The Evolution of Customer Experience And How We Can Change Our Thinking To Embrace It.
The way businesses engage with customers today has come a long way. Recently I was just explaining to a client about the different possibilities on how to improve customer experience. Seeing her fascinated with so many opportunities inspired me to create this blog and share my thoughts with you all.
To talk about the evolution of Customer Experience, we need to look back to the 80s when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was created. The initial goal was to record information from clients that would support the sales team with a greater understanding about who they were dealing with. It didn’t take long for companies to start introducing loyalty programs to reward customers each time a purchase was made, or for being a long-standing member. Those loyalty programs allowed companies to collect important data and segment their databases.
Since then, through the introduction of smart phones and social media, people have started spending more time online. This opens up exciting new ways to engage with audiences and allow for additional brand awareness. Businesses of all sizes happily take advantage of these new opportunities.
However, when every business seems to have access to same audience, it has become increasingly difficult to cut through the noise and stand out amongst the competition. In order to do so, companies started to use CRMs and other software to understand their customers on a deeper level. Marketers began to use the data collected to in turn give the audience what they wanted; a ‘shareable experience’.
Nowadays, whether it’s an in-store experience, or having coffee with friends, it’s only when something extraordinary happens with some emotional attachment that the moment will be posted and shared online. For a brand to be more successful, they must understand this concept and create more meaningful content. Consumers can identify with that content on some emotional level, are more likely to share it, or at least engage with it.
People expect products to be a close representation of their passions, interests and lifestyles.
Every generation is searching for their own identity, while still trying to remain part of a group. If we look at Generation X, it was all about the brand dictating to us what was cool, and what wasn’t. This led to where we are now: saturated consumers who have decided to create their own, more individual style, and are no longer dictated to by brands.
This new style is more reflective of the environment in which consumers inhabit, encouraging brands to look for new ways to engage with them by turning to people we know today as ‘influencers’. Influencers are people who have created an identity that consumers can find a more emotional connection with. Someone they are willing to follow, and be swayed by.
In saying that, customers still value the human connection as it’s always nice to see a face behind the curtains. Consumers want to know who is making the products they are buying, or who is providing the services they are engaging, and under what conditions those products are enacted.
An excellent example of this can be found in Kettle Chips, who used track-and-trace codes on every bag of chips sold. Purchasers could see videos of the potato farmers growing the potatoes that were used to make the chips in their bag. This produced a level of transparency that served to increase brand accountability and trust.
Look for different ways to increase your customer trust
Understanding your customers needs is also about considering the best way to increase their trust of your brand. Canada Goose nailed it when they created dressing rooms where the temperature was -20℃. Consumers could try out their winter jackets in a real-life environment. Canada Goose was smart in raising a new level of trust as customers could try before buying and confirm the quality claims made about the quality of the product.
So, how can you find inspiration to become more creative?
Well, the secret is: Know your customer as much as you can!
Try starting with a Consumer Journey Map, where you map out your consumer’s journey and analyse their behaviours and insights, especially things like lifestyle. By this, you can track daily activity patterns and routines.
These insights can be applied to different channels to create a single, more contextualised view of the consumer’s daily journey.
Once you identify the patterns, and can begin to predict modelling, and proactively offer the right experiences in real-time to engage customers better. It's important to offer them what matters the most, something they can connect with.
If you want to discuss these ideas and more, feel free to book a 30min chat with me, free of charge. I’d love to know more about you, and of course, your business to help improve your customer experience.