Customer Experience is the New Marketing; Innovative CX is the New DifferentiatorThe world of business has changed – irreversibly so.
Traditional differentiators need not apply
In the past, companies could differentiate themselves from competitors by price or quality. However, in an increasing globalized economy where e-commerce is exploding, traditional differentiators have lost their relevance. A cheaper product will always be available online (via Amazon or Ebay) and inexpensive services can be outsourced globally. Likewise, overseas companies can produce high-quality products and services at a fraction of the cost of domestic production.
Loyalty bites the dust
On top of these changes, today’s consumer is no longer brand loyal. The many factors contributing to loyalty’s demise can be chalked up a larger cultural shift that has produced a different breed of consumer.
The comparative consumer
Easy access to information has generated a new breed of consumer who harnesses the internet to research products/services and compare value offerings. Today’s consumer avidly practices comparative shopping instead of placing blind faith in established brands.
This comparative approach has also led to increased consumer expectations. With companies like Zappos offering overnight delivery and free returns, consumers soon expect the same level of experience from other companies; and unmet expectations can lead to customer churn. On top of the demand for extraordinary service, consumers also expect companies to uphold sound moral principles, rejecting brands that carry out harmful practices in favour of those that promote themselves as champions of social or environmental causes.
Don’t miss the beach party!
We’re experiencing a general shift toward trying new things. This new sensibility likely emerged from a mix of factors: globalization, increased immigration, the growth of niche-market capitalism, and the criticism of traditional ideas and institutions. All these phenomena contributed toward the emergence a new culture where people were more open to new experiences and less rooted in conventional practices; such as staying loyal to established brands. Blind loyalty to a brand means willfully ignoring a world of alternatives. In the words of Kathleen Kusek, “Loyalty means…Putting your head in the sand and maybe even missing a beach party.”
Loyalty means…Putting your head in the sand and maybe even missing a beach party.
-Kathleen Kusek (Forbes)
The death of brand loyalty means that companies must compete more intensely to attract and retain customers. How will they stand out from their competitors? Customer experience. 80% of companies recognize customer experience (CX) as a key differentiator. In this new world, CX has become the competitive battlefield, and companies are now seeking innovative ways of providing the stellar experiences that will allow them to emerge victorious.
More than eight in 10 companies recognise CX as a differentiator, and it’s the number one indicator of strategic performance. It drives revenues, is proven to reduce costs and even adds to employee engagement.
What makes for great customer experience? Frictionless interactions that empower consumers to find quick solutions and continue with their everyday lives. 77% of consumers agree that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good customer service (Leggett, Forrester). The demand for time-saving, convenient B2C communications has driven the rising consumer preference for interacting with brands over digital channels. As Dimension Data concludes, “Customers want a frictionless, easy, and immediate journey on channels of their choice.”
Right time, right place, right channel
Offering customers a convenient, frictionless experience means applying the “right time, right place, right channel” approach. This means anticipating their needs and being immediately available on the channel of their choice. Being proactively available to answer questions is particularly critical during the consumer’s information gathering phase. Given that 53% of consumers are likely to abandon an online purchase if their questions aren’t answered quickly (Leggett, Forrester), wouldn’t it make sense to proactively invite them to ask questions over live chat or their preferred messaging channel?
Keep them engaged; keep them informed
Take McKinsey&Company’s study on the customer journey involved in finding a bank loan. The consulting firm found that 81% of consumers looking for a loan on a banking website abandon their journey before registration. Having access to a digital assistant during the consumer’s information gathering phase can help guide prospective customers through the registration process and lead to conversions that would never have happened otherwise. A proactive invitation to chat via SMS, messengers, live chat, or chatbots keeps prospective customers engaged and online while receiving the information they need to finalize their transactions. Offering access to convenient services at the right time enables companies to provide frictionless customer experiences, resulting in happier customers, more sales, and higher revenue.
Bots help those who help themselves
Great customer experience also empowers customers to help themselves. Given that 67% of consumers prefer finding their own answers over contacting an agent; providing seamless, intuitive tools for self-service is becoming increasing critical. Until recently, companies have offered self-service via FAQs or online guides, but now self-service has become more fluid and more intuitive with chatbot technology. Today, companies can launch simple virtual assistants to replace FAQs or venture into the more sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence) world of conversational bots.
The conversational bot can do much more than answer FAQs; in fact, it can process requests that, until now, would have required the assistance of a live agent. Chatbots give customers a sense of independence and agency which, combined with access to frictionless services, produces high levels of satisfaction.
Good CX creates a ripple effect
With frictionless customer experience, your customers’ issues can be quickly resolved, saving them from frustration which could have quickly escalated into negative social media posts. In fact, great customer experience produces the opposite effect: 72% of consumers will share positive experiences with more than six people. Traditional marketing can’t create this level of advocacy – only customer experience can.
Customer Experience is the new marketing; Innovative CX is the new differentiator
This all leads us to the realization that customer experience IS the new marketing – and brands can stand out in this new competitive battlefield by offering great customer experience driven by new and emerging technologies, presenting themselves to the world as customer-centric leaders in innovation.
Interested in promoting your brand as leaders in CX innovation? Contact us to discuss customer-centric technology and get a sneak peak at the ITC Command Center.