Gartner tell us that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. Not surprisingly, by the same year, it is expected that the customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. We are less than four years away from 2020, and only a few enterprises have already mastered customer experience. The rest grapple with these five challenges, which are still real obstacles to thrilling the customer and gaining a competitive edge:
1. Multichannel customer experience strategy: incomplete or inconsistent
Many enterprises have mastered their primary channel, but creating a consistent experience across all channels requires a trifecta of perfect strategy, flawless implementation, and absolute synergy. It is more than designing a frictionless checkout on an e-commerce site (challenging as that may be in and of itself). It goes beyond infusing elements from one successful channel into the others. Perfecting the multichannel customer experience is about leveraging multiple channels to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
An example of such impeccable seamless experiences comes from Disney. From their website to their mobile apps and social channels; from their “Magic Bands” to their cruise line – a Disney experience is the happiest experience on Earth.
Is that how your customers react to your brand?
2. The responsibility for customer experience: unassigned or shared
“The buck stops here,” popularized by US President Truman, needs to permeate corporate customer experience strategy. There must be one person who is ultimately responsible for all things related to customer experience instead of multiple people each managing a different aspect.
While customer experience must be a cross-functional effort, with collaborators from many departments, there needs to be one person who is responsible for the data analysis and ongoing strategic decisions. This person acts as the “owner” of the customer experience strategy – from vision through execution, and leads the teams that work on realizing the vision. By having a single leader, the customer experience strategy has a single direction and does not get in its own way of success.
3. Mobilizing: responsive isn’t a strategy
When it comes to a mobile customer experience, some enterprises think that a mobile-optimized, or “responsive” website is adequate. However, given that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience, enterprises would be wise to take their mobile customer experience to the next level.
Enterprises need to invest in a mobile experience that utilizes advanced technologies. For example, retailers may take advantage of location information to push notifications to users who are physically near their store.
A great example of an effective mobile strategy is Starbucks, whose app enables “coffeeholics” to order their cup o’ Joe before they arrive at the store, pay, and collect rewards points – all on mobile.
Theirs is an example of a mobile experience that is different from (and better than!) the desktop site experience. 85% of adults think that a company’s mobile site should be as good as, or better than, their desktop site. Starbucks has mastered this with their mobile experience – have you?
4. All touchpoints: a disjointed experience?
Every time a customer (or potential customer) encounters your brand, are they getting a consistent and unified experience? Every touchpoint is another opportunity to communicate your message and convey the feelings that you want customers to associate with your brand.
A disjointed experience curtails revenue growth, according to Kapost, because it confuses the customers and hinders their journey toward conversion.
Ads, websites, emails, customer service chats/calls, retail locations, product packaging – all of these must align in a cohesive experience. A great example of a brand with a unified experience across all touch points is Apple. It has been argued that customers’ loyalty to, and evangelization of, the Apple brand comes from the unique multi-touchpoint experience.
5. Understanding data: what vs why
Big data has gone from a privilege of conglomerates to a requisite of any business. Armed with tools that are standard business issue (a la Google Analytics), an enterprise can easily track and monitor everything that customers do on their websites, for example. However, in many cases, this is a burden disguised as a benefit.
Fed too much data, but provided too little insights about how to improve, enterprises can stagger under enormous data sets that explain what is happening, but not why it happens, or how to fix it.
Overcoming these challenges
These five roadblocks are barriers for all types of businesses, across all sectors, in every region. Where good companies may identify their challenges, great companies solve them in these two ways:
Customer experience is best left in the hands of the experts. Companies that realize this prioritize the customer experience and hire the people who have the talent, experience, and passion to:
- Analyze user data properly and glean insights
- Use the insights to develop a sophisticated and coherent customer experience strategy
- Implement the strategy across all channels and touchpoints, especially mobile
Hiring the right people is an important first step. Arming them with the right resources and tools ensures that they will be basing their decisions on accurate data, insightful analyses, and innovative solutions. A digital conversation is an opportunity to learn about the needs and intent of the customer. The right customer experience tool will eliminate rough spots in each customer’s journey, transform raw data into meaningful and actionable insights, and add significant value to the business.
How to get started
As with many problems, when it comes to customer experience, the first step is recognizing that you have a problem.
Although you can, with the help of a good team, obtain several insights about your customer journey, the bigger the enterprise, the more there is to uncover. Start by consulting with UX professionals who can drill down into every aspect of the customer journey, using cutting edge tools combined with their own expertise. They will be able to aggregate the data to deliver insights to you about which channels or touchpoints to optimize – and how.
Then, based on those recommendations, you can create a complete multi-channel customer experience strategy that optimizes for people rather than numbers. And of course, once this new strategy is implemented, be sure to continually monitor and optimize, optimize, optimize.