Customer expectations are at an all-time high, and the pressure is on to meet or exceed them. As consumers consistently compare every new interaction against their last best experience, it’s more important than ever to identify customer needs and eliminate pain points.
I like to take a very simple approach I refer to as “know me, help me, value me” to break down the steps to a successful customer experience strategy – one that best addresses customer expectations. But before we can strategize meeting them, we need to understand what shapes customer expectations.
There are three main factors that contribute to shaping customers’ expectations: hyper-personalization, convergence, and experience design.
Companies like Amazon have led the charge toward a hyper-personalized customer experience, and consumers have come to expect the same treatment from other brands. They want you to understand their habits and preferences, so you don’t waste their time on products or services they’ll never buy.
In order to develop this deep understanding, companies are moving on from merely getting direct customer feedback, expanding to develop Voice of the Customer programs that include data collection and analysis to get into the mind of the customer — knowing their thoughts before they even voice them. This is key to true hyper-personalization.
Personalized experiences are the gold standard, while non-personalized experiences lead to customer churn – for example, one study found that 47% of online retail customers will abandon their cart and go to Amazon instead if the retailer they’re currently shopping with doesn’t provide relevant product recommendations.
Convergence is crucial to a successful customer experience plan — for example, today’s consumers have little patience for asynchronous interactions or having to repeat themselves every time they communicate with a new agent.
If you can’t achieve full integration of your customer experience technologies, you should at least aim for convergence and eliminating siloing. The back and front offices need to be in sync too, to provide a seamless customer experience.
Ultimately, the goal is the convergence of your consumer and your enterprise. Consumers’ expectations carry over from their personal lives to their business interactions, and your organization needs to be focused on meeting them where they are.
Your customer experience design is the thread that runs through everything you do, that pulls the bigger picture together, to shape and deliver an effective customer journey. A strategic design is the first step toward the end goal: delivery of a meaningful, memorable customer experience.
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Know Me, Help Me, Value Me
A strong customer experience strategy is centered around delivering on three main customer needs: ‘know me,’ ‘help me,’ and ‘value me.’ Doing all three ensures you deliver on your customers’ emotional and functional needs. Delivering these experiences results in an increase in customer retention and enables you to differentiate your organization from your competitors – ultimately boosting your organization’s bottom line.
The foundation of stellar customer experience is empathy. By gaining a deep understanding of your customers’ channel preferences and habits, you’ll be better enabled to add value to their experience.
Here are a few tools that can help you collect data and gain a 360-degree view of your customers:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software provides a centralized location for customer data, integrating customer interactions across all channels and leading to a more seamless understanding of your consumers.
- Web Analytics Software can tell you about your customers’ journey across and through your website, helping you understand where they’re more engaged and where they’re likely to drop out of your sales funnel.
- Your Contact Center holds data from your customers’ interaction with service agents, whether by chatbot, email, or phone – this information is invaluable in the search for understanding. From pain points to product questions and everything in between, your contact center has that data.
- Third Party Data providers can augment your own customer data with data from similar demographics to your customer base, broadening your understanding of your customer persona.
Make sure all the data sources you use are working in harmony so you can get a complete picture of your customers. When you truly understand your customer you’ll be positioned to help them more effectively.
The best help is the kind you didn’t even know you needed yet, so be proactive and try to anticipate your customers’ needs. The understanding you’ve gained in the ‘know me’ stage should be useful here.
For challenges and issues you didn’t foresee, address them as quickly as possible and communicate with the customer frequently to let them know you’re listening. Offer a variety of capabilities, from self-service to hands-on, to ensure you’re engaging with your customers in the manner they prefer. All of this will help ease friction points and make your customers feel supported.
Valuing your customers means delivering exceptional service and communication to all your clients, regardless of their demographic or segment. If you’re loyal to them, your customers will be loyal to you.
Consumers are drawn to brands that surprise and delight them, and they stick around when those businesses provide dedicated support that proves they’re valued. If you show empathy throughout the customer’s entire journey, they’ll remember how you made them feel, and they’ll keep coming back.
Mastering ‘know me,’ ‘help me,’ and ‘value me’ will help you build stronger client relationships — remember, you only have one chance to make a lasting impression, even with hundreds of touchpoints.