By now, any serious brand knows that the success of their business revolves around the customer. Creating a ‘cool’ product, receiving seed funding or an A-class team is no guarantee of building a flourishing venture. We all know of such a company that has had such a make-up but sadly, was swept away by the harsh realities of doing business.
While more and more businesses acknowledge the fact that the customer is the pivot around which to centre their business strategy, it is still a long walk for many. Indeed, with the highly dynamic and ever changing nature of the modern day customer and with the onset of endless data around us, it can get dizzying trying to compile the data through varying charts, graphs and tables. Formulating business logic and meaning from the data to drive strategy and operations then becomes another headache altogether.
Away from the gloomy perspective though, what does it really take to craft a successful marketing strategy? What should be the key driving force when spelling out the goals and objectives that guide the rest of the strategy? Customer experience. This, we strongly believe, should be the guiding light for any business that intends to grow and soar in this day and age.
Customer experience is the emotional and physical immersion that a consumer goes through as they engage with your brand and product offerings. It involves all the touchpoints, both online and offline, and emotional connections that a business builds with their customers.
The biggest headache that makes creating exceptional customer experience a tall order for many businesses is that it is all about appealing to emotions. Oddly enough then, a marketing strategy designed to wow customers could easily end up disgusting them and we’ve definitely come across such failed attempted by businesses. However, we believe to achieve a strategy firmly anchored on offering outstanding customer experience, the following principles would be of help:
1.Get to know your customers FIRST
As humans, the only way we can know how to relate with each other is by first taking time to learn and understand each other. For a business, the rule isn’t any different. Getting to know your customers will definitely offer you insights, disapprove your assumptions and make you focus on areas you had intended to gloss over. To get to know your customers, data will be your key ally in this. The idea of conducting a market research will have to be actualized and through a well-planned and intentioned pursuit of consumer data, a business will make key findings that could significantly alter the direction the business takes.
With massive technology all around us, market research has never been easier to undertake. From SMS deployed questionnaires through platforms such as (find one/two) to online platforms such as SurveyMonkey, you could roll out and conclude a research in under a week.
2.Involve the consumer in the product development from the onset
While it could be unique and talk of the town if you launched a new product as a total surprise to the market and it garners impressive sales, but what if the product ends up failing spectacularly? What if your product started gaining such negative reviews on your Facebook page, for example, that you get tempted to delete the page?
Picture the opposite of the above scenario. You create a closed Facebook group, and seek out a select number of potential consumers of your product whom you invite into the group. With a small incentive for them on the side, you offer them your product first and ask them to share with you candour on what they think about it. Through their feedback, you’ll be able to collect vital feedback that helps you refine your product. This example is simple and practical, but how many businesses have actually ever tried this?
If using a Facebook group is not ideal for your product or target market, there are definitely more options available that will suit any business under the sun, however exclusive or luxurious your products may be. Just take time to think through and brainstorm.
3.Create a clear and open suggestion channel for your customers
If a customer wanted to share with you their feedback on how to improve your product or service, how easily and quickly would they find a means both offline and online to do so? Most businesses with websites simply have a ‘Contact Us’ page for web visitors to drop their ‘enquiries or feedback’. Very few ask clearly and categorically for suggestions on how to improve their products. Maybe this is due to the underwhelming belief in the power of asking. People will freely and to your disbelief offer your business lots of feedback, but only if you ask for it clearly and consistently. Don’t swallow that opportunity up just by asking for ‘enquiries and feedback’.
As a standard web design, create a contact form that displays on every page of your website. Make it easily visible and enticing, but without being too prominent as to overshadow content on the rest of a page. As a mark of appreciation, you could offer such customers a coupon for their effort. Give and you shall receive in abundance.
If you run a brick and mortar business, create quick fill in forms that ask for customer suggestions. Place the forms in multiple locations within the premises and make them easily noticeable. Go a step further and provide a pen nearby. Basically, do all it takes to not only encourage your customers give you feedback, but enable them offer deep and meaningful suggestions that will be worthy of a board meeting discussion.
4.Build a seamless omnichannel marketing funnel
Nothing is as frustrating for a customer who spots a product on an ecommerce site and on visiting the business shop to buy, finds out the product is out of stock or worse still- was discontinued. Or we all know of that business that claims to have an ecommerce site where placing an order leads you to nowhere.
Making half-hearted attempts at creating an omnichannel marketing funnel is worse than not having one at all. It’s better not to raise your customers’ expectations at all than to do so and end up disappointing them. Disappointments will more likely lead your customer to walk away, gracefully, to your competitor. Today there exist advanced yet relatively affordable ERPs that can integrate your ecommerce site to your physical store. Buying such systems independently without considerations of how they can work together will not get you anywhere to building an omnichannel.
5.Always find ways to appreciate your customers
Humans are emotional beings. Every buying decision we make is majorly influenced by our emotions. The logical reasons we create after the emotional effect such as saving on cost, trying something new, giving ourselves a well-deserved break are simply justifications for what our hearts already pushed us into. For the same reason that made a customer be attracted to your products, a business has to find unique and effective ways of reminding their customers what really made them choose their brand.
The business world today has become so noisy that a customer can easily be carried away to competitors who will still meet their emotional demands of happiness, satisfaction and value for money. More than just offering discounts and coupons, there have to other non-monetary strategies that connect to your customers’ hearts.
At Phenom Digital, for example, we offer the Social Hub (place link) which is a powerful marketing technology that suits this purpose. The Social Hub is a technology that enables businesses build a platform where conversations among your customers on social media can be curated, displayed and turned into a marketing asset.
With the massive online positive reviews that companies get from their customers, the Hub enables a company bring together all this content, curate the authentic and personal stories and display them attractively as a microsite, on displays within a retail space and offices, and on screens during an event. This not only serves to appreciate your customers for taking time to review and comment on your product, but also offers prospects social proof from one source, making it easy for them to review the feedback and make a purchase fast enough.
6.Offer value for money
I stated earlier on how a great customer experience is all about emotions. Well, money and human emotions have a unique relationship that has been around for centuries. No one is happy when they get a raw deal from making a purchase. Some of us can go around cursing after that till we run out of breath. As a business, you don’t want to have your customer walk away with that feeling.
Value for money involves many things around your product: quality, quantity, packaging, usability, reliability, hygiene, safety standards amongst others. If you are in the business of selling sub-standard and overpriced products, then you are in the wrong business. It doesn’t matter how affordable a business intends to make a product be; it will be worthless if the product ends up creating more harm than good for the consumer. As you smile your way to the bank at the end of the day, make sure your customer will smile their way to bed that night too.
7.Offer a REAL product
This comes last, but it’s actually the most important part of a successful marketing strategy. The downside of marketing is that some businesses easily misinform their target market, making them buy into products that end up solving zero of their problems. We have all bought that software or electronic gadget at the stores only to realise after some time that the product offers very little, if any, help to our lives.
A business offering products that are simply bells and whistle will have a hard time offering meaningful customer experience. If anything, they stand the sure risk of running out business because thanks to the online space all around us, bad news travels really fast. Getting negative reviews for such brands is always a click away.