2015 – The year of the sheep and Customer Experience

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According to Chinese Zodiac 2015 is the Year of the Sheep and it starts today, Feb 19th – So happy new sheep year!

According to E-Consultancy and Adobe 2015 is the year of Customer Experience.

In a survey involving 6,000 business professionals with a digital focus, it was identified that Customer Experience was the standout imperative for 2015 and beyond.

2014 was the year for Content Marketing. Content Marketing is far from being swept under the mat and forgotten about – it has become more of a ‘Business as Usual’ opportunity and consumer experience (CX) has now superseded it as the new shiny toy everyone wants to focus on and invest resource into.

CX isn’t anything new and it’s been around since the dawn of retail – however, it hasn’t been the number one focus for the majority of businesses before now.

 

So why has 2015 become the year of CX?

The main reason is that there are a few companies out there showing the rest of you up – that’s why. Customer expectations are now pretty high due to sites like Amazon, ebay and my personal favourite Zappos (I like a good shoe).

If you have the time Delivering Happiness by Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh, is a great read

and outlines how focusing on culture and the happiness of your team translates into happy customers, through improving CX.

These companies leading in CX have in turn made brands around the world realise they need to focus on customer satisfaction or even better customer DELIGHT, every time they engage with their brand in an attempt to achieve customer loyalty or even the holy grail of brand evangelists.

CX has its challenges, companies need their teams to unite and weave together technological infrastructures, databases and operations to provide the optimal customer experience.

But it IS worth it!

The real challenge is for organisations to create memorable experiences that differentiate themselves. Almost everything a company does is part of CX, from the moment a potential customer sees a search result or banner ad the customer experience has begun and it continues until the customer decides to finish it. Everything an organisation does needs to be about the customer experience. Everything else just represents tools that can be used to achieve that goal.

Creating excellent CX is complex and you need to be committed to the long hall – a structured long term view of delighting your customers.

It isn’t simple and for many organisations, the goal of turning CX into a competitive advantage means recreating themselves, which involves a cultural shift. All aspects of the business are involved and decisions made in HR and Finance are just as important to CX as those made in product and marketing – everything is interconnected.

Because everything is interconnected a cultural shift in your organisation needs to underlie any CX initiatives. It is a necessity to get your teams (of hundreds or even thousands) to realign their thinking if any CX improvements are desired. You need to prioritise customer centric qualities over other business goals and this needs to run through your entire organisation. The result of which is a team where everyone is thinking about the customer – which opens the door for creativity for every team at every level.

It’s a long term opportunity.

Of the 6,000 respondents thousands outlined that CX is the number one way they hope to differentiate themselves over the next five years. The commoditisation of products and services in many sectors has meant price wars, however only 5% of respondents see themselves differentiating themselves through price.

The main areas of CX that have the potential for you to separate your brand from that of your competitors include:

Personalisation: This replies on technology as its backbone but it is human insight that makes it meaningful to customers. Great personalisation is fundamental to relevance, however done wrong personalisation feels intrusive and unnecessary.

Value: This is the result of cost and perceived benefit. Hence marketing needs to be a two way affair, the customers voice to your organisation and your organisation to the customer.

Fundamentals if you want to become a CX-focused company:  

Customers want to know what to expect – they need consistency and the experience should meet expectations set through media on every device and touch point.

Your marketing team needs to be mobile ready – it’s expected by your customers and potential customers.

All interactions need to be safe and fast. Online if customers are concerned about their data – they’re gone, plus they won’t be back if the experience is slow or clunky.

Brad has spent many years working on client side, developing digital strategies and managing teams to implement those strategies. He understands the challenges and priorities from an online marketer’s perspective ­ the high targets, tight budgets and the education required to gain internal buy ­in to digital strategies. He also likes riding his Mt bike and telling stories about all the mountains he has climbed before becoming a Dad.

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