Customer experience and advertising need to be united
The expectation economy has little patience for those that fail to keep up.
For many, customer experience is often viewed as personalised emails, or relevant offers and discounts to encourage future purchasing. It may be the interaction you have with a brand by phone or online perhaps. It could be speed, convenience, or friendliness.
In the past, it may have seemed that advertising affected the pathway to purchase in silo, the customer experience, and the return purchase—however, in today’s highly competitive landscape, it goes way beyond this.
In fact, advertising and customer experience must now work together to ensure a consistent and relevant experience from beginning to end, across every touchpoint a consumer chooses to engage.
As expectations reach a record high, 73% of consumers now state that customer experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions, and a further 66% actually care more about the experience than a brand’s price point.
In order to compete for the top spot, brands must work to deliver a seamless experience that meets consumers ever-evolving expectations in what many are now calling the expectation economy.
As a result, customer experience must now be viewed as multifaceted, and brands must understand how the different ways consumers choose to engage, will ultimately influence that experience significantly.
With more touchpoints, channels and consumer preferences than ever before—arguably heightened by the pandemic—the expectation economy has little patience for those organisations that fail to keep up.
Responding to customer needs in the expectation economy
To respond to the needs of today’s customers—and the ever-evolving challenges thrown up by the expectation economy—it requires a shift from short-term advertising and campaign focused marketing to customer experience management (CXM).
For many years, we have seen marketing departments push what companies are intending to sell through organised campaigns that launched products and services to help build brand affinity and a sales uplift to large audiences.
While this is undoubtedly highly effective and remains an important element of a brand strategy, there have been barriers dividing advertising from other areas of marketing, such as customer relationship management (CRM), and customer loyalty.
Although most business recognise the need for greater customer experience when it comes to customer interaction, it’s often overlooked that we should marry this practice when it comes to media planning and adverting interactions.
The tech takes over
Across all industries, we have seen the tech and data revolution disrupt this top-down, mass-production model. The arrival of the expectation economy has been bubbling way for some time, but the events of the past few years has accelerated its arrival and this means the power of advertising delivered through media alone may be diminished.
Effective tech and data leverage will mean the difference between thriving and merely surviving in the next few years. In the past we’ve seen brands such as Uber and Netflix demonstrate this, disrupting long-standing companies in the blink of an eye and fulfilling a need we as consumers didn’t know we had.
Data and tech are crucial in handling the transformation from historically using data to understand what a company can say to customers en masse to comprehending at an individual level what each customer wants from their relationship with a brand.
Successful CXM is empowered by data and technology, and marketers must use this capability to ensure their customers are at the heart of their strategy to remain relevant.
Integrating CX into media planning
As the expectation economy gathers pace, customer experience and media are becoming increasingly intertwined, and both must operate in tandem to create more valuable and relevant experiences.
Using the full capabilities of the data and technology ecosystem will allow for an understanding of the customer that enables brands to use media for personalised comms as well as aligning their messaging to what customers now want.
To achieve this, brands must ask themselves three fundamental questions when planning comms across the customer lifecycle, irrespective of channel.
The first: how relevant is my proposition for my customers today and tomorrow? As priorities and consumption habits change for consumers it is imperative that brands remain adaptive to the needs of their customers’ needs and reflect their understanding of those needs in their messaging and their delivery of experiences.
Second: how can we improve the experience for customers across the lifecycle? The experience customers have with a brand is fragmented across multiple touchpoints so brands must have the ability to identify the journey stage of their customers through every interaction in order to deliver the optimal experience at the required moment.
And third: how do we grow sustainably so customers choose us for our values? Increasingly, individuals are making more ethical decisions in their daily lives and they expect the same from the brands they chose to interact with. Authenticity is key here so brands must ensure that through every communication and interaction point with customers, the brand values are consistently being applied in whatever environment the interaction happens.
By following these three guiding questions, organisations can ensure that media takes account of those ever-evolving customer expectations by focussing on what customers really want, and the experiences required to deliver against them.
Niyi Duro-Emanuel is SVP UK strategy lead at Merkle EMEA.
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