Research confirms and we know this intuitively, positive customer experiences will keep our customers coming back. No one wants to continue doing business with a company after a bad experience, poor customer service, wrong product shipments that aren’t quickly rectified,  or for any number of other reasons that can ruin a consumer’s attitude towards a brand.

According to research by Accenture,  72% of consumers have switched brands after a poor customer experience. Of the 11 industries that were surveyed, retail consumers were most likely to switch after a negative experience (30%).

And perhaps just as bad, 73% of those who switched said they would not consider doing business with the brand again.

Respondents reported the following negative customer service experiences to be their most frustrating:

  • Contacting customer service multiple times for the same reason (86%)
  • Being put on hold for a long time (85%)
  • Customer service agents who cannot answer the questions (84%)
  • Repeating the same information to multiple customer service agents (83%)
  • The company delivering something different than what they promised up front (83%)
  • Unfriendly or impolite customer service agents (82%)

According to another report by The CMO Survey, customer experience is more important than product and service quality to consumers – and this trend is expected to continue to rise.

In the pre-digital age, creating positive customer experiences was much easier. When customers enter your store or call your contact center, greet them politely, be helpful, and go out of the way to show them that “the customer is king”. However, we are now fully immersed in the age of digital, and consumers are interacting with brands across more channels. Having friendly sales staff is only half the battle – today’s consumers expect to be understood across multiple channels and will head to the competition if they aren’t provided with a seamless experience.

So what is the answer? Here are 4 things you should be doing now to create positive customer experiences:

  1. Integrate Your Data
    I can’t stress the importance of this enough. As your customers interact with you across email, brick-and-mortar establishments, call centers, e-commerce sites, and other channels, each of these interactions contain important customer details which may end up in separate systems. So for example, Mary, a valued customer, may place multiple on-line orders over the course of several months. She also responds to email promotions and heads into your store to make a purchase with her store credit card. She then calls customer service with a complaint about a wrong item shipment. Each of these sources of information about Mary must be integrated into a single data mart or data warehouse to better understand who she is and what she values.
  2. Analyze Your Data
    With an integrated marketing database in place, you can achieve a 360-degree customer view to really hone in on your customer’s preferences. Analyze traits such as purchase history, channels, lifestyles, interests, and so on.  By better understanding important consumer traits, you can send personalized offers and recommendations through the channels your customers most prefer.
  3. Personalize Experiences
    Consumers view personalized recommendations as an important part of the customer experience. Personalizing communications with names is a good beginning, but consumers are really looking for personalized recommendations and offers. Research shows that 45% of consumers are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations, and 56% are more likely to return to a site that recommends products.There is obviously huge uplift when personalizing consumer interactions, but marketers are often unaware of the negative impacts of sending impersonal messaging. A recent survey revealed that 67% of consumers have unsubscribed from an email list when sent irrelevant information. An additional 43% ignored future communications from the company, and 32% stopped visiting the company’s website or mobile app.

  4. Create a Customer Journey Map
    Customer journey maps can help you better understand your customers and identify gaps between expectations and reality. Consider the following example as a customer purchases a car:

    Each touch point on the customer journey should be optimized for the best experience. So if a financing offer for example is different from what is actually promised, this one negative experience will outweigh all other positive touch points. Consumers will go through different journeys as they shop and research across multiple channels on their path to purchase. It’s important to understand and map out the different journeys your customers are taking to ensure each experience is optimized to the fullest.

Brands can no longer compete based solely on the quality of their products and services. Customer experiences are quickly outweighing the “best value for the buck” mentality. Consumers are willing to pay more for positive experiences, and for those companies who are delivering, research shows they typically grow at double the rate of their competitors. And when you don’t deliver, you can lose your competitive edge very quickly.

Download our Business Intelligence Guide to learn how to use data and analytics to better understand your customers and improve their experiences.