One place where many brands seem to be falling short, is in giving customers meaningful experiences.
Make customers happy, and they’ll keep coming back for more. Ideally, that’s how it should work. So why do so many consumers often seem disappointed about their purchasing experience? Companies constantly try to one-up each other by offering the latest technology or pushing eye-catching logo changes. However, the one place where many brands seem to be falling short is in giving customers meaningful experiences.
Companies are noticing the disconnect. In the last few years, there’s been a shift to refocus on setting up real connections that consumers appreciate. That’s not just happening in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space. There are also similar movements in business-to-business (B2B) interactions. Whether a company makes its pitch primarily to general consumers or other businesses, the goal is to build loyalty while making the purchasing process seamless.
Some organizations have looked to technology as a magical solution for providing a better customer experience (CX). However, no amount of AI or other automation will help if companies don’t work to get a complete picture of the wants and needs of consumers. That means moving on from outdated methods of collecting feedback to drive CX strategies.
Organizations looking to the future of CX should look for ways to boost how they gather insights on customers to better anticipate behavior, fix ongoing CX problems, and find new opportunities for CX enhancements.
Despite organizations focusing on improving brand digital experiences, 58% of customers who responded to a Gartner survey indicated the changes made little impact on their buying habits. Part of the problem is that 46% of those same consumers indicated they couldn’t tell the difference between the experience provided by most brands.
That’s a view of how things feel in the B2B space. What about the B2B world? According to research conducted by Deloitte, it’s clear that B2B customers are not impressed by outdated business approaches. It’s a big reason why 75% of sellers made plans to increase investments in improving customer experiences².
There doesn’t appear to be a lack of will from B2B or B2C brands to create better interactions with their customer base. However, current efforts don’t seem to be translating in a way where consumers are feeling those impacts.
Customers appear ready to reward companies and brands who manage to get it right. Among B2B customers, 32% state they would be more likely to purchase from a company if they managed to master the delivery of quality customer experiences.
Another 32% say that factor would encourage them to sign a new contract with a current seller. B2C customers show similar enthusiasm, with 37% saying that brands could impact their preferences by finding a way to change course.
At its heart, better CX is about improving communication with customers. Companies must listen to what consumers are saying and provide an appropriate response. However, they can’t stop there. Whether they work in a B2B or B2C environment, businesses need to continue following up with customers to keep the relationship strong and make better CX decisions in the future.
Here are a few reasons why so many businesses stumble at getting CX right.
In today’s business world, data is key to understanding customers. Unfortunately, many companies don’t have a sufficient volume of data coming in from consumers. Because they don’t have enough information, businesses lack a complete picture of what customers want. That prevents them from deriving meaningful insights that help with crafting more personalized CX.
To change that, brands need to provide a way for customers to offer responses in every potential interaction channel. These include email, social media, post-call surveys and the company website. Bringing in a steady stream of consumer feedback also helps businesses understand consumer behaviors, which can be helpful to CX teams looking for ways to manage the customer journey better.
Omnichannel refers to a sales approach designed to help businesses give customers a seamless shopping experience. This could include walking into a retail shop or making selections using a smartphone. Omnichannel focuses on integrating the experiences consumers have within all available shopping channels.
An example would be a customer going into a brick-and-mortar store. The store clerk who helps them could pull up information on their previous purchases and preferences. If a customer accesses the store’s online shop, they could purchase an item online and then pick it up at a physical location.
However, not having a plan to handle different touchpoints makes it harder to set up consistent CX for consumers in all channels. It’s not enough to purchase a CRM with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other technological advancements.
The strategy brands put in place should have strong input from the IT department. In addition, they need help from personnel who understand how to leverage information collected from different channels to create more streamlined shopping experiences. That way, brands can let customers look up the price of a product online and where it might be available locally.
To make that work, companies need strategies for centralizing content management to enable flexible shopping opportunities for consumers. Having a solid strategy goes a long way toward helping businesses set themselves apart from lagging competitors.
Even when organizations manage to get quality input from customers, it’s not often communicated throughout the company. Certain members of the marketing team might have some awareness. However, that kind of information should be distributed within an organization and become part of the culture.
Businesses capable of delivering strong CX understand the importance of closing that feedback loop. They ensure that new trends and information about changes in customer behavior make their way to everyone in a position to affect a customer’s experience with the company. Push that information beyond the C-Suite and into all strategic planning sessions.
A common problem within many organizations is the persistence of informational silos. You have the production department storing information in one database, while the marketing team keeps their insights in a different one.
