As consumers increasingly move from their traditional in-store shopping habits to researching, choosing and purchasing products online, customer experience has become the mantra for today’s marketers. They strive to reach the customer at every touchpoint along the journey, looking to deliver personalized experiences that will not only close the sale but keep the customer coming back for more.
This means creating a relationship with the customer that is good not just for today, but for the foreseeable future. In this fast-changing, increasingly digital world, building strong customer relationships like this is the key to building a great business. The challenge is even greater now as global disruptions occur with alarming regularity—whether it’s political unrest, economic meltdowns or a pandemic.
How can brands best build lasting relationships with their customers, and measure their value?
A new, global study called Experience 2030: The Future of Customer Experience provides insights into the mind of the future consumer and on the action brands can take now to grow, evolve and thrive, for the long term.
A key finding of the study is that by 2030, 67 percent of digital customer engagements between a brand and consumer will be completed by smart machines rather than humans. And by 2030, 69 percent of the decisions that are made today during a customer engagement by human agents, will be completed by smart machines.
According to the report, brands are investing heavily in emerging tech to face new realities. For example, 54 percent of brands are investing in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) to help consumers visualize the look or use of a product or service remotely. And 53 percent of brands are pursuing AR/VR tools to improve product use and self-help.
There is no doubt that smart technology will be able to aggregate mountains of customer data from online channels and beyond and extract valuable insight from that data with speed and precision.
Analysis of this treasure trove of data will facilitate the kinds of measurement that the C-Suite wants to see from their colleagues in marketing – measurements that link investment to business outcomes. Return on investment is more important than ever when COVID-19 is squeezing budgets across the region.
Types of measurement include:
Customer engagement measures. This category examines the effectiveness of your customer experience efforts – in other words, the health of your customer relationships.
Operations performance measures. This category assesses the efficiency of customer experience activities.
Corporate business measures. This category assesses customer experience contribution to overall corporate value.
Corporate metrics incorporate available financial and market data to link customer engagement and operational performance to the firm’s top and bottom lines. Examples of this include revenue, growth, margins, market and wallet share, and other productivity measures. Tying everything together, these metrics are often the ones that matter most to the executive team.
These are sophisticated approaches to marketing metrics that regional companies, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), would be wise to study and adopt. The purpose of measuring customer experience is well understood – after all, if you don’t measure you can’t improve. However, as the nature of retail changes and customer behavior becomes more complex and sophisticated, simple customer satisfaction surveys are no longer going to provide the insights that brands need for enduring growth and success.
There is one crucial caveat to the technological revolution that is transforming customer experience, and that is a generally held negative view of marketing. Consumers don’t want to feel they are being marketed to. They want a partnership with the organizations they buy from; they want to feel understood, listened to, and appreciated. Therefore, great care must be taken to ensure that the technology does not get in the way or de-personalize the relationship
A research study found for example that despite the increasing use of chatbots, consumers for the most part continue to want human interaction. Apart from the convenience of 24-hour service, respondents to the study consistently said live chats with human beings were preferable to chatbots for a variety of reasons, including convenience, ease of communication and good customer experience.
Data analytics has an unprecedented ability to provide insights that, when acted on correctly, will deliver experiences that enhance the relationship. However, this capability must never make the customer feel they are the subject of a digital experiment.
As organizations set their experience measurement framework to map their customers’ journeys, their aim must be to create customer intelligence. They must rigorously identify the touchpoints that leave indelible impressions and develop metrics for each of those critical interactions.
The objective is to truly understand the customer, and that means the actionable insights derived from these measurements should go beyond short-term objectives or higher conversation rates. With the multitude of data that can be derived from a customer – From their search and click behavior, to their email responses and their purchase decisions and more, there is much potential to truly understand the customer.
With purchase decisions more often driven by emotion than by logic, the ability of data analytics to measure sentiment brings with it a multitude of possibilities for brands to establish an empathetic connection with their customers, and to take personalization to the next level.
At the end of the day, the key is in balancing what that customer experience measurement result tells while capturing the heart of your customers.
The writer is head of customer intelligence, ASEAN, Sustainable Agrifood Systems. These views are personal.
Published at Sun, 10 Jan 2021 22:30:00 +0000