Thursday, August 29, 2013

The importance of customer experience in a multichannel world

Why has customer experience become such a hot topic in recent years? What is driving the change?

The concept of customer experience has obviously been around for a very long time, but in the last couple of years it has become a hot topic due to the explosion of digital and social media. It’s all about the shifting balance of power between the customer and the marketer; and with digital media the power belongs to the customer.
Brands and marketers cannot dictate how customers think about brands, so the only way a marketer can attempt to balance out this power shift is to influence the customer experience. 
If marketers can translate their brand story into a real life customer experience, they then get to influence the customer in a favourable manner. Customer experience is all about tapping in to the emotional sentiments of customers.
If a brand can understand a customer on an emotional level and interact with them accordingly, then it’s easier to appeal to them.
Customer experience is the key to a customer’s heart – that is why it’s a hot topic today. So it’s not just about the product and services customers buy, it’s their entire journey; the experience a customer gets before, during and after a product or service is bought. 

Obviously the increased focus on customer experience has been a positive change for consumers, but how has it affected businesses? Has it been a positive change, or an additional drain on resources?

Focusing on customer experience is a game-changing concept for marketers – to think above and beyond the immediate sell and to focus on the entire ‘cradle to grave’ brand experience. Change obviously presents opportunities, and for businesses this is definitely an opportunity, though it is amazing how many organisations even now still do not embrace this.
Digital is a part of everyday life, and not using it to build more engaging experiences, or even to just influence customers – means that organisations would already be a couple of years behind. 
Marketers do need to understand that digital is not something you can just bolt-on around a business and its processes and expect results. If you want to gain long-term advantages from digital then you need to rethink your business strategy in the context of digital dynamics.

Which brands do you think currently deliver an excellent customer experience and why?

Burberry is an great example of a brand delivering excellent customer experiences.

From online to in-store the Burberry the customer experience is unified and well thought out. Most of all it is telling the Burberry story in the context of a customer’s lifestyle.
How RFID technology is used in-store to extend the customer experience via bespoke multimedia content specific to different products and ranges is one of the best customer experience extensions the brand has deployed.
It’s these subtle things that make the customer think about you differently, and eventually turn from being a mere ‘buyer’ of your brand, to a ‘believer’ of your brand.
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