In business, the customer experience is critically important to success. A customer perception and the perceived value of a product are at the core of a company’s brand development strategy. Many firms focus intensely on providing an excellent product or service, in order to create a positive perception among customers, which is then leveraged to create profit. However, customer perception is only one part of the formula for success. The other components of a good customer experience are equally important if a company wishes to be highly successful.
A successful customer experience plan should consider several key factors, such as, but not limited to, competitive insight, market trends, and consumer preferences. Market research is important as it allows for the study of competing products and services in the marketplace to aid in formulating an appropriate customer acquisition strategy. Consumer preferences are likewise essential because they affect purchase decisions and the types of purchases that are more likely to be repeated. Lastly, competitive insight refers to a company’s ability to anticipate and manage threats from similar businesses. This allows a company the opportunity to develop a competitive advantage and stay ahead of the competition.
The three basic components of customer experience that a firm must master are understanding, identifying, and delivering the correct message to customers. Customers are complex individuals who have different purchasing habits and characteristics. Understanding customer needs is the first step to developing an effective communication strategy to address customer expectations. Consumers are much more forgiving when mistakes are acknowledged and communicated with clarity. An effective, forthright approach is preferred over a series of inflammatory actions aimed at pleasing, rather than addressing, potential buyers.
In marketing jargon, “brand equity” is a “network of consumers that effectively share a common vision and purpose.” A powerful brand experience strategy addresses this concept by encouraging customers to participate in conversations about their experiences with your company. For example, if a loyal customer has purchased your product within a particular social media network and likes the way the company advertises its products, this customer will likely become engaged and share positive reviews with friends, family, and coworkers.
Identifying and Measuring Customer Needs
A strong customer experience strategy around customer needs enables organizations to address these core issues with more precision. Organizations should ask detailed questions that take into account the core behaviors, tastes, attitudes, and behaviors of potential customers. Answers to these questions can forecast which segments of customers may need additional services, or which ones will be able to tolerate delays in order to receive promised enhancements. Organizations also need to have a system for measuring customer satisfaction. Customers tend to be forgiving when a product delivered to them meets their expectations, but they expect swift and decisive action when service does not meet expectations.
Real-Time Customer Experience
In order to create an effective solutions delivery model, a business should identify and measure key customer behaviors and reactions. This enables businesses to fine-tune their designs to accommodate the unique needs of various segments of their target market. Achieving real-time customer engagement improves organizations’ ability to create engaging web pages and ads, which make the company’s brand and offerings more accessible and enticing to buyers. Real-time customer engagement also leads to greater customer loyalty, which results in better profits.
This blog was written by Ingrid Lindberg, a customer experience speaker and founder of Chief Customer. Her work has spanned the Fortune 500 – including Finance, Healthcare, CPG, Telco and Retail, working with companies to create differentiating customer experience strategies and cultures.