Double Down On The Brand Experience To Win The Customer Lifecycle

Blame selfies, social media, fast food or any myriad of factors that have shaped our modern instant gratification lifestyles, but consumer expectations are higher now than ever. Life in the age of rapid customer feedback – from Yelp reviews, to trending topics, to shared recommendations – has led brands to recognize that, on a fundamental level, any product is actually a series of experiences, and it’s the positivity or negativity with which those experiences are received that determines a brand’s sustained success.

When a customer engages with a quality product, or kind and helpful customer service, or ads that are intriguing, on-point and correctly personalized, those experiences earn the brand mental chips that get cashed when it’s time for a happy customer to buy a new product, or recommend one to a friend. On the ugly flip side: when a customer has the experience of receiving a bill in the mail on which representatives of the brand have renamed them as a swear word (as seen in one of the latest Comcast fiascos), that customer likely becomes an influencer working against your brand, and probably can’t be counted on to stick around as a repeat buyer.

In this environment, companies are making brand experience a priority to win the customer lifecycle. A 2015 survey of digital trends by Econsultancy found that 22 percent of client-side organizations rate customer experience as this year’s single most exciting opportunity, and that 78 percent are attempting to differentiate through customer experience. At the same time, brands have become wise to the fact that dependably creating positive customer experiences requires a holistic approach , where the goal permeates all departments within an organization (clearly at Comcast, marketing and customer service aren’t on the same page).

This comes as price competition is shrinking away, with only 5 percent of companies surveyed responding that price is a primary way they will seek to differentiate from competitors. Brands have found that a customer’s desire to receive an enjoyable, consistent, and personalized experience can carry even more sway than their pocketbook, and they are adjusting their values accordingly.

The cultural shift necessary to bring employees at every level of a company together around great customer experience, means investing in the long-term customer lifecycle above other traditional business goals – and that transition may mean overcoming friction. Across all the ways customers will touch on a brand, from the product, to marketing materials, to social, to website, to customer service, consistency and personalization are what make customer experiences both positive and memorable. When customers feel that the brand knows whom they are and speaks to them with a single voice across various channels and touch points, they’re best able to accumulate a feeling of trustworthiness and brand loyalty. The numbers strongly support this approach: the Econsultancy survey found that, on average, businesses focusing on personalizing the customer experience were rewarded with a 14 percent increase in sales.

The real excitement here is that a new focus on customer service can be the catalyst for a company’s creative reinvention. Experimentation and the discovery of innovations to add to the best practices repertoire, not only helps keep creative thinking fresh and more likely to deliver on customers’ current needs, it also gets employees motivated to keep pushing and improving their standards. Experiments lead to new and memorable customer experience solutions, and drawing everyone in an organization together to support these new concepts fosters a unity that can multiply success.

The trend is that one day soon, everyone will act as a marketer (the more the merrier!). While a 2014 Adobe ‘Digital Roadblock’ survey of marketers found that personalization ranked as the most important capability for future marketing efforts, the future of customer experience is being achieved by removing personalization from the marketing silo and considering the customer journey from every perspective within an organization.

In the Econsultancy survey, 38 percent of organizations see omni-channel personalization becoming a reality in 2015, with 65 percent more likely to agree than disagree with that statement. And this trend reaches into both the B2C and B2B worlds: whereas in 2014 B2C marketers were 55 percent more likely to be focusing their efforts on customer targeting and personalization, in 2015 they are only 18 percent more likely.

All of this is fantastic news for people who buy things; customers have brands right where they want them. The predicted future is one where every person in a company has the customer in mind, from marketing, to accounting, to product design, to HR, all combining their knowledge and talents and integrated technologies to better serve and understand the needs of the end user.

The customer is always right. And as brands discover that genuine personalization and consistency at every level is also what’s best for business, they’re quickly learning to do right by each individual customer – and will be rewarded in the long run.