Customer Experience Now and Beyond the Pandemic
Customer Experience doesn't end with the purchase - whether it be B2B or B2C. In today's remote and disconnected environment, those companies who provide an 'experience beyond the product' are those that ultimately maintain their competitive advantage and thrive beyond the pandemic.
Alex Allwood, founder and director, customer strategy and experience at All Work Together reveals some of the key trends, challenges and opportunities for brands and businesses to build better CX in 2021.
The importance of customer experience ‘beyond’ a good product and service
When it comes to customer experience (CX), it's not about providing a product or service but how a brand delivers that product or service, according to , founder and director, customer strategy and experience at All Work Together.
"It's all about emotion. If you have a look at the CX greats, the brands we all know and love like Amazon, Apple and Airbnb, they all do something great and that is they create this ecosystem around their product and service," Alex says.
"That ecosystem is informed by the customer. They really go to great lengths to understand their customers' needs, goals, their expectations and they create a reference point for the organisation's leadership, for the organisation's strategy and how they are going to operationalise the products and services."
Technology, B2B Marketing and unlocking CX
While B2B marketers do focus heavily on technology, Alex believes technology is the conduit that delivers customer experience.
According to Alex, this experience comes in two parts - the experience understanding your customer's needs and the technology delivering it.
"Amazon has the ambition to be the world's most customer-centric business. This year they outperformed the SMP by 30%, they have a 40% market share in eCommerce in America," she explains.
"Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO and owner is the richest man in America for the third time running. So what does Bezos do? He has a customer obsession that means every day in his business he walks the talk, he understands his customers, their needs, expectations and goals. So much so that he can predict what the new world expectations of customers are," she says
Alex adds that Bezos uses that intelligence in terms of delivering experience and it's the technology that's delivering that experience.
"For the rest of brands that are out there that aren't Amazon, our expectations are being formed by Amazon, so technology plays an important part in terms of delivering out the experience," she says.
Common mistakes B2B marketers make when it comes to CX strategy
There are a number of common mistakes B2B marketers are making when it comes to customer experience, with the first being that some organisations can help but to be "inside out" in their thinking.
"They have a tendency to make a lot of assumptions about customers and so they tend to rather than perspective take or take the customers perspective, they have a tendency to think from inside out," Alex explains.
She uses the example of a brand's customer journeys, where the attitude is 'we know our customers so let's get together in a workshop and bring everyone together and map the CX'.
Alex highlights often what they find is the customer's experience is different from what the customer sees, this is also different to what the organisation sees as well.
Another mistake B2B marketers are making is having an 'obsession' with customer measurement and around customer scores.
"Customer scores have their place, CX scores definitely have their place in business as measurement. What customer scores do is they reduce the visibility of customers," Alex adds.
"At the end of the day, CX is about customers as humans and experiences as their emotions. When we reduce that visibility, it puts a carrier or reduces the connection or understanding for the whole of the organisation."
How to provide a great CX strategy when the budget is tight
Some CX strategies require a larger budget than others but with the pandemic impacting nearly every business, here are some ways to provide a great CX strategy when a company's budget is tight.
"I think the marketers persona needs to reflect the new customer's world. At the moment we are working with old persona's and customer experience is very complex and dynamic. They need to reflect the new world needs and new world context, so updating personas would be one thing I'd be advising on a budget," she explains.
Alex also recommends marketers invest in empathy nudges, another tool that won't break the marketing budget.
"They help create small shifts in behaviour, simply by adding a question around 'what would our customers think about that?' around the decision-making table will help put the customer at the centre of the organisation's thinking, problem-solving and decision making," she adds.
Another tip for marketers is get back to basics. Alex recommends a "back to basics" listening program.
"You're getting customers and your non-customer facing people together. That's a good way to create new organisational rituals for your people," Alex says.
AI, big data and the future of CX
It's been a tough year for marketers, but the future of CX still holds promise - and there are a few things on her CX radar that Alex looks forward to, particularly as Ai and CX start to converge.
"At the moment there are a lot of conversations around journey orchestration. Now, marketers have done exceptionally well in putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time, in the right channels. Using AI to do that, they have made great gains in regards to customer service and AI, again serving the right content at the right time," she says.
"Also making gains in terms of products and service usage. Journey orchestration is on marketers' minds going into the future."
Alex notes AI is another tool that will be prominent in the future, particularly as big data and predictive analytics continue to play a big role in the CX ecosystem.
"Human vs machine in terms of brand preference. It's going to be interesting to see who will be making brand choices. And questions will also arise as to whether these questions will be made by the customer - or machines?”
Authored by Athina Mallis, senior content and communications specialist at AZK Media