We’ve all had an experience at one time or another with a brand, whether in person or online, that made us say “Wow!” Perhaps the brand provided a recommendation for a product that matched our exact needs at the moment. Or maybe they did a great job of making us feel welcome as a returning customer by accurately reflecting our prior preferences. Whatever the case, it’s hard to dispute that an unforgettable customer experience is one of the most effective ways for a brand to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.
The Three Objectives of Customer Experience Management
Each brand will define customer experience in a unique and nuanced way, but effective usage of data underlies all efforts. In fact, all experience-driven brands leverage data to accomplish three objectives of customer experience management. Customers expect cohesive, personalized, and timely experiences across all touchpoints of their journey. Let’s talk about why each of these objectives is important:
- A cohesive experience means that no matter how you are engaging with a brand, you receive the same level of service and brand message. For example, say you are planning to stay at a hotel and would like to upgrade your room before you arrive. Ideally, you would be presented with the same options, whether you call customer service or visit the hotel’s website, and the interaction would be friendly and easy.
- A personalized experience is one that brands tailor to you as an individual. Brands use a variety of methods and data sources to better understand their customers. Those that deliver the best experiences leverage available data to customize every touchpoint in the customer journey, allowing consumers to quickly achieve what they were seeking from the interaction.
- A timely experience means giving customers the right message at the time when it’s most relevant. This also requires brands to leverage all available customer data to make real-time decisions on what experience to offer. An ideal timely experience can range from presenting information to engage a potential customer, offering a discount to upsell an existing customer a new product or service, or simply offering post-purchase support.
Download the Complete Customer Experience Report to learn how to create an unforgettable experience that will engage shoppers and improve revenue.
How to Become an Experience-Driven Brand
Why is it important to closely manage your brand’s customer experiences? In a recent study by Forrester, experience-driven companies realize a much higher return on their marketing investment than companies who compete through lower prices or other means. In other words, customer experience management is about more than providing the “wow!” factor; it’s about improving a company’s bottom line.
Many brands desire to be experience-driven but aren’t sure where to begin. There is a myriad of enterprise software platforms built for powering experience businesses, from the initial data collection to marketing automation tools. Deploying these platforms correctly and realizing value from each application can be complex.
Experience-driven brands understand that a common starting point for success is architecting a solution to properly utilize all data available, or potentially available. Most companies have customer data scattered throughout the organization in various systems such as a customer relationship platform (CRM), financial accounting, digital analytics, and performance marketing. Solution architects working with winning brands actively engage each business unit through strategy and business requirement sessions. This allows them to see what data assets they collectively own, what data they collectively lack, and how they can integrate those assets in a way that improves business outcomes.
In addition, connecting technology platforms and systems that are currently siloed helps companies deliver on the promise of consistent, personalized, and timely experiences. Linking together CRM, analytics, optimization, and audience management systems enables rapid response to customer needs across all touchpoints, especially in digital channels.
Ultimately, experience-driven brands must develop a clearly-defined customer experience framework, then architect and develop solutions to capture the required data. In that effort, most successful brands create a center of excellence (CoE) to establish processes specifically for driving customer experience. Many leverage a framework called POST, which stands for People, Operations, Strategy, and Technology. The application of a framework like this will ensure alignment across business units and will reinforce customer-centricity.
Building an experience-driven business requires time, effort, and investment. What benefits can your brand realize from these investments?
- It is a sure-fire method to produce happier and more loyal customers.
- Greater efficiency, improved communication and morale across the organization, faster product launches, and greater revenue are all within reach.
Over the next several articles in this series, we will explore other factors that brands use to create value by using data to drive customer experiences. First, we will be extending the architected solution to focus specifically on the concept of a unified customer profile. This holistic view of an individual allows companies to have an in-depth understanding of that customer across every historical interaction and can provide useful data points for predicting future behavior. Later in the series, we will discuss how insights and optimization efforts allow brands to deliver relevant experiences that change customer outcomes and drive marketing return on investment.