Market Well: The Importance of Customer Experience

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Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.

Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Director of Marketing for Equinox in the UK, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.

Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is focusing on the importance of creating a positive customer experience…..

Hands up if you’ve ever bent a friend’s ear recounting the frustrations of a poor brand experience. Have you ever decided not to shop with a brand because of that experience?

As much as we hate to admit it, most of us have been tipped over the edge by a frustrating service experience and shared our disgruntlement publicly.

According to Accenture, 61% of customers stopped doing business with at least one company last year because of poor customer experience.

In its customer experience excellence analysis, KPMG Nunwood declared that the UK had fallen significantly behind the US, showing an overall decline in average customer experience scores from 7.33 to 7.08 with only 8% of brands recording an increase.

Research by American Express found that 60% of customers are willing to pay more for a good experience, an observation supported by KPMG Nunwood, which saw a stronger relationship between CX (Customer Experience) and commercial outcome in 2017 compared to previous years, with the top 10 brands in its survey achieving 3 times the revenue growth of brands positioned 91-100.

The link between positive customer experience and revenue is impossible to ignore, so much so, that in the Digital Marketing Trends report by Econsultancy and Adobe, CX was named the single most exciting opportunity area for brands this year.

So what is CX? And how can wellness brands go about improving theirs?

Customer Experience vs Customer Service

Unlike customer service, which tends to be reactionary, CX is proactive.

It spans the entire period of consumer interaction with a brand, from consideration to post-purchase. The goal should be to create a seamless journey with peaks of delight to encourage repeat purchase and brand advocacy.

When Bain and Company asked organisations to rate their CX, 80% of those surveyed felt they gave a good experience. Compare that to the consumer response – only 8% of customers felt they have a great experience on average with brands.

How can companies begin to turn this around?

Manage Expectations

The disparity in perceived experience is often down to expectation.

Research by Accenture shows that speed and convenience top the list of importance when looking at what consumers value most.

It found that the main sources of customer frustration were; having to contact a company multiple times for the same reason, dealing with unfriendly or impolite employees and failure to deliver on promises made at the time of purchase.

Disruptive companies like Uber and Amazon have changed our expectations by delivering on promises to send us a taxi at the touch of a button or allowing us to order products for same day delivery without a glitch.

But what if your company is smaller and lacks the capabilities of these giant CX machines? Set expectations from the start by being clear about what you can deliver. If it will take 48 hours for someone to respond to your online feedback form, or there’s no customer service team available at weekends, say so.

When Wah Nails introduced a chatbot for online bookings it made it clear in its chatty brand tone, that the bot could only handle simple single bookings and that calls were necessary for all other requests.

Clarity from the beginning stops the customer getting annoyed by explaining the capabilities from the get-go.

Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.

Image: Myfitnesspal

Map Your Customer’s Journey

The best way to identify potential pain points in your CX is to map the journey.

With so many platforms and channels, customer journeys are complex and it’s unlikely that people will take the same journey or hit every step. Start by reviewing your own platforms and branch out from there.

List out your customer touch points and channels. The list could include physical stores, websites, e-commerce or call centres. Then expand this out to include marketing channels such as emails, blogs and social media posts. Look at product delivery and returns processes, as well as research channels such as customer service, sales team interaction, web lead forms or in-store experience.

For each touch point, review the actions taken by the customer so you can then start to look at their motivation to move to the next stage, their potential questions and frustrations.

It’s a time-consuming process, but so valuable in the long run as you may identify barriers you weren’t aware of. Communication of your brand through marketing investment, for example, is redundant if the experience falls down because of a slow e-commerce procedure or poor delivery.

Think Omni-Channel

Try not to think in terms of channels. Your customers don’t separate digital from physical, as far as they’re concerned it is all brand experience regardless of where or how the interaction happens.

“Brands need to stop thinking about ad campaigns, websites and social media as separate experiences – this soiled thinking creates a fragmented consumer experience,” says Jeff Rosenblum in his book Friction.

Speaking to Harvard Business Review, Tara-Nicolle Nelson said of her time as VP of marketing for MyFitnessPal that “competition was anything that made it harder for customers to live a healthy life. Your competition should be your customers’ obstacles,” she argued.

As you go through your customer’s journey look for anything that jars because that could be the point that you lose someone.

Ask And Listen

Once you’ve reviewed the customer journey, you will need to choose your priority areas of focus. Your decision making should come from customer insight.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously said, “If we can keep our competitors focused on us while we stay focused on the customer, ultimately we’ll turn out all right.”

Back in 2008, Amazon launched frustration-free packaging as a response to ‘wrap rage’. They found that 6000 people across the US were ending up in hospital each year from packaging injuries. Amazon listened and responded. The mere act of opening a delivery impacts customers’ impression of your brand.

Mattress company Casper created an insomniacs chatbot, the Insomnobot3000. The bot allows customers to have a conversation by texting whatever is on their mind. By collecting mobile data and having these interactions, Casper saw $100 million in sales within the first year of launching the bot.

Patagonia is also well known for listening to its customers. Having observed a rise in focus on conscious consumption, it launched its Worn Wear initiative, allowing customers to repair, reuse and resell garments. Some questioned the commercial nature of this approach but it proved so popular that Patagonia sold out of its initial stock of used and reconditioned products within 36 hours, with this area of the business showing a growth rate 25 times higher than that of its regular products.

There is no correct way to approach CX improvements, but by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and staying focused on removing key frustrations you will be able to make a good start.

In next month’s column, we’ll look at the next step of CX improvement – adding peaks to the experience to encourage brand love from your consumers so you can start to see revenue and customer retention benefits.

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