Marketers used to have all the control.
They created their own brand messaging across broad media channels, and consumers had almost no choice but to listen. Over the past decade, however, new technologies have given consumers a chance to communicate their needs and desires back to brands—causing a shift in control over marketing messages.
With this new-found power, consumers now are demanding brands treat them as individuals, know them, remember their preferences, and interact with them in meaningful ways. They expect an exceptional customer experience (CX) from pre-purchase through post-purchase.
What's more, consumers also have a low tolerance for an underwhelming CX. With so many channels and touch points at their disposal, their loyalty is easily diverted, and they aren’t afraid to share unsatisfying brand experiences on their social channels.
This shift in control of marketing messages from the brand to the consumer has changed the rules of the game and created massive disruption across organizations.
The 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey found that “more than two-thirds of marketers say their companies compete mostly on the basis of CX. And in two years’ time, 81% say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.
So brands must strive to regain control of their marketing messages to ensure they provide exceptional experiences on each of their customer channels every time to stay competitive.
Content is key to controlling CX
Every customer has different preferences, needs and desires. So the perfect CX will be different for every person, making it nearly impossible for brands to achieve.
The one common element that all great customer experiences have, however, is great content. You can’t control everything about the customer experience but you can control the content you push out to each group of consumers, and the holistic brand story you want it to tell.
To get ahead of the game with CX, marketers need to ensure all their content is:
Relevant: A "one-size-fits-all” approach no longer works when individual customers have more control. Marketers need to create personalized, engaging content that is meaningful to individual customers.
Convenient: Marketers must deliver messages to customers on their own terms, when and where it is most convenient for them, and via the device and channel of the customer’s choosing.
Consistent: Customers want a consistent brand experience, whether they are shopping in-store, online or via an app.
Valuable: Customers expect a positive experience across the entire journey from pre-purchase to post-purchase.
Brands must deliver CX on every channel
Of course CX is about more than just receiving the right content at the right time. It’s about delighting customers, and meeting and exceeding their expectations. And again achieving that can mean marketers must use different CX tactics for every customer.
For example, some customers prefer to begin their shopping journey by evaluating products in a store, while others want to begin their research online. Others want to begin by receiving emails or texts about deals or offers from a company. As a result, the order of the path each of these groups takes to get to the end purchase also can vary.
As a result, marketers must anticipate and be prepared to provide customer experiences not just on each of these channels but base it on the order in which they get there. This requires getting a lot of things right, such as ensuring:
• Graphics and messaging are consistent across all the communications
• Websites will accept specific offer codes
• Products are available in-store or online for the specified prices
The list of needs and musts that marketers must do for an exceptional CS goes on and on. And if any one of these details falls through the cracks, they could lose a customer from a bad CX, incur a negative online review, and possibly risk decreased future sales.
Delivering an exceptional CX is not easy. But it’s now critical to success.
So to remain competitive, organizations must reverse engineer the methodologies and technologies involved in creating their brand experiences to put the customer first—not their products.
For more insights on enhancing customer experiences, listen to our recently recorded webinar, “Content and the Customer Experience: Best Practices for B2B Marketers”.