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It’s a fact that customers seek experiences.

Unparalleled access to information, increasing product and service sophistication and ever evolving needs have driven prospects and customers beyond basic product and services evaluation and consumption to seeking experiences—experiences that address emotion, feeling, value, benefit in a holistic manner.

It’s a fact that prospects and customers are willing to pay more for experiences. For example, according to several studies:

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • 73% of buyers point to customer experience as an important factor in purchase decisions
  • 65% of buyers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising

It’s a fact that businesses focused on and delivering superior customer experiences (CX) outperform their peers by nearly 80%. Customer experience leaders retain a higher wallet share and loyalty in these ways:

  • Customers are 7x more likely to purchase
  • Customers are 8x more likely to try new products and services
  • Customers are 15x more likely to spread positive word of mouth

In light of the staggering advantages to focusing on CX, another survey points out that only 1% of vendors consistently meet CX expectations.

Marketers play a significant role in the identification, validation, communication, management and measurement of a business’s CX. Because of this:

  • 87% of B2B CMOs consider CX to be very important
  • 23% of B2B CMOs have CX in their top three objectives

Why is this? Because 84% of organizations working at improving CX report increased revenues to the business.

Great customer experiences drive new opportunity, revenue and profit.

So, what is customer experience? It is your customer’s perception of how your company treats them, how easy it is to do business with you and the value and benefits they experience. These perceptions affect behaviors and build feelings and memories that drive loyalty.

In business, who carries the responsibility of defining customer experience? You do.

In the past it was the product and services organizations that defined the benefit that a customer would receive based on features, functions, methods, tools and the like.

Today, it is the marketing organization that has oversight and responsibility to build the company’s customer experience identity and brand—harnessing the power of product, service, customer relationship, post-sale customer care, marketing and sales.

As a marketer what do you need to consider and act upon to help your company move from laggard to leader in customer experiences?

1. Establish a strategic vision. Work with your business, product, technology and services leaders to determine an aspirational customer experience that your company wishes to deliver. Involve your customers in the process, integrating their feedback (reality check) to identify gaps that need to be close.

2. Integrate and align stakeholders. Work hard at bringing together common understanding, support, investment and delivery of the business’s customer experience strategy. Customer experience strategy cannot be a bottom up exercise, but must be supported, communicated and measured by senior management of the company. Without alignment and support of key stakeholders, the customer experience will fail.

3. Define your customer experience. Superior customer services don’t just happen on their own. Great customer experiences are defined in a business’s DNA by integrating into processes, style of communication, product and service offering (think product management and marketing), customer service behaviors and how the business goes to market (setting customer experience expectations).

4. Make your brand about the customer experience. People attach to brands more than they do to specific products or services because the brand is the “sum” of their entire experience with you. Therefore, ensure your brand aligns, communicates, delivers and supports a better and more consistent customer experience.

5. Double down on customer service. While marketing and sales tends to focus on pre-purchase awareness, consideration and choice issues, the battlefield for sustained, predictable loyalty is in how you communicate and treat your customer after the sale. Marketing must reach into and help customer service improve their processes and operations to be consistent with the customer experience expectation.

6. Adopt and integrate technology. Customers expect to interact with your company when, where and how they want and not on your terms. Customer experience leaders know this and adopt technologies that allow their prospects and customers to get information, purchase or subscribe (purchase) and get help through automated technology tools.

7. Create an emotional connect with your customers. Over 50% of a purchase decision is based on emotional reasons such as how the process or product/service “feels”, whether the decision and purchase personally or professionally helps them, what their friends or co-workers will think and how the decision will be perceived (good or bad) in the long run.

If you think that an emotion connection is the domain of B2C and doesn’t apply to B2B, think again. Harvard Business Review measured emotional connect in B2B decisions with these findings: 3x more likely to purchase the product/service, an additional 3x more likely to re-purchase, lower likeliness to “shop around” and lower price sensitivity.

8. Radically focus on the customer. Superior customer experiences see customers through the lenses of relationship, never solely as a transaction. Provide opportunity for real-time feedback, through technology, every step of the way—from first contact, through consideration and evaluation, to purchase and even through after-sale care and repurchase through up- and cross-selling experiences. Integrate this feedback into process and experience improvement.

9. Stop following your competition. If the competition delivers a great customer experience, your prospects and customer know it. If you try and duplicate their customer experience there is no differentiation or reason for prospects and customers to choose you. Make sure your customer experience is different—better—in addressing your market, prospect and customer expectations.

10. Customer journeys. Not all customers are the same, having the same expectations. While the customer experience vision remains the same, lead your prospects and customers to that vision through varied “journeys,” each journey adapted to the “uniques” of the targeted segment or behavioral characteristic. One customer experience, many journeys equals success.

11. It’s all about mobile. 62% of B2B buyers indicate that bad mobile experiences diminish customer experience and brand loyalty.

 

CX is marketing. The setting of a vision of a better future, communicating this vision and experience expectations, ensuring that the products and services deliver or exceed expectation and making sure the customer loyalty and satisfaction are cemented for future opportunity.

CX is rewarding. CX leaders outperform CX laggards in:

  • Repurchase: Customers are likely to repurchase 86% of the time (vs. 13% for laggards)
  • Recommend: Customer are likely to recommend 77% of the time (vs. 7% for laggards)
  • Trust: Customers are likely to trust 79% of the time (vs 11% for laggards)
  • Growth: CX leaders have average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% (vs. 3% for CX laggards)

 

Are you a customer experience (CX) leader or laggard? Your business depends on it.

The Afterburner Group has been defining, integrating and delivering great customer experiences for companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries for over 25 years.

If you think that your customer experience is suffering or could benefit from an assessment, definition and rollouot, fill out the contact form below and we’ll explore what that looks like and how you’d benefit.

 

sources: Gartner, Forrester, Dimension, Temkin, Deloitte, McKinsey

Better customer experiences.

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