Experience is everything. That’s what we believe at Windsorborn. And when it comes to creating brand loyalty, it’s the Customer Experience piece of the puzzle that’s truly everything.
Successful brands are those that not only attract new customers, but that also manage to retain loyal customers. Brand loyalty is key for long-term growth and a necessary part of maintaining a healthy profit margin.
Now, a lot of brands think that loyalty is achieved by “locking down” customers with incentives and point programs. But all these kinds of programs do is encourage transactional loyalty – not genuine BRAND loyalty. Points-loyal customers need constant incentives to stay engaged, and they’re almost always willing to switch to the next brand that offers them a better deal.
Simply put? They’re interested in the value they can extract – not in having a relationship with your brand.
How to Build Brand Loyalty
What you really want for your business is to turn your customers into brand loyalists.
True brand loyalists are willing to pay more for your brand. They’ll seek you out and engage with you across different channels. They’re less costly to serve, they tend to spend more and they’ll often recommend you, essentially acting as brand ambassadors. They’re also far less likely to switch to another brand or competitive products.
Concretely, loyalty boosts the overall lifetime value of your customers. But while all of these benefits are clear, how do you actually turn your clients into loyal brand aficionados?
True loyalty is not a cognitive, calculated engagement. Rather, it’s an accumulation of impressions and strong feelings. Genuine brand loyalty is formed through positive emotions in contact with the brand.
Customer Experience is the Key
Research from Walker predicts, that Customer Experience is likely to be the strongest brand differentiator by 2020. A bad Customer Experience, on the other hand, is shown to drive 89 percent of customers to consider switching brands, according to a study by Harris Interactive Market Research.
So, how do you transform your brand interactions into an experience?
First, consider that what we call “Customer Experience” is the aggregation of every single interaction between your brand and your customers. That includes everything from the advertisements they see, the service they receive, through to their direct use of your product and what their best friend tells them about it.
The key to making these interactions flawless is to think of them as parts of a single, interconnected Customer Journey – not a collection of individual customer service touch points. So instead of refining your touch points, invest your efforts into adopting a meta-touchpoint approach. This means building Customer Journeys that are seamless, consistent, simple, organic, channel-less and customer-centric.
Building a Seamless Customer Journey
Your individual customer touch points – such as your website, phone service or help desk service – may be perfectly designed and have high success rates. But this isn’t enough if they aren’t seamlessly connected in an intuitive, simple service pathway.
If you leave your customers to find their way from A to B to C by themselves, their satisfaction will suffer. Instead, create a logical, intuitive and easy-to-thread pathway across all of your brand channels, anticipating every possible need in advance.
Remember, consumer psychology isn’t usually driven by rational choice. Instead, it relies on what’s called “processing fluency.” This means that customers prefer to select the easiest, fastest option that’s available to them. In the end, the customer doesn’t care about how many channels you make available to them. They just want to complete their transactions with as little effort as possible through whatever channel is easiest and most convenient for them.
Moving to a “Channel-Less” Experience
Customers want making a purchase to feel good – much of that experience comes from how easy it was to get the information they need and to complete the transaction as expected. Perhaps unsurprisingly, McKinsey suggests that 75 percent of people now expect a consistent experience – and that they consider consistency to be one of the key facets of good Customer Experience.
Marketers like to talk about multichannel experiences, but what your customers really want is for your business to become”channel-less,” meaning that the experience will be the same, no matter which channel the interaction occurs on.
Creating these kinds of experiences requires that companies bring all customer encounters – including the data they produce – into one place. If technology can’t bring these elements together, teams can’t work together to leverage them successfully.
Dimension Data discovered that 52 percent of companies do not share customer intelligence outside of the contact centre. In other words, different areas of the business (such as sales, marketing and HR) are being left in the dark as to how customers feel.
When teams can’t work together, they can’t create the kind of personalised experience your customers want.
How to Leverage Personalisation Successfully
That brings us to a second crucial point when considering customer experience: businesses need to switch their mindsets to a customer-centric approach that leverages personalisation.
Part of knowing and understanding your customers is knowing how they use your product or service, and how they most want to get customer support when needed. Brands need to refocus interactions around customers, not channels. That requires knowing the customer’s interactions across all channels, including sales, marketing and customer service, in order to determine the next-best action to take for that individual – even predict what the customer will need or ask for next.
Unsurprisingly, new technology is at the forefront of improving Customer Experience through personalisation. Take the example of IBM’s acquisition of The Weather Company. By integrating data produced by the company into the Watson Marketing connection, IBM got a close-up look at how weather affects buyers’ behaviours. As a result, companies using Watson Marketing in their campaigns are empowered to adjust the Customer Experience they provide in order to better support consumers’ changing needs.
Yes, adapting new technology and reworking business processes may be challenging. But dedicating resources to improving your Customer Experience (CX) may be one of the most important investments you can make. For your brand to thrive long-term you need genuinely loyal customers. The only way to achieve this, is to make all Customer Experiences impeccable. This means forgetting about single customer service touch points and start creating customer-centric, personalised, channel-less, seamless and simple Customer Journeys.