Customer experience: the new battleground

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Customer experience is the next big battleground for businesses and brands to conquer. I’m convinced of it. It doesn’t matter if you get everything else right. If your customer experience is lousy, frustrating, over-complicated or full of unnecessary obstacles, you’re dead in the water.

Thanks to the growth of the internet as a tool for setting up a business during a long period of cheap debt which saw widescale investment in start-ups, you probably compete against many other brands in your sector. Customers enjoy plenty of choice. Following the global economic crash, however, customers have less money to spend, meaning a typical over-supply of providers in your market chasing customers. Those customers’ radars will be on alert for any reason to spend their money elsewhere. Customer experience matters.

Unfortunately, there are multiple stumbling blocks to achieving great customer experience. Like many business challenges, the first problem boils down to who owns what. In being responsible for the communications that reach customers, marketers own the brand promise. Broadly speaking, they don’t own the delivery on that promise. Execution is left to various other departments, from operations to logistics and from sales to IT. With different targets and metrics used to measure success, it is not hard to see how the brand promise can get lost or suffocated in the machinery of a big corporate.

Common sense suggests improving the brand’s customer experience would be welcomed. Try telling that to the guy who’s got to pay for it.

The second problem facing anyone interested in delivering a great customer experience is convincing the management that it merits serious investment. To do this, you have to make the impact of good customer experience on your organisation’s bottom line very clear.

Satisfied customers buy more and recommend more. Intuition and common sense suggests that efforts to improve a brand’s customer experience would be welcomed by everyone internally. Try telling that to the guy who’s got to pay for it. Or the person who is measured on cutting costs. Former Hilton global marketing boss Mike Ashton, More Than’s head of customer retention Rachel Waterston and Eurostar’s sales and marketing director Emma Harris are among the industry’s finest proponents of customer experience and making it work. They all know how to use numbers to tell a story, how to build a business case so compelling that it can’t be ignored. Their brand stories can all be found in Michael Barnett’s cover feature on how and why you should push for investment into your customer experience.

The way your brand’s customer journey is viewed internally is probably not the way it is viewed by your customers. If you aren’t looking at it with objective eyes, you should be.

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