Customer Experience: Why It's Important and How to Improve It

by James Winter

Attention is the most prized asset in marketing these days.

In an era where consumers have their gadgets on hand all the time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers, creatives, and business owners to attract the attention of their target audiences, much less hold it.

And with so many platforms, channels, forms of media, and tools regularly coming out of the woodwork, the market has become more fragmented than ever.

Did you know that marketers need an average of seven “touches” to convert a prospect? No wonder why only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.

How do you make your target audience pay attention long enough to become loyal customers?

This is where Customer Experience (CX) comes in.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience (CX) is the overall impression your brand makes on your target audience throughout their relationship lifecycle with your business—across multiple channels, platforms, and devices.

CX spans multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey, from the moment a consumer encounters your brand for the first time to the moment when she finally decides to buy your products and services, even right up to the time when she cancels her subscription.

It bears noting that a “touchpoint” could be any interaction between a brand and a consumer, meaning that it’s not exclusive to one platform, channel, or medium. When you stumble on a blog post from a specific brand after a Google search, that’s a touchpoint. When you visit a store to ask if they have a specific item in stock, that counts as another touchpoint. And so on.

Which brings us to another point: If you want to deliver the type of customer experience that turns customers into loyal brand advocates, you need to make every touchpoint count. You must delight and nurture your target audience every step of the way on their road to conversion and brand advocacy. After all, it takes only one bad customer experience for a prospect to start losing interest in what you have to offer.

Why Customer Experience Matters

You might be wondering: Why the focus on customer experience?

First off, according to a CEI report, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more to receive better customer experience. A Walker study also predicted that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020. A recent Accenture report states that 90% of B2B executives are looking to prioritize CX in their overall marketing strategy.

The consensus is clear: If you want to earn the trust of your target audience, build a long-lasting relationship with them, and increase your ROI in the process, you need to deliver satisfying and memorable customer experiences…. wherever they are, whenever they need it, and within the right context.

So, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are 3 ways to create a customer experience strategy that will delight your target audience and earn their undying loyalty in the process.

1. Know your audience

It’s already a cliché in marketing circles at this point, but it bears repeating:

If you want to deliver great customer experiences, you need to understand your audience first.

What are their wants and needs? Where do they hang out? What’s their educational background? What are their biggest challenges? What’s a typical day for them? And so on.

By getting answers to the above questions, you can acquire actionable insights that will help you tailor your marketing content and interactions in ways that delight, engage, and connect with them.

In other words, understanding your audience allows you to optimize your customer experience.

There are many ways to learn more about your target consumers, including:

2. Be consistent in your branding

As already mentioned, your prospects’ road to conversion is long and fragmented. If you want them to get to their destination, you need to earn and build their trust.

You need brand consistency to sustain that trust.

According to a study by McKinsey, brands that instill feelings of trust among their audience are more likely to deliver consistent customer journeys. The same study also finds that consistency is a critical element of every CX strategy.

Customers love consistency. If your blog post says one thing but a customer service rep says another, why would they trust you with their needs? Why would they trust you to deliver on your brand promise?

If you want to deliver memorable and meaningful experiences consistently, you need to think of “experience” as a cohesive whole comprised of many parts.

Boltgroup’s Peyton Green’s definition of the term “brand experience” is on point:

“The intentional design of moments that physically, visually, and verbally integrate into people’s lives and their lifestyle, expressing the purpose, promise and pillars of the brand, and triggering an emotional response.”

The elements of your branding should be consistent as well. Defining your brand mission and values is a step in the right direction. After all, they serve as the guideposts of your brand story. And by creating or using visuals, messaging, and collateral that align with that brand story, you’ll find it easier to create authentic brand experiences that engage, resonate, and inspire.

Protip #1: Want a more holistic view of your target audience’s journey towards the sale? Customer experience mapping can help you gather key insights that can help you tailor your customer experience in a way that addresses the needs and wants of your customers.

Protip #2: If you and your teams are struggling to maintain brand consistency because of a siloed working environment, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution can serve as a central source of truth that simplifies and streamlines the use, storage, and management of assets across multiple workflows.

3. Build a community around your brand

Our innate desire to belong and connect with others is one of the main drivers that influence our purchasing behavior. After all, brand or customer experiences—and much of human experience, for that matter—are communal in nature.

Popular marketing blogger and best-selling author Seth Godin says as much in one of his blog posts:

“More than features, more than benefits, we are driven to become a member in good standing of the tribe. We want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with, we want to know what we ought to do to be part of that circle.”

To bring home the point further, Harvard Business Review reports that “people are more interested in the social links that come from brand affiliations than in the brands themselves.”

Lego, for example, has maintained its reputation as the best toy company over the last few decades. While Lego’s building bricks were revolutionary for its time, toy companies like Nanoblocks and Mega Bloks have created products that are at least comparable in terms of quality and price.

So, what made Lego stand out from its competition even after all these years? It’s their robust online community of Lego enthusiasts.

On top of the Lego message boards, Lego’s online platform, LEGO Ideas, provided members a vibrant community hub where they can submit or browse ideas for new creative designs. The toy company used the platform to stage creative themed contests or promotions where winners get to earn the privilege of having their design turned into an official LEGO set. To top it off, the creator gets to earn a percentage of the sales. Now that’s customer empowerment for you!

Tips on how to create a community around your brand You can’t create a brand community overnight. At least not one that will prove sustainable for the long haul. To build a scalable community, you need to engage your audience in an authentic way. After all, it’s easier to consolidate and grow a community that is built on genuine interactions.

Here are ways to build a brand community:

Conclusion

There are no two ways about it: Customer Experience (CX) is the ultimate differentiator in today’s fragmented market, and it will continue to be in the years to come. If you want enduring, meaningful relationships with your customers, give them great experiences to remember you by.