Enhancing the Customer Experience

Fostering loyalty in a multi-channel world

8963

10/26/2020

Eve Padula

 

Keeping the customer satisfied through every phase of their journey with a product or brand—also known as maintaining a good customer experience—has been receiving an increased amount of attention in recent years. A positive customer experience is key to business success because happy clients are more likely to become loyal customers who generate repeat business that can improve your revenues.

 

Everyone knows that the balance of power has shifted. There was a time when consumers relied on brand owners and salespeople to obtain the information they needed, but the wealth of knowledge on the Internet means that today’s consumers can (and usually will) seek out this information on their own. As a result, consumers are more informed, discerning, and skeptical than ever before. The customer is in control, and a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work with today’s savvy consumers.

 

The Importance of a Positive Experience

Although word of mouth has always been an important factor for consumers during the purchasing decision, it has taken on a life of its own in the age of social media and the Internet. Consumers are less trusting of salespeople and marketers than ever before, but they rely heavily on the opinions of their peers…even if those peers are a bunch of strangers on the Internet! Online retail giants like Amazon are loaded with product reviews, and most people will at least consult these reviews when they are making their own purchasing decisions. To put it simply, today’s consumers want proof that others who have already purchased the very products they are considering have had a positive experience.

 

According to Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent transactional communications research, 64% of consumers in North America agreed that when they switched from one provider to another, it was often due to a bad experience. Another 46% reported that they often complained to a company when they provided a bad customer experience.

 

Figure 1: Opinions About a Bad Customer Experience

 

Thanks to the power of the Internet, though, it’s important to remember that dissatisfied customers probably aren’t just complaining to you—they are likely complaining to thousands of others who might also be considering your offerings! Given the credence that most people put into online reviews, the best marketing campaign or sales pitch in the world won’t be enough to offset a series of negative customer experiences. Today’s consumers want to know how you’ve treated your past customers, and this information is now at their fingertips.

 

Of course, the flip side of this is that, just as a negative customer experience might deter a prospective customer from your company, happy customers can be some of your very best advocates. The same Keypoint Intelligence survey revealed that 41% of consumers were likely to post a review or tell others about a great customer experience. Furthermore, 30% of consumers reported that they would pay a premium for an offering if they were guaranteed a good experience.

 

Figure 2: Opinions About a Good Customer Experience

 

It is also interesting to note that respondents under age 35 were particularly likely to agree with these statements: 44% of the youngest respondents reported that they would post reviews/tell others about a good customer experience, and 34% would be willing to pay a premium for a positive experience.

 

Delivering the Best Possible Customer Experience

Brands and enterprises are beginning to understand that when it comes to communication channels, customer preference is paramount. Above all, today’s consumers want the power to decide how their providers communicate with them. Rather than relying on any preconceived notions about what consumers want in today’s digital world, savvy providers are finding ways to communicate with their customers via their preferred channels.

 

Speaking of preconceived notions, it is often assumed that younger consumers are more tech-connected; that they spend more time online and use social media more. Although this is probably true, a Mintel/Comperemedia study found that over half of Millennials and Gen Z consumers were planning to reduce their use of technology as part of their 2020 health and wellness goals. Meanwhile, over 85% of these same consumers were planning to spend more time outdoors. Interestingly, plans to reduce the use of technology and spend more time outdoors were inversely correlated to age. This could be because younger consumers, in particular, are recognizing just how much time they’re spending online, so they are more likely to want to reduce their use of technology and get back to nature. It should also be noted that this survey was completed pre-COVID, so it’s likely that the agreement with these statements might be even higher now.

 

This has created a compelling paradox—even as technology becomes ever-present, consumers (especially younger ones) are working to limit their use of technology for their own well-being. They are trying to disconnect from the digital world so they can reconnect with themselves and other human beings. Marketers need to recognize these sentiments, and they can certainly help with this desire for a human connection. More tactile channels like direct mail or increased customer engagement efforts can go a long way in delivering the best possible customer experience.

 

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, online reviews are a double-edged sword for businesses. While positive experiences can pay dividends in the form of glowing reviews that can help attract new customers, negative experiences can have the exact opposite effect and deter others from your brand. Above all else, today’s consumers are demanding a say in how their providers communicate with them, and many of them are seeking a way to disconnect from our digital world. Giving consumers what they want is an integral component of delivering the positive customer experience that can improve satisfaction and ultimately foster increased loyalty.