Companies no longer compete on the basis of pricing, features, benefits, process, or even level of customer service. Companies today compete on the basis of customer experience.
This goes beyond the worn out model of "superior customer service". Every business should have superior customer service. To create an awesome personalized customer experience, we have to look at how, why and where a customer interacts with our business.
Customers find us in many different ways. Some find us offline and in-person at a trade show or a market, or even as a product in the local store. Some find us online by typing a search term into Google. Some find us on social media. And still, some find us by referral.
Each road to our business is different, and the terrain, signs and environment on one particular road is going to be slightly different than the other roads. Because we are competing on the basis of customer experience, it is important that we personalize the journey on each road to ensure that our customer reaches their destination and has a pleasant journey along the way.
It is also important to make this journey consistent, regardless of on which road your customer is travelling. If your customer is travelling down an in-person road and they turn left down the social media road, the feeling they have with your brand needs to be consistent. They need to know that it is you, and that you are talking directly to them.
While customer experience is ultimately an organizational goal, marketing leads this charge. Marketing is how you position your brand to your audience in your market. It's how to attract potential leads into your sales funnel. There are many marketing touch points a customer can have along their journey, including website, blog, social media, email, newsletter, SMS/text message and many others.
Customers expect their brand experiences to be personalized and consistent on each. In fact, 52% of consumer will switch brands if a company doesn't personalize the experience for them. The same sentiment goes for 65% of business buyers (Source: SalesForce State of Marketing Report).
So how do we create a personalized customer experience that attracts and retains a loyal base of customers. Here are three things to know.
1. Know Yourself
It is important to know your brand inside and out. Here are a few questions about your brand to consider.
- Do you know you value differentiation factor? (What makes you different from your competitors?)
- What are your values? Can you clearly explain them?
- Can you tell me what you do in 30 seconds?
- Why did you choose your name, colours, fonts, graphics and logo?
- What words would you use to describe your brand's personality?
Understand your products, services, values, process so well that if you were given a pop quiz, you'd score 100% every single time. When you know your brand so intimately, you will be relentless and uncompromising in how you present your brand to the world.
This delivers the consistency that customers are looking for.
2. Know Your Customer
Without customers, you wouldn't have a business. The more you know about them, the better product or service you will create and the better experience you can design just for them.
But what about privacy?
Walking the line between creating personalized experiences and going to far into customer data has always been challenging for marketers; however, research has shown that 58% of Millennial customers will exchange more personal data for hyper-personalized experiences. Even 89% of B2B (business-to-business) buyers want deeper relationships and expect companies to understand their needs and challenges.
So how do get to know your customer?
Your approach depends on whether you have a new or existing audience. Let's dive into the research methods for each.
If you are a new business and just starting out, here are a few ways to figure out who you are trying to reach.
- Create a public survey on Google or social media. Design your survey, set your targeting, choose your budget and release your survey.
- Check Facebook Insights for data on your ideal customer.
- If you have an idea of the ideal customer or client, find someone who fits that profile and interview them.
You want to understand what their needs, challenges and wants are. Compile the results into a buyer persona.
If you have been operating your business for a while, ask your existing clients or customers (even former clients and customers will work) why they chose your business and how you helped them. Here are a couple ways to learn more about your current customer base.
- Design a survey with specific questions, send it out to your email list and analyze the results for trends and patterns.
- Scan your website and social media analytics demographic patterns, referral traffic, quotes, behaviour patterns.
Then, just like with a new audience, compile the results into a buyer persona. When you go to create your messages, speak to your persona, and your persona only.
Not sure what a buyer persona is supposed to look like? Download an example below.
Creating a singular, shared vision of each customer (you may have more than one), you can get to work creating personal and customized messages at each touch point.
3. Know Your Channels and Mediums
According to Salesforce's 2017 State of Marketing report, customers expect to switch between mobile app, social, desktop and other channels and have a consistent experience on each.
The number of channels customers can access is exploding, and some channels are experiencing astronomical growth. For example, video advertising will enjoy a 141% growth over the next two years. Even the tried-and-true email will see a 106% growth rate.
So how do you, the business owner, wade through all of that?
First, breathe. This is where you slow down and think about each channel intentionally. Think about how and why you want to use a specific channel before you add it to your marketing mix. If it's video, think about your goals and how video will help you achieve them. If it's email, think about how you can connect with your customers there.
Start with one channel at a time and ask yourself:
- Does this channel help me accomplish my goals?
- Is my audience on this channel? (Go back to the buyer persona you created.)
- Can I reasonably create consistent content on this channel? (Remember, consistent, high-quality content is better than frequent, low-quality content.)
Once you've chosen your channels, try to coordinate your effort across them. The most basic application of this is to write different copy across your channels. If you are promoting an event and you want people to buy tickets on Eventbrite, think about writing engaging copy for a Facebook ad and directing traffic to your Eventbrite. If you are promoting the same event to your email list, include a bit more information about the event and a couple compelling reasons they should attend. Your email copy should also be much more personal than your Facebook ad since people have already indicated by signing up for your email list that they want to hear from you.
A more complex evolution of messaging will include strategic messages that build upon each other as your customer moves through their buying journey.
Once you have all of these pieces in place, communication and train your staff, ambassadors, consultants, volunteers and buyers on this experience.
And if that all feels very overwhelming, we just might have the creative solution to clear some of the mud. Click the button below and get some clarity on your branding, audience personas or even mapping the right message on the right channel to the right audience.