Customers demand good experiences with the brands they purchase from today. They come to expect it. And the voice of the customer continues to get louder and louder. If you fail, it can go viral. Fortunately, no matter what kind of business you’re in, improving your customer experiences is proven to increase retention, satisfaction and revenue. There are countless examples – just have to ask yourself:
- Why do people pay more to have an iPhone?
- How did a cherished company such as IKEA reach $40.2 billion in retail sales?
- Why does Hubspot publish countless free informative blogs without pushing their product?
- Why did LEGO let kids build an 8-foot tall Buzz Lightyear?
It’s because these companies have all committed to the investment of designing for their customer experiences.
In the past, the key was to focus on product or service quality and sales. In this digital age, brands are complex eco-systems. The customer journey is harder to track and control. Customers have more options (e.g., your competitors), greater ease to switch brands (e.g., subscriptions), and the power to affect your brand than ever (e.g., social media, online reviews). So brands that fail to deliver the ultimate experience at any touchpoint will have customers leave them.
How Can You Make Engaging and Memorable Experiences?
- Take it Personally – As a company, you have to take this personally and investigate why people feel the way they do about your brand. The way you think about customer experience will have a profound impact on growing your business.
- Create a Customer-centric Culture – Maintain a “customer-first/business-also” perspective across all departments and business units that satisfies both customers and stakeholders. Marketing, sales, customer service and your supply chain impact experiences, but so do finance, operations, policies, manufacturing, IT and R&D.
- Allocate Budget – This strategic initiative requires explicit budget support. To quantify the benefits later, leaders must build the mathematical correlation of these indirect benefits with accounting metrics.
- Get to Know Your Customers Intimately – Perform user and customer research to understand what they care about, need, and frustrations. Otherwise, you are presumptuous, without being empathetic and your solutions will be misaligned.
- Take a Holistic Approach – Look at everything that affects the customer experience, such as interactions between customers, touchpoints, employees, and backstage actors (e.g., partners/vendors, technology, policies, systems). Scrutinizing all aspects that affect your service or product offering can:
- Reduce customer service interactions
- Increase customer retention
- Increase sales (e.g., by brand evangelists)
- Introduce new products or features by R&D
- Improve operational and supply chain efficiencies
- Minimize billing errors and create more convenient payment methods
- Decrease manufacturing defects through auto-detection
- Frame the Problems Well – The research findings will identify the issues customers are facing and areas to improve that allow you to define and design the best solutions.
- Measure & Iterate – Once implemented, measure the effectiveness of your efforts and iteratively make improvements if needed. This process now becomes your common business practice.
Go For The Heart
Your brand evokes feelings, builds memories and affects behaviors as a result of your brand’s identity, messaging, design and the places it interacts with a customer. Reconsidering the importance of experience design today will benefit your business in higher loyalty, more meaningful engagement, greater relevance and more customer acquisitions.
Customers demand a convenient, personalized experience, so make them know you care by how they interact with your brand. If they like your brand, they will be a long-term customer recommending you to others. In order for that to occur, you need to get to know them to effectively deliver personalized experiences across the entire customer journey. So keep them at the heart of your design process.
If you know someone whose business might benefit by improving their customer experience, please share this article with them. We would greatly appreciate it!