Consumers have always had power over businesses. Without the patronage of buyers, sellers can’t successfully build reliable revenue streams. But since the start of COVID-19, customers have gained even more of an upper hand. Accordingly, companies need to put shoppers’ needs first.
Why are consumers more powerful than ever? Blame it on a quantum shift in what matters most to them. Data from mid-2020 culled by McKinsey & Company shows buyers are exhibiting extreme caution when it comes to spending discretionary incomes. Plus, they’ve become surprisingly brand agnostic. No longer are they tied to a certain logo, image, or slogan. Instead, consumers are operating as free agents untethered by past behaviors and habits.
As an entrepreneur, CEO, or executive, you should look at this new wave of customer as both an opportunity and a challenge. The challenge, of course, is winning repeat and big orders when people are spending less in most categories. The opportunity, however, is a huge chance to pull ahead of the pack since everything’s in flux.
How can your brand stand out? Individuals wowed by exceptional customer experience won’t just refer friends and family. They’ll also come back for more concierge treatment again and again. And that will bode well for your bottom line.
- Reinvent the way your organization focuses on the overall customer experience (CX).
- Cloud-based Contact Center as a Service is the new in-thing in customer data centralization.
- Keep your updating your personas, target audiences and customer segments, and tweak your martech stack and processes accordingly.
Interested in making positive waves with browsers and buyers? Below are five methods to boost your CX. Each one can offer a significant ROI if you implement it thoughtfully after doing a little homework.
1. Centralize All Your Customer Related Data
Haven’t already centralized your client data in one location? Take time to investigate cloud-based platforms that serve as contact center as a service (CCaaS) solutions. When every contact touchpoint is available in one easy-to-navigate location, your CX team can wow shoppers. High-powered CCaaS choices can sometimes allow you to give consumers the ability to view and access their historic information, too. This engages them and limits their need to rely on your CX personnel for tasks they can do themselves.
What should you look for in any CCaaS package? Find one that works with your current customer relationship management (CRM) program, if applicable. If you don’t already use a CRM, invest in one when you roll over your CX to a centralized CCaaS. Remember: Everyone will have a learning curve to get to know the system. Nevertheless, when they get comfortable, they can power ahead like CX rockstars.
2. Empower Employees to Make Bold Decisions
Do people rave about your CX digitally and offline? Do you continuously get unparalleled reviews? Being able to impress clients doesn’t happen by accident. The process begins with empowered employees who know they can make bold decisions. The Ritz-Carlton is well-known for having over-the-top CX, all because the company engages its workers to do great things.
Your team members may want to go the extra distance, but may feel worried they’ll get in trouble. Lay out parameters, such as budget guidelines, to help them figure out how far they can go for customers. The more leeway you give them, the more they might surprise you. Start empowering all departments, not just the CX, to serve up winning experiences. Then, enjoy the results such as stronger online reviews and raves on social.
3. Use AI for Chatbots
People don’t like to wait to get a problem solved. Rather than forcing your customers with concerns or questions to wait, consider how artificial intelligence (AI) can help. As an example, AI-enhanced chatbots may be able to answer some basic inquiries. They can also be used to screen clients and direct them to the most helpful people in your company.
As AI technology gets smarter through machine learning, you may even be able to leverage AI to build marketing content. Let’s say your AI chatbot keeps getting variations on the same question. You can use that knowledge to construct a robust FAQs page or blog post that delivers pertinent responses. Then, the next time someone has a similar question, the person could find a solution without AI or human intervention.
4. Reevaluate Your Personas and Target Profiles
You’re aware that consumers aren’t reacting to companies or products like they did pre-coronavirus. But have you dusted off your target personas? You might want to take a second look at the audiences you’re trying to bring into your fold, because their needs have shifted—often radically.
How will updating your target persona profiles have an effect on CX? Basically, your CX team will be better positioned to serve buyers. They’ll be helpful and talking about what matters most to consumers, not what used to matter before the pandemic hit. Plus, CX professionals will have a greater understanding of the general customer journey that’s happening right now. Understanding the way a shopper goes from investigation to purchase is vital. The better you can predict the funnels they’ll need, the easier it will be to ward off objections. And that should translate to higher conversions.
5. Stay Ahead of the Competition with Originality
Your competition is studying you. Do likewise and study them as well. Figure out what their CX differentiators are. Do they have AI-enhanced bots bridging the gap between live representatives and shoppers? Are they constantly going above and beyond everyone else in the industry to be truly client-centric?
While you might be tempted to emulate what’s working for them, take a step back. Look at everything that seems to be working in their favor. Next, brainstorm things that they’re not doing. Are they sending handwritten thank-you notes? Exceeding customers’ expectations in terms of flash discounts? Figure out underserved niches that you can exploit, and then make those niches your CX calling card. Your CX doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to move mountains. It just has to be different in a way that consumers will appreciate.
If you read this blog regularly, you know I write mainly about 2 things. The first is that we marketers need to stop talking about ourselves and focus on our customers.
The second is that marketing can be more effective at creating value for our own business when we seek to meet the needs of our customers.
Well, almost as a rule, I try to follow my own advice and don’t use this site as a platform to promote what we are doing at SAP. But I think we have a great example launching today on how to use customers to tell our story. And how to focus on meeting their needs.
For example, SAP ran a great campaign called “Run Like Never Before” to put their principles of customer focus and customer storytelling to work. It encouraged people to:
Run without warehouses. Run with a department of one. Run with less hardware. Run anywhere, anytime.
What’s your vision for how your company can run like never before?
With the launch of our new Run Like Never Before advertising and marketing campaign, SAP invited people to imagine what is possible for their businesses today. The campaign was designed to show how companies are transforming with powerful business innovations – not only to run better, but to run like never before.
The “Run Like Never Before” campaign also aimed at telling the story of innovation – and how SAP’s strength across the categories of mobile, cloud, analytics, and in-memory computing is bringing the future into focus – today. Rather than using a traditional landing page with product information, the Run Like Never Before campaign linked back to the Business Innovation from SAP site to let people further explore how these innovations can enable their vision for their business.
Unlike many B2B campaigns, “Run Like Never Before” aims to connect to audiences across the world on a human level, speaking not to businesses, but to the people behind those businesses. Our campaign is designed to create an emotional impact with imagery, music, and film techniques more typically associated with consumer advertising.
Filmed in five countries and across three continents, the campaign seeks to reflect what global business means today and saying: “whether you’re a small local business or a global corporation, SAP is ready to partner with you to help achieve amazing things for your company.”
I was personally involved in the campaign as editor of the landing experience and am proud of it to this day.
Leading a business during a global pandemic may make you feel like you’re constantly in crisis mode. But don’t forget to look at the silver lining in terms of the chance to rev up your customer base. Brand loyalty’s up for grabs. You could end up with a larger portion of the pie, simply by focusing on CX.