If you have been in business for the past few years, you have probably heard the term ‘customer experience’. It’s time to discover what the new sales and marketing buzzword really means.

So What is Customer Experience?

There are many opinions about when customer experience first became a concept, but the two-way relationship between buyer and seller really opened up with the invention of the switchboard, which allowed for communication between both. Sellers could tell buyers about their products, while the technology opened sellers up to critiques and criticism from their buyers.

However, ‘customer experience’ emerged as a business buzzword earlier in the decade and its prevalence has snowballed since. It is a term designed to encompass everything involved in the entire interaction between a customer and a brand. It goes far beyond the one transaction; it is used to reference the entire relationship. For a customer going to the cinema, the customer experience could incorporate the website, the device for printing tickets, the interaction with the staff member at the candy bar, the seats inside the cinema and the movie itself.

What’s the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience?

Customer service principally revolves around the interaction between two people – typically, the purchasing transaction, while customer experience incorporates every transaction, touchpoint and interaction over the life of the relationship between customer and brand. Forbes summed it up by saying that customer service is the “bare-bones” transaction between customer and brand, while customer experience considers every component of the relationship with the customer.

How Broad is Customer Experience?

Considering the definition of customer experience, Forbes points out that it will include what a customer will “think, see, touch and smell” as well as the service they will experience. It is anything that will influence what a customer thinks of a brand. In the cinema illustration above, it includes the speed of the website, how user-friendly the credit card payment is, the taste of the butter in the popcorn and even the quality of the pre-movie trailers.

However, mapping customer experience goes far beyond even this. More than 50 per cent of buyers are more than halfway through their buying journey before they even reveal themselves to you. Before they make contact to purchase, or leave their details, they might be researching your SME using a search engine, looking into reviews, viewing your website – or they might have seen one of your social media ads or read some of your content marketing efforts. In the movie illustration above, these customers might be people who have taken a printout of session times or looked inside the cinema foyer while at the shopping centre. If the presentation, for example, isn’t to the liking of your potential customers, they may go no further in your sales funnel.

The Importance of Personalisation

Perfecting the customer experience involves considering almost every facet of your business. In addition, every customer comes to your business with their own perceptions and prior experiences – meaning he or she expects to be treated in a personal way. The importance of personalisation of the customer experience has never been greater; a Segment survey found that 71 per cent of consumers become frustrated at impersonal experiences.

What would a personalised brand look like? It would have the customer’s preferred purchase options on the website when he or she visits. It might follow up with an email when that product is expended and offer another purchase. It could offer easy contact to an expert within the brand’s community or point the customer to a piece of content solving a pain point.

It’s Easier to Focus on Retention

 

A Lee Resources survey (quoted here by Econsultancy) found that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than retain an existing one. On a logical level, it is easier to retain these customers because you already have a relationship – and, hopefully, the data that will assist you with marketing yourself to them. A report by KPMG found that businesses in the modern era are recognising this reality, with 52 per cent ready to make customer retention the new battleground by targeting and personally engaging their existing customers.

Bringing it all together

Delivering incredible customer experiences involves designing almost every part of a business to satisfy customers and ensuring its efforts are personalised.

So how is that possible?

Be different

– this allows an SME to stand out from its competitors. A product or service with a point of difference has a clear place in the mind of consumers. Don’t copy competitors. Shockingly, in a Forrester survey published in Harvard Business Review, 58 per cent of respondents said they drive customer experience by looking at their competitors and 72 per cent actually aimed to copy other businesses. How can a personalised experience be delivered using the same mechanisms as a competitor?

Try account-based marketing

still a relatively new concept, account-based marketing involves treating each customer as a specific sales account. It involves carefully curating content for specific clients an SME has or wants to have, which means the approach is highly personalised and plays into the hands of SMEs with an alignment between sales and marketing. However, getting the approach correct is crucial.

Use your customer relationship management (CRM) tool

– the CRM is the foundation of an SME’s efforts to create incredible customer experiences. Using the data collected from every touchpoint, including those created through website browsing trails and online ad clicks, SMEs can create customer profiles, allocate content or change website preferences based upon these. A powerful CRM system, like Sales Cloud, can even deliver unseen insights about your data, make predictions, or allow functions to be automated.

 

What Blirt does

At Blirt, we help SMEs deliver amazing customer experiences through the entire customer journey through a process of digital transformation across sales, marketing, services and finance.

We specialise in strategies like content marketing, account-based marketing, digital media, onsite conversations and search engine optimisation. We are also a Salesforce Cloud Alliance Partner and a Salesforce Pardot Select Partner that can help you get the most out of your Sales Cloud platform.

If you would like to get started or find out more, we can book a discovery call to find out what you need and tell you more about our approach.

Want to know more, you can talk to us here, blirt.co/hello