In today’s crowded marketplace, brands that deliver personalized customer experiences gain an automatic advantage.
Recognizing this, companies are continually looking for ways to better engage with consumers. So much so, that by 2022, CMOs in the U.S. will spend over $122 billion on investments in improved marketing technology and services (Forrester). Budgets are being retooled, with fewer dollars allocated towards media and more for marketing process automation, advertising technology, innovation, and database and analytics tools—all aimed at supporting improved digital engagement.
As part of the digital revolution currently underway, the customer experience has become top-of-mind for leaders. What are five simple things you can and should be doing to provide differentiated experiences for your current and potential customers?
1. Create a multi-faceted team. To deliver on your promise, all responsible parties need to work in unison. Building an interactive customer experience is not one individual team’s responsibility,nor does it reside in one functional area; rather, it requires specialists from a variety of disciplines. This could include the following teams from across an organization, all working towards a collective goal:
Digital experience—Tasked with unifying the company around the customer, this team has the vision and know-how to achieve the desired outcome, while simultaneously relying on peers to deliver some of the elements.The binding force within, the DX team should be focused on all touchpoints.
Marketing—Charged with growing the company’s customer base, this team goes beyond customer acquisition into customer satisfaction.They are driven by understanding whom to engage, designing what the journey looks like, tailoring the experience, and maintaining contact over the life of the customer.
Technology—Driving innovation and choosing the right platforms and tools, the technology team ensures all systems are integrated and may explore outside solutions if needed.
Data and analytics—Without customer data, an organization can’t deliver a meaningful experience. Providing the insights needed, this team considers the best way to procure, manage, and enrich the data so that it feeds systems of engagement.
2. Join forces early and often. Be intentional about bringing the team together to have conversations upfront—when beginning the endeavor—and regularly throughout the process. This will ensure you’redeveloping the roadmap together, are collaborating and communicating, and avoiding potential problems along the way.
3. Avoid sameness. It’s important to be mindful of what peers in your space are doing to reach customers. That said, experience sameness is becoming far too common, for example, retailer apps allow shoppers to buy online and pick-up in-store and airline apps allow fliers to check-in. What began as a differentiator for brands is now an expectation. To offer your customer something unique, invest in architecture that combines software, custom codes,and data to create new experiences.
4. Be mindful of customer preferences and privacy. There is growing urgency to properly manage customers’personal information. With the California Consumer Privacy Act going into effect in 2020, it’s only a matter of time before additional states adopt similar protections—and it’s in your best interest to get and stay ahead of this.Always be aware of the requirements, put systems and processes in place now so that you A) know where customer information is stored, B) can quickly take action to turn it off or delete it altogether, and C) are in the position to demonstrate these capabilities to avoid any financial ramifications. Managing the complexity of data storage requires discipline and should be a top priority.
5. Consider bringing on an expert. Depending on your company’s needs, budget, timeline, and internal capacity, it may be more efficient to enlist the help of an agency partner that specializes in the development and delivery of digital experiences. The right one will understand and have experience with the convergence of data and design—recognizing the two are inseparable and must work together for the optimal outcome. Bringing strengths across all areas, a specialist will marry data and insights with an aesthetically-pleasing and intuitive experience with the right technology capabilities.
I heard an analogy once that stuck with me: Customer experiences are like icebergs. There are two-parts—what you see above water and that beneath the surface. It’s easy to understand the consumer touchpoints, but there’s so much underwater that’s behind the experience. Design is important, but the ability to deliver on the technologies, applications, and integrations are an equal part of the heavy-lifting. Ultimately, you need it all to deliver the best concepts to the end user.