bridge the gap.
Quantitative data can be collected using tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg. This data tells you what is happening on your site, while qualitative data tells you why it is happening. Qualitative data can be sourced using tools like Qualaroo. When you combine these insights you can identify areas of the experience that are underperforming, and leverage the feedback to make informed improvements.
Use the actionable data you captured in step one to set strategic goals for your new customer experience strategy. What do you expect to gain from improving your customer experience? New customers? Higher revenue? Expansion into new markets?
Once you determine your goal(s), you can pinpoint your objectives. Knowing what you now know about your customer and your existing customer experience, what action do you need to take to achieve your goal(s)?
Here at Nansen we use a strategy called SOAP (Strategy On A Page). We deploy this approach in a workshop session where we collaborate with clients to create a vision statement that defines what success will look like. In that initial session, we agree on key business strategies and develop the goals for each strategy. We also establish individual KPIs (key measurements and performance indicators) for each strategy. With all key stakeholders in agreement, we’re able to produce a deliverable that can be leveraged by the entire organization.
Use your newfound knowledge and ambition to design a profile of your customer’s preferred experience and map her journey. If you have multiple buyer personas, you may have to come up with variations of that journey. Remember, personalization is a must-have, not a ‘nice to have.’ Buyers expect every interaction with your brand to be tailored and relevant. Identify your opportunities to make an impression.
You’ll want to map out the complete end to end customer journey, not just the interactions your customer currently has with your brand. This helps you find opportunities to engage with customers where your competitors are not. Throughout this exercise, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and see things from their point of view. At Nansen, we use the How Might We technique to help our customers accomplish this.
i.e. “How might we help [customer x] to achieve [goal y]?
e.g. “How might we help Jeff check-in at his hotel quicker?”
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Focus on making improvements to the most problematic aspects of your existing customer experience first. And only prioritize objectives that will help you meet your long term goals.
We recommend our customers prioritize “moments of truth” interactions in the customer journey first. This includes any point in the journey where a single negative experience runs the risk of ruining the whole experience with the brand. Next, we perform an effort vs. impact assessment to identify areas that will give our customers the greatest return on investment at the lowest total cost of ownership.
Time to put your plans into action. But this is only going to work if it’s a top-down initiative. Develop a client-focused culture by encouraging your teams to work backward from your ideal customer experience to the products or services you offer. Give existing employees a set of guiding principles to help with this, and, moving forward, only hire individuals with this mindset.
Now, what tools can you implement to better support customers? What technology or processes need to be deployed to help you meet objectives and achieve your goals?
Our Nansen Next process enables both the iterative execution of the specific customer experiences that are required, while also focusing on corporate-level innovation, breaking down silos, and uncovering new ideas that will eventually become part of the digital experience we build and maintain for our customers.
Frequently measure your progress against your goals and adjust your strategy accordingly. Your customer experience strategy will never be “finished.” As long as markets, industries, and consumerism continue to evolve, your goals will be moving targets.
To help discover areas that might need to be adjusted, we work with our clients to help convert the progress into learnings through an A/B Testing strategy or by utilizing tools such as Optimizely where we can replace any assumptions with evidence-based outcomes.
In a study by American Express, 60% of consumers said they were willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Providing a standout customer experience is critical to the success of your business, especially in the existing climate. In 2020, companies that lack a well-researched and comprehensive customer experience strategy will be left behind.
Need help crafting your new or improved customer experience strategy? Contact us.