First, that leads to a lack of continuity in how each department handles CX. Every area has its piece of the puzzle, but no way to get a view of the entire picture. That often leads to wrong assumptions about what to prioritize regarding CX.
Another problem with separating data in this way is that it can lead to outdated views on what customers desire. There are a lot of variables involved in the customer journey. Every business area tasked with helping carry the CX load must have the latest information at its fingertips.
To start, organizations should try to consolidate enterprise data in a centralized repository like a customer data platform (CDP). That gives everyone access to a unified view of customers. In addition, making customer information accessible from one place makes it easier to update data for use in advanced analytics that offer insights into customer behavior and help companies forecast future purchasing trends.
Many of the CX challenges outlined here require technologies designed for that purpose. However, many companies try to “make do” with platforms already being used. Commitment to better CX doesn’t mean much if businesses aren’t willing to bring in software capable of performing the kind of analytics necessary for better CX.
That goes for the infrastructure to support omnichannel and the ability to perform sentiment analysis. With the right tools, organizations can use AI and other intelligence to extract targeted insights from consumer data.
Retailers like Amazon managed to perfect the art of creating unique digital customer experiences. Customers who log into their account immediately see a curated selection of potential purchases based on their past shopping habits. Everyone sees something different based on their use history.
Every point of contact that a person has with Amazon is personalized. Customers have come to expect that from interactions with every retailer. In addition, they’re looking for multiple personal touchpoints that help them figure out exactly where they want to spend their time and money.
It’s not about sending offers to customers targeted to others like them. Companies in the B2B and B2C space need to find a way to let each customer know they’re looking at them as an individual. All communications, products, and offers sent should have unique relevancy to each person.
Achieving personalization at scale, where companies manage to enable personal interactions with a large segment of their customers, can boost revenues for retailers. In addition, businesses can reduce marketing costs by a significant margin.
Because of customer expectations, brands need to find a way to respond to the demand from consumers for more personalized services. It’s essential if companies hope to differentiate themselves substantially from competitors. When done correctly, CX can allow businesses to go beyond merely surviving, but find ways to grow and thrive in today’s competitive atmosphere.
So, what can B2B and B2C companies do to get it right when it comes to delivering better CX? PWC research shows that 86% of customers will pay more for better service. In addition, they’re more likely to make impulse purchases after having a great experience.
When it comes to better CX, B2C sellers need to account for all interactions customers have when moving through different phases of the buying process. Let’s look at how they can upgrade the ways they deliver unique, tailored CX to consumers.
It often costs businesses more to acquire new customers than to retain old ones. Companies need to make current customer satisfaction a priority in their quest to deliver better CX. They should review the overall business relationship with consumers and figure out how to address the pain points.
For example, what causes customers to leave and go to another competitor? Why is it that customers fail to return for follow-up purchases? Once businesses understand where they are going wrong, they should develop strategies to help address the issue by figuring out how to offer more personalized services that make customers happy.
Don’t wait until customers start leaving to start making CX changes. Loyal customers are more likely to return for future purchases. One bad experience can convince a consumer never to use your service again. They may also leave poor reviews on public feedback sites that cause potential new customers to avoid your company.
Evaluate your CX funnel to determine what’s causing customers to turn away from your brand. Look for ways to lower your churn rate by increasing customer retention. Review data reports that give you insight into how you can make improvements at every channel. Then, turn that information into actions to let customers know how much you appreciate them. One way of showing your commitment is by setting up loyalty programs that reward long-time customers.
Make sure that customers receive a similar experience regardless of how they initiate contact with your company. Find ways to enrich CX based on every individual interaction organically. Mapping out customer journeys is one way businesses can align CX across the organization. That way, it’s easier to deliver streamlined experiences to consumers, which helps build confidence and trust in a company’s brand.
Both B2B and B2C should make it possible for customers to have some form of control. Offering self-service resources like guided web content, search tools, and the help of virtual assistants allow customers to choose how they interact with a company.
This is especially important for B2B companies, who often have tunnel vision about improving the value of a product above all else. Businesses need to use data in ways that optimize the customer journey and help organizations gain a better understanding of what it takes to keep clients happy.
In their quest to shift to a CX-first mindset, organizations should start by changing the cultural mindset, especially among leadership. Everyone should understand the importance of data but not use it to the point where companies remove the human element from their interactions with customers.
As expectations around CX evolve, companies must find better ways to communicate with consumers. B2B companies can’t rely on outdated surveys to judge whether clients remain happy with their service. B2C organizations should enable multiple touchpoints for consumer interactions.
While the future of CX lies in using predictive, data-driven technology, there’s always a place for organizations to add highly personalized services that improve CX.