Today, an organization's ability to competitively position and differentiate depends upon the experiences they create for their customers. Experiences that resonate change the way a company is perceived, forge customer trust, and improve financial performance. If the experience falls flat, companies face not only losing one customer but also others within the dissatisfied customer's network. Trust and transparency are the foundation of superior customer experience. Marketing has a critical role to play in the development and execution of differentiated customer experiences that build customer trust and loyalty.
Knowing your customers is the holy grail of marketing. When you know your customers and think in terms of their needs and their perspective, your impact on the customer journey and experience becomes exponentially more powerful.
Here are three of the most critical best practices every marketer must adopt to contribute to and strengthen the customer experience in 2020.
1. Discover Your Customers’ Personas and Segmentation
It’s not enough to learn your target customer’s basic demographics or track their "digital exhaust" through cookies to really understand your customers. While their age, gender, and zip code do matter to your business, to understand and to build trust with your buyer, you must dig in to discover what matters to them through personas and segmentation.
The customer journey is strengthened when you seek to uncover what is unique, what is valuable, and what is changing in their world. This knowledge can unlock the ultimate perspective of your customer's mindset and help you inform marketing strategies that strengthen the customer experience. When you can use your customer personas and segmentation to look at the journey from their point of view, you can see new opportunities to improve and differentiate through experience.
2. Ask Your Customers for Their Advice
Harvard Business Review recently published a fascinating study about the power of advice vs. feedback. While both advice and feedback are critical to the customer journey, one is positive and builds momentum while the other encourages negative critique. Feedback is often too vague and doesn't offer tangible solutions on how to improve the customer experience. When people are asked to advise on how to make improvements, there is a higher probability that the customer will provide actionable input. Customers want to know that businesses are invested in them and what better way than to proactively seek their advice on what they desire from their customer journey.
3. Choose Contextualization over Personalization
The days of exclusively using third-party data and customers' digital exhaust—personal data collected without explicit consent to create a personalized customer experience—are over. The stories of how brands have gotten this wrong are broad and unfortunate. Some of the worst offenses include the long-running advertisement in Spanish targeting a Portuguese speaker and a plus-size clothing company sending offers to a petite new mom who worked so hard to successfully "lose the baby weight." These attempts at personalization didn't factor in contextualization—delivering the right content at the right time to the right audience.
Above all else, as marketers we have a great responsibility to improve the customer experience and journey continuously. You can make the most valuable impact when you truly know your customers. By developing authentic messaging for your unique buyer personas, asking for the customer's transparent advice, and closing the loop with the right offers and messages in the proper context, a superior customer experience begins. Furthermore, when we take the customer’s advice and wisdom to heart and close the loop with the right offers and messages in the proper context, the customer, the marketing team, and the business win.
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