Everyone talks about building a great customer experience, but not enough brands get the details that make an experience great.
Great customer experiences are not just about having a great website or great products, they’re built on how well your brand uses what you know. In fact, the quality of the experience, especially before they make a purchase, is often influenced more by what you said and when you said it than the actual details of website usability or app functionality.
Here are three details that will, if you get them right, lead to better customer experiences.
1. What Do They Want?
This may seem simple, but brands get it wrong all the time. How often do you see marketing for things you have absolutely no interest in? Does that feel like a good experience to you?
Some of this is a factor of your merchandising: A brand that truly knows its customers should then also know how to expand its offerings to complementary products and services that people like its customers will need and want.
More important to customer acquisition, though, is the ability to predict who will want those offerings and the ability to target them with effective marketing. One way to do this is through look-a-like modeling, which uses profiles of your existing customers to identify similar people in prospect lists or online audiences.
Another way to target customers who want what you offer is through online audiences. On social media, for example, you can target people by interests, likes and follows. With search ads, you can target based on the search terms you buy. Online display advertising can target people who have browsing profiles similar to the people who come to your website and your competitor’s websites.
There are a thousand ways to get there, but properly identifying what your target customer wants and expanding to reach target audiences who want what they want is one of the most important aspects of successful omni-channel marketing. Identify the need, then identify the audience who needs it, and expand your marketing to bring them into your orbit and lead pipeline.
Not only is this good marketing, but it also creates good customer experiences because you’re serving your target market’s needs and not wasting anyone’s time with things they don’t need.
2. When Do They Want It?
Every brand works in cycles. There are important points in individual customer lifecycles, such as identifying when a known prospect will be ready to buy or an existing customer will be ready to rebuy. And there are broader environmental cycles like the holidays, seasons of the year, budget cycles, end of the fiscal year, etc., that impact when your target audience is likely to buy.
Great omni-channel brands identify these cycles and use them to predict customer needs and expectations. Then they use them to deliver good marketing experiences.
For existing customers who are reaching the time to replace a product or renew a contract, it is a good experience to be greeted with an affirmation from the brand. Perhaps you can make a special offer to those customers? Perhaps you can upsell them? Perhaps you can just thank them for being loyal customers and remind them why your deal is the best? The point is that recognizing these milestones matters to your customers, and so does recognizing birthdays and other important dates in their individual years. Not to mention, who doesn’t like to get a great holiday offer?
It’s a good idea to build customer journey maps to better understand what customers are doing at each step of their lifecycle with your brand and how you can help them have a better experience along the way. Match those steps up to data you have and data you can access through other tools (like the targeting techniques we discussed above) to identify where individual customers are in the lifecycle and how you can best interact with them.
3. Where Do They Want to Talk About It?
Where you interact with customers and prospects is often an overlooked aspect of the customer experience. For the past hundred years, marketers have tried to put their brands in front of people wherever they are whenever they can — and the result in 2020 is a world where prospects mostly tune marketing out.
But they don’t tune marketing out everywhere. And the key to good marketing experiences, especially at the prospect level where you’re helping form their opinion of your brand, is to be there when it’s helpful and not be there when it’s annoying.
This is why TV advertising is falling out of vogue. It still has tremendous reach and the highest potential impact, but a lot of TV ads are just noise getting in the way of what customers want to do. That’s not a good viewer experience, which means it’s not a good brand experience. Many online ads have the same problem, with pop-up ads being perhaps the worst offenders.
It’s this simple: If your ad annoys people, it’s not a good customer experience.
However, there is a time and place for good marketing to create positive experiences. The mail, for example, is a channel customers check when they want, read at their leisure, and can keep for future reference. Today, junk mail means junk email, actual postal mail is welcome and a well-done mailpiece can be a great customer experience.
Even online marketing, for all its interrupting foibles, can create great customer experiences if you have a good strategy for putting the ads in the right place at the right time.
Search ads are a great example of this: There is no better time to offer someone an answer than exactly when they’re searching with its question. The search itself is a clear indication of interest in engaging with a brand, and that’s when great customer experiences start.
Good omni-channel marketing doesn’t just focus on where leads may be found, it focuses on where leads have been found and where they engage and convert with this kind of marketing material. By moving your marketing to the channels your prospects want to engage in, you start creating the kind of customer journey they want to have.
Customer Experience Is Really About Loyalty
Creating great customer experiences is not actually hard because customers want to have those experiences with you.
Every customer that chooses to do business with you and every prospect that considers doing business with you wants to feel like your brand is special. They want to feel like they were smarter for choosing your brand and that they are being treated better by your brand. All you have to do to give them a great customer experience is be worthy of that loyalty. That starts by showing that you know who they are, what they need, and how they want to engage.
Get these three details right, and you’ll lay the marketing foundation to build great customer experiences.