The world’s greatest tech companies have built their success on being customer-centric. Here’s how you can do the same.
Customer Experience is a buzzword these days but for ages, some of our most influential thinkers and businessmen have been building their companies and legacies around it.
Father of advertising David Ogilvy was talking about it in the 50s. In the 60s, Peter Drucker famously said the purpose of business is to make and keep a customer.
And in the 90s, when Amazon was little more than a paper sign on the wall, the now multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos told his staff, “You should wake up worried, terrified every morning. But don’t be worried about our competitors because they’re never going to send us any money anyway. Let’s be worried about our customers and stay heads-down customer-focused.” A strategy which has turned out all right for him.
The world has changed enormously since the 50s, 60s and even the 90s. What do you as a marketer need to know (and do!) about customer experience to make sure your brand stands the test of time?
In partnership with AMI, we at Growth Colony brought in three experts to answer that question: Lisa D’Amico, Founder of Differentiate, Mark Cameron, CEO of W3.Digital and Lisa Stark, Executive Consultant at Power Branding.
1. Choose Your Tools Strategically
One of the most common questions--and the top question that was asked at the event--was what are the best tools for mapping the customer experience?
Everyone loves to talk about tools, develop tools, sell tools. But how much do they matter in customer experience?
You may know the old saying, It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. (Nikon cleverly flipped this in 2011 “You’re only as good as your equipment.”) Yes, a nice camera can take great pictures. But a great photographer can take great photos with a lousy camera.
The same is true for marketing tools, especially customer experience. Your tools won’t wow your customer. That’s up to you.
So how do you decide the tools to use? And how?
“Get clear on your intent and tools will follow,” says Cameron. You want customer experience to be simple and technology can sometimes make it complicated. Getting clear on your intent will make it easy for you to see how you need to achieve your goal.
One way to do that is to think about the experience signature you want to leave with your target audience. D’Amico says that following “best practices” doesn’t make you stand out. Instead, think about the experience you want for your target audience. Use that as a starting point and design around it.
The best way to do this, she says, is to always start with the outcome and work your way back.
It’s easy to spend money on tools that don’t serve your goals. The better you know your customer, the better you’ll be at picking the tools to help you wow them.
Once you’re clear on your strategy and you’ve got your ideal customer clearly in mind, Stark recommends taking a look at the tools you already have. Lots of platforms offer a robust suite of tools that you may not even know about. Before you waste any time on demos, call up your rep and see if you even need anything new. You may already have it.
2. Align Your Objectives With Your Board’s
So you want to improve customer experience at your company. Great! But you’ll almost certainly hit a snag: your board does not care about customer experience.
Your board cares about the bottom line.
In order to get them to care about CX, you have to relate it to the bottom line.
D’Amico’s advice is to tie CX into customer acquisition and then--and this is important--show results. Your board needs to see that your CX initiative is important to the business. “If your CX initiative does not tie into a business imperative, you're doomed. “
The role of the marketing team is to find and engage the target audience. The board’s role though, says Cameron, is to prevent the organisation from drifting into a high-risk area. Your job is to show them how customer experience will make the company more profitable (without taking on a bunch of risk).
Mark says to put it into terms they can understand. Tell them, for example, that net promoter score is a leading indication of financial risk. “They will pay attention to that!”
In short, your board is your first customer. Find what they care about, their top priorities and biggest concerns. If you can introduce CX as a solution, you’re on your way.
3. Use Data + Tech to Help Customers Create Their Own Experiences
CX up to this point has been aimed at creating experiences that encourage customers to engage, buy and spread the word.
As we integrate AI into CX more and more, our work will go beyond the customer and into a person’s day-to-day life. We’ve already seen it with personal digital assistants and smart technology. It is estimated that in 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be completed without interacting with a human. We’re about to reach peak AI.
With more AI, bots and automation come more opportunity for human-centred interaction, too. The difference with the future is this: we have data. We have AI. We have the technology and the means to create truly valuable experiences for our customers. Not just to help them get a song played without picking up your phone, or to turn on the lights in the living room. But to create experiences for them.
Cameron talked about Alice, an experimental AI bot designed to test out this blend of technology and information. Instead of simply waking you up, she also asks “What you want to do for today?”. If you tell her you’d like to exercise, she’ll note that you used to play tennis a lot and will ask if you’d like to set up a tennis date. But Alice, part of an integrated, human-centred future, does more than set a calendar reminder.
Alice also uses your Facebook data to see which of your friends (and she knows which are your closest friends) play tennis. She asks if you want to invite them, then sends the invitations, schedules it on your calendar and automatically finds the nearest court. Prior to your tennis date, because you opted to let other brands chip in to create your experiences, Alice adds an offer from Nike: how would you like a tennis lesson from Roger Federer delivered via your Xbox?
The future is integrated. The future is human-centred. The future is thoughtfully designed to help your customer not to merely buy, but to experience.
Your job is to ask the question posed by D’Amico, “Where is the human touch required?”
“Customer experience is all about recognising me as an individual,” says Stark. Technology and humanity recognise individuals in different ways, of course. Technology can’t understand nuance the way a human can, nor walk through how it feels to use a piece of technology. It’s important to successful CX that we go beyond our ideas and try on our own experiences. “The one thing that I find people often do is they have these really, really great ideas, but they don't sit there and say, what if that was me at the receiving end?”
However far we advance technologically, keeping our customer experience central is key. Remember that our customers are human. Not just using connection and engagement, but centring the customer experience on connection and engagement.
That’s the future.
We’ve got our work cut out for us.