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Marketing professionals: Are you sure you’re acing the customer experience?

Byline: Chris Gibbs, General Manager Asia Pacific and Japan, Acquia

Have you heard that customer experience is the key to success but are not sure how to go about doing it better in your own business? You’re not alone.

Many Australian enterprises are not against the idea of improving the quality of their interactions with customers across the lifecycle of their commercial relationship but research suggests that between intention and outcome there lies a considerable gap.

Acquia’s inaugural Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019 published last year found 54 per cent of the Australian consumers surveyed were dissatisfied with the customer experiences they received from local brands. Conversely, only a small percentage of consumers could recall the last time a local brand’s customer experience had exceeded their expectations.

The findings represent a ‘could do better’ report card for Australian businesses, yet, interestingly, local marketing professionals whose remit it is to develop customer experiences saw things in a significantly more positive light.

Almost 90 per cent of those surveyed felt they were hitting the mark when it came to customer experiences.

It’s an ominous disconnect, given the vital role customer experience now plays in determining the fortunes of companies, of all shapes and sizes. In an increasingly crowded market, consumers are replete with choice and businesses which leave them underwhelmed are unlikely to be given a second go.

One thing is certain: superlative customer experiences rarely occur by chance. Businesses which consistently exceed customer expectations typically invest considerable time and resources in doing so.

Here are some ways to surprise and delight your customers by improving the quality of the customer experience you deliver.

Understand the status quo

It’s easy to assume you’re acing the customer experience challenge, if sales are steady and complaints are infrequent but complacency can be dangerous. Relatively small actions or omissions can affect the way customers perceive a business, both positively and negatively.

It’s difficult to improve without examining the ‘customer experience gap’ – the difference between what customers expect and what you deliver. You can do this by conducting market research, both formal and informal, and by analysing organisational data. Your goal should be to find the answer to two key questions: what do customers really want and how well are we providing it?

Get the basics right

Customer experience can appear complex – the area is crowded with technology designed to help companies connect with customers economically and effectively – but at heart it’s pretty simple.

What the majority of consumers are looking for is convenient, consistent and reliable interactions with your business, regardless of whether they’re dealing with you in person, on the phone or via digital channels.

If you fail to invest the time and money needed to get the basics right, it’s likely you’ll see customers drift to competitors more willing to put in the effort.

Get personal

Do you view your customers as an amorphous mass, or as a collection of individuals with unique needs, wants and preferences? News flash: Most consumers prefer to be treated as the latter.

More than 80 per cent of customers globally would like to see companies personalise their digital interactions more effectively, according to Acquia’s research. For their part, businesses have plenty of room to improve, given 61 per cent of customers think brands which should know them well don’t appear to do so.

Companies that are acing it have two things in common: a data strategy that uses information from a variety of sources to profile individual customers and technology platforms that use this data to create personalised interactions at every stage of the customer journey.

Tame the martech beast

In 2019, the business world is awash with martech – software and tools used to execute marketing campaigns and evaluate their effectiveness. There are more than 7,000 martech solutions on the market.  Figuring out which ones to use and when has become a challenge for Australian marketers. More than 70 per cent believe this often-complex technology makes it harder, not easier, to deliver personalised experiences to customers.

If your business is in this boat, it’s time to take a step or several back and examine the technology you’re using to ensure it’s helping, rather than hindering, you achieve your customer experience goals.

Do data with respect

Data analysis is the key to developing personalised experiences but your efforts will be all for naught if the way you store and use personal data irritates or alienates your prospects and customers.

Almost half the consumers surveyed by Acquia revealed they were uncomfortable with the idea of brands having information about them, of which they were unaware.

Having a data strategy which addresses these concerns proactively will help alleviate unease and foster the trust that’s a hallmark of healthy long-term customer relationships.

Making customer experience count

In today’s crowded and competitive market, customer experience has become a key differentiator for Australian businesses across all industries. Improving the quality of your interactions with the consumers whose custom keeps you in business is one of the surest ways to ensure they’ll continue to come back for more.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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