Today’s consumers have more options than ever than ever before. Their expectations of the customer experience (CX) have been shaped by interactions with leading brands from Amazon to Disney. A winning CX – around the globe – is convenient, personalized, and easy to navigate. And the price for getting it wrong is high: 76% of consumers will quit a brand due to a bad customer experience. Every interaction, from online shopping to social media-based customer support, is a brand touch point that has to be optimized.
In an effort to better understand the CX landscape, Acquia commissioned a global survey of more than 5,000 consumers and 500 marketers. Here are seven strategies to enhance the CX your company delivers – backed by our original research.
1. Explore the Customer Experience Gap
Leveling up your CX begins with understanding the broader landscape and the trends that are taking shape. Globally, consumers are underwhelmed with the CX most brands deliver. Consider this: 66% of consumers surveyed couldn’t remember when a brand had exceeded their expectations. Simple touches such as a personal connection, going above and beyond, or offering an excellent value are being missed.
Even more concerning, nearly half of consumers feel brands don’t deliver a good CX at all. Put this into context: today’s brands have more data, technology, and CX-focused tools at their disposal than ever before. Yet 61% of the consumers surveyed felt that brands do a poor job using data to predict their needs. Not everything we’ve assumed about the CX may be right. It’s time for business leaders to get serious about their CX and how a poor CX impacts customer satisfaction, loyalty, and – ultimately – revenue and profits.
2. How Is Your CX Really Performing?
It’s important for brands to move beyond theoretical issues with CX in the market and look at what a good CX actually means for their own customers. While marketers are tough critics of CX at large, they often lose perspective on their own brands and miss the mark. What’s the extent of the disconnect?
According to our research, 87% of marketers were confident that they’re meeting customer needs and delivering a winning CX. Yet nearly half of customers globally disagree. When these disconnects are left unchecked, companies can feel secure and leave CX investments by the wayside. That may be exactly what’s happening: according to Forrester, CX improvements have stalled for the third year in a row. Brands can break out of this cycle by taking action now. Ask two key questions: What do your customers really want, and are you successfully delivering it? Conduct market research, interview customers, and audit organizational data to get an objective understanding of how your brand’s CX is really performing.
3. Invest in Your Fundamental CX First
CX is a complex topic that incorporates many facets of your organization. It’s easy to think ahead to how the latest technologies, like AI, chatbots, IoT, and machine learning can help. These may have a role, but it’s important to make sure the fundamentals of your customer experience are on point first. Around the world, one-third of customers strongly believe their brand interactions must be convenient, and yet over half (55%) say brands are behind the times in dealing with customers both online and offline.
Often, what customers want is a digital CX that’s reliable, convenient, and personalized. In the UK, for example, 46% of customers who interact with brands weekly had experienced website glitches or delays during major events like Black Friday. Poor online experiences will send unhappy customers running for the competition. Brands should evaluate their own fundamental CX, looking at issues such as reliability, convenience, and consistent delivery across channels.
4. Upgrade Your Personalization Strategy
Globally, 82% of customers want greater personalization – and marketers know they need to deliver. In large part, this is due to consumers feeling that digital interactions aren’t personalized enough. In fact, 69% of consumers and 79% of marketers feel that brands treat them as generic customers rather than individuals.
Critically, this is an issue with both current customers and future prospects: 61% of consumers say brands that should know them well, simply don’t. Marketers can make important progress by investing in personalization. Begin by evaluating how your data strategy and technology platforms can personalize interactions, and roll these capabilities out to both customers and prospective buyers over time.
5. Align Marketing Technology and CX Strategy
Technology is a key investment to help move the needle toward an effective CX, but strategic execution is important. For many marketers, an increased investment in the year ahead doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be accessing the right technologies. Ten percent of marketers are managing a portfolio of more than 20 marketing technology providers alone, so it’s not difficult to see why 74% believe that technology actually makes it more difficult to deliver a great CX.
On further investigation, there are a variety of concerns that marketers face: 66% simply struggle with IT to implement solutions, while 89% want their solutions to work together more effectively. Two-thirds find today’s solutions too complex. One solution that’s emerging for marketers is open source CX platforms. As marketers increase spending, they want to focus on the right technology to align with their goals, and 88% of marketers are optimistic that open source marketing technology could provide the basis for a holistic, end-to-end CX.
6. Future Technology Improves the CX – When Audiences are Aligned
As technology becomes more sophisticated and marketers get ahead of the CX curve, emerging technologies can help streamline customer experience delivery. Yet it’s important to align investments in future technology with what audiences really want.
Consider the case of artificial intelligence: 81% of marketers look forward to AI innovations, yet just 13% believe AI will improve their brand interactions. Digging deeper, it quickly becomes clear that the issue isn’t the technology – rather, it’s how the technology is executed. Surprisingly, 75% of consumers feel automated experiences are impersonal. In order to reap CX benefits from marketing technology investments, it’s important to consider investing in what audiences want and offer personalized delivery at every stage.
7. Prioritize a Customer-Friendly Data Strategy
Data is a cornerstone of personalizing the CX at scale – and investing in this area can pay off: 78% of consumers globally would be more loyal to brands that understand them and what they’re looking for. While globally, more than 80% of marketers were confident that consumers were willing to trade data for better CX, the reality is more nuanced.
Brands may be underestimating consumer data concerns: 79% of consumers believe brands should not be able to use their personal data to market to them, and 47% are uncomfortable with brands having information about them they didn’t know. In order to foster trust, it’s important to craft a data strategy that proactively addresses these concerns. Anchor your data strategy around transparency, empathy, and simplicity.
Brands that invest in the right people, processes, and technology to drive an effective CX strategy will create an important competitive advantage. Getting started with enhancing your customer experience is easy.