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Customers use a variety of new channels and technologies to improve their shopping experiences and enhance their lifestyles. Whether looking to discover the best prices for products or services, accomplish goals, seek recommendations, find inspiration or ultimately complete a purchase, these customers are not afraid to switch brands to achieve their aim.
According to an Accenture Global Consumer survey, 51 percent of US consumers switched service providers within a year. Switching rates were highest among retailers, cable and satellite providers and retail banks, making businesses in these sectors the most vulnerable.
To counteract this trend, businesses need to act quickly and boldly. The next frontier in customer experience is engagement, because an engaged customer is much more likely to be a repeat customer. Case in point; according to the book Marketing Metrics, businesses have a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to an existing customer, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5 to 20 percent.
Traditionally, a business’s marketing team has led the charge in attracting customers and increasing awareness of the brand, products and promotions. Customer relationship management tools are used where possible to track and connect with customers.
The ubiquitous uptake of social networking has added new channels, and businesses are increasingly using social media to draw in customers through dialogue, campaigns and ads. In some cases, businesses are also using social media profiles to better target customers. However, these activities only touch the surface of what is possible.
Current engagement strategies focus on the customer “purchase funnel” and typically address the customer outside of the context of a need. When a business advertises on TV, emails a coupon or tweets an offer, the customer must be persuaded to associate the business with a future need, recall the business when that need arises and remember why that business should be chosen over the competition.
Outside research confirms Accenture’s high-level findings:
Customers want retailers to understand who they are and how they evolve.
Customers continuously seek to reinvent themselves, so they want to be creative and be given the opportunity to explore.
Customers’ leisure time is increasingly important, so they do not want to waste it browsing through products. They want to save time and quickly and easily arrive at solutions. Forrester says, “The revenue impact from a 10-percentage-point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.”
Customers want their concerns to be taken seriously, so they want to be heard and seen—they are “very likely” to abandon an online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions, according to Forrester.
Above all, customers want to be unique and to experience the world around them uniquely. An Econsultancy/Monetate Realities of Online Personalization report found that “94 percent of businesses believe that personalization is critical to current and future success.”
By interacting in the customer’s everyday activities, businesses will have an advantage over competitors by always being at the top of their customer’s mind. The relationship between the business and the customer becomes more personal and equally beneficial for both parties because the business grows loyal customers and the customer receives services that enhance his or her experiences.
By staying top of mind, the business develops loyal customers who think about the business first and recommend it to others, becoming advocates or evangelists of the brand. These advocates—together with the services the business enables (contextualized product discovery, integrated social support and intelligent lifelong services)—will be key to attracting and retaining new customers.
Customer engagement interactions should evolve beyond connecting channels to connecting to the lives of customers. The seamless lifestyle experience strategy (identify > design > integrate > enable) will help businesses harness the appropriate data and develop analytics that will help them get to know their customers as unique individuals. We call this the digital customer genome, or what every business should know about its customers based on traditional and nontraditional sources of data.
May 21, 2014
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