The customer experience is your next competitive battleground. Are you prepared to win it?

You can claim victory by way of this competitive differentiation war by offering the lowest prices or providing a superior, surprising and spectacular customer experience! Yoy may win the price battle, but you will always win the customer experience war. Providing a spectacular experience is more sustainable!

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What Is Customer Experience And Why Is It So Important?

Customer experience is your customer’s perceptions of his or her relationship with your brand. These perceptions result from the collection of their interactions with your brand’s touch points during the customer lifecycle.

The rules change daily. Customer expectations of experience are set and improved by the best in class in an industry – Google, IKEA, Subway and many others. So, with every new improvement or introduction of a new way of doing things, your customer raises the bar and increases your pressure to deliver. Think Amazon’s user experience setting expectations for a B2B software company, or that Apple sets expectations for a retailer, and you start to connect the dots.

5 Key Customer Experience Facts

  1. 80% of U.S. consumers would pay more for a product or service to ensure superior customer experience. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs
  2. 68% of businesses plan to increase their spending on customer experience. (Source: Call Center Executive Priorities)
  3. 44% of consumers consider customer loyalty to be a relic of the past (Source: Avaya and BT Research)
  4. Shoppers use an average of 10.4 sources of information to make a purchase decision (Source: Google)
  5. Referred customers deliver 16% higher lifetime value (Source: Wharton School of Business)

Connect The Dots In The Customer Journey Touch Points

Each customer journey includes touch points – dots you need to connect to draw a holistic experience. You need to increase the value of your relationship currency with at every section of the sales funnel – using social media, content marketing and traditional interactions to connect these dots. The question is, do you have the resources and know-how to connect the dots to draw a winning solution or a scary picture?

Connect the dots puzzleThe Customer’s Customer Requires 10 Key Experiences

Customer experience manifests in social selling, content marketing, social media and every touch point on the customer journey. Your customers don’t want it. They require it. Here are ten experiences your customers demand in today’s economy.

1. Keep the experience simple and easy.
Forest Gump couldn’t have said it any better – “Simple is as simple does.” Brands providing an integrated experience across channels make it simpler and easier for customers to engage. Whether it’s the one-off Google search experience or ordering a sandwich at Subway – two of the most highly ranked ’simple’ brands – a simple and easy experience differentiates your business from the competition. Making it easy to find your brand and consume your content is the key to winning their heart!

Google delivers a simple and successful customer experience for users searching for results!

2. Educate and communicate with your customers.
Your customers do not want to be sold your stuff. They want to be educated on how your stuff can help them – then they will buy! The Home Depot builds a great customer experience by giving away their expertise during their Do-It-Yourself, Do-It-Herself and Kids Workshops! And, Stitch-Fix, the woman’s subscription clothes service, presents possibilities by providing custom combinations printed on in-box instructions. Customers are self-educating, so integrate education and relevant content into their experience. 82% of U.S. digital buyers prefer to research products from multichannel retailers on the internet (Source: March 2014 study by UPS, ComScore, and the E-tailing Group). If you don’t educate your customers, then your competition will! Take the teaching approach with your customers instead of selling to them and they will make you a trusted advisor – with sales becoming an exponential by-product!

3. Quickly resolve the bumps in the road.
You can’t make all of your customers happy all of the time. However, you can resolve most of their bumps in the road – the wrong-sized Boden pants, the missing button on your Stitch-Fix jacket, or even the Amazon Prime order that missed your deadline. Your customers expect resolution – from an under 60-minute response on Twitter to reading a blog post to help self-resolve an issue! Respond to social media outreach and make it easy for customers to easily find content at 2AM to resolve their issue and your will quickly become a part of their ‘family.’

4. Personalize the customer experience.
Smart, connected customers, expect personalized experiences. From REI’s persona-based content marketing strategy targeting (tongue-in-cheek) narcissists who love biking to Nike ID’s custom footwear, customers require an experience that is all about them! A data and analytics strategy gives brands a single-view into individual customers – enabling a positive customized experience.

5. Make it easy to #humblebrag!
Customers love to #humblebrag since it validates their purchase. It’s part of their brand experience – both with you and their community. Brands who strategically integrate a video, pictures and hashtag strategy into the customer experiene score the most points – and social referrals!

6. Deliver a safe and secure experience.
Customers’ heads are spinning with cyber-security breaches. People will share their details to enable a great experience. Just make sure you explain how you are going to securely handle their identity.

7. Surprise and delight your customers.
Marketing automation has created this ‘bland-compliant’ messaging. The customer wants a little personality and delight with their relationship with you. You have to work hard to differentiate yourself from the competition. Surprising and delighting can be as simple as Netflix’s season two House Of Cards Tweet chat with the actors to Mastercard’s #PricelessSurprises campaign featuring Justine Timberlake! Brands can combine a little bit of big data and creativity to create a priceless connection with customers!

8. Be ‘always-on’ to be in the heart and minds of the customer.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is the Millennial’s number one fear. So, you want to be always-on with cross-channel access to your brand – on Instagram and Snapchat – so they never miss out on not missing out. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50 percent of consumer product investments will target customer experience innovation, so investing in an always-on and brand-to-demand strategy makes sense. Translated to the Gen X – it’s staying on top of the newest ‘thing’ to ‘keep up with the Jones’. BirchBox does this well!

9. Mobilize your experience.
With smartphone adoption reaching 70% in the U.S, reported by Asymco, providing a mobile customer experience is not an option, but a requirement! From mobile banking experiences like TD Bank offers or content updates from the Wall Street Journals app, customers want mobile access to your brand. As the man in the old Verizon commercial says “Can you hear me now?”

10. Create the circle of trust for your customers.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, reports Bright Local. The fact of the matter is many customers begin their customer journey amongst their circle of trust. This activity means you need to build a trusting relationship with a great brand experience – using social, mobile, analytics and cloud technology – making it easy for others to communicate their trust. Consumers will continue to build up their trust by using Yelp, Trip Advisor and Amazon Reviews, and their social media networks. How do brands build trust? Listen, respond, and do what you say you are going to do – just like any good relationship.

As Jimi Hendrix kind of said, “Are you (customer) experienced?” If you aren’t, then you aren’t adding value to your customers, and you will lose the battle and the war with your competition.