By Brent Haumann
Every business knows (or should know) that in order to thrive in today’s competitive world, it has to provide a great customer experience. Unfortunately, too many organisations only have a vague idea of what customer experience (CX) actually means and how to go about getting it right.
This isn’t helped by the fact that there’s so much indecipherable jargon around CX, with the same terms meaning different things to different people.
While there’s no foolproof formula for successful CX, clearing up some of these misunderstandings and constantly referring back to the primary aims of CX are important starting points for any organisation. And one thing that becomes clear when doing so, is how big a role digital communication has to play in driving customer loyalty and advocacy.
The Journey to Loyalty and Advocacy
There are two main drivers of loyalty and advocacy. The first is products and solutions. If your products or solutions stand out from the crowd, chances are customers will come back to you time and time again.
But in a world where almost everyone has access to the same materials and technology, that’s not always easy to achieve. That makes the other driver of loyalty and advocacy, customer experience, all the more important.
The two primary pushers of customer experience are: the perceptions of an organisation, which it can only control to a degree, and the journeys it takes customers through, which it has much more control over.
This is particularly true of the digital journeys organisations take their customers on. These digital journeys take place across all digital touchpoints a customer has with an organisation, including its website, app, social media, and digital communication. Unlike their analogue counterparts, digital journeys allow organisations to build lasting relationships with virtually their entire customer base, creating regular engagement, which is vital to good CX.
Breaking Down the Digital Journey
But digital journeys don’t just happen on their own, organisations have to take care to ensure that the communication driving those journeys happens across the right channels, includes the right content, and is made up of the right processes.
But it breaks down further than that too. Take channels for example. Whatever digital channels an organisation is using to build relationships with its customers, it has to meet certain attributes.
Right Channel, Right Customer, Right Time
It should, for instance, align with a customer’s life, slotting in without disrupting their routine in any way. A good example of this is Discovery’s rewards programme, which recognised that certain segments of its customer base were already living healthy lives and rewarded them for it. That others later wanted to be a part of this and change their lives for the better only validated the point. Customers aligned their lives with the programme because they wanted to, not because Discovery forced them to.
Similarly, organisations need to meet customers where they are. Let’s say a customer is in their email inbox and wants a statement. They should be able to search for and find that statement as easily in their inbox as they can on the bank’s app or website.
That said, organisations shouldn’t introduce elements to a digital channel that don’t make sense. If everyone else sends out digital documentation using email and apps, don’t try and reinvent the wheel.
Relevant, Hyper-Personalised Content
No matter how hard you work on your channels, however, they have to be supported by good content. Any content an organisation sends out to its customers should obviously be relevant to their wants and needs.
But it should also be hyper-personalised and contextual, showing that the organisation is thinking about the customer and what their needs are at that point in time. Importantly, it should also be feature-rich, using the available technology to provide value to customers.
Finally, the processes used to drive this communication need to be as simple and frictionless as possible: customers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to interact with your brand.
It’s also vital that your communication is consistent. As is the case in real-life relationships, digital ones take time and because you’re the one trying to build the relationship, you have to make the effort. Equally important to building a relationship is trust. It’s therefore imperative that your communications are as secure as possible, ensuring that your customers feel comfortable interacting with them.
Getting an organisation’s digital communication to the point where it’s a powerful driver of customer experience is by no means easy. Redefining journeys and building a great customer experience takes time and is harder than it looks. Get it right, however, and your customers will do more for you than any marketing campaign or new product line ever will.
Brent Haumann, Managing Director, Striata.