Mastering the art of leaving customers with a personalised experience is no longer merely a matter for the marketing department. It’s become a source of competitive advantage and a critical success factor for companies in Australia and abroad.
KPMG’s 2016 report How Much is Customer Experience Worth? noted the old adage ‘the customer is king’ had latterly become a reality. With 24/7 access to an abundance of options, buyers are spoilt for choice and sellers must vie for their attention. Providing a superior customer experience is one way – and frequently the only way – in which businesses can distinguish themselves, in a crowded marketplace.
Companies that have risen to the challenge of providing superior customer experiences in Australia include Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Bendigo Bank, Bunnings, The Body Shop and Grill’d. All six made it onto KPMG’s 2018 list of Australia’s top rating customer experience brands.
These well-known businesses aced it against the six key metrics used in the study: personalisation, time and effort, resolution, integrity, expectations and empathy.
Gauging your company’s performance in the digital arena
For companies that operate exclusively or substantially in the online sphere, opportunities to interact with customers in real life or garner feedback that indicates whether or not they’re meeting customer expectations, can be limited.
It is, however, possible to get a handle on how you’re doing on the customer experience front using digital metrics – but which ones should you home in on? Clicks and social media likes can give a clue but experience has shown they’re shallow measures. They may provide a snapshot of how customers and prospects feel but they don’t necessarily reflect long-term customer commitment and brand loyalty accurately.
So what should you be analysing and measuring, if you hope to understand how you’re doing from a customer experience perspective? Below are a few tips to consider.
Understanding visitors’ intent
Determining how you can deliver an optimal customer experience to an individual starts with understanding their back story. In the online arena, that begins with capturing visitor intent data – information about the problem or need they are looking to address or the reason they’ve sought out your company. It’s tough to target prospects with personalised, relevant offers in the absence of this information.
Examining the ways in which individuals engage with your online presence can give some insight into their motivations.
Some may have navigated their way to your site via an Instagram post or news story that relates to the product or service you offer, while others may come from a seasonal spike in activity – at Easter, Christmas, end of financial year or some other significant date on the calendar, for example.
The amount of time a customer spends engaging with your site is also a good indicator of whether the value proposition you’re offering is going to resonate – and whether it will result in a sale.
If customers are switching off quickly or navigating a site haphazardly, it may be a sign your business’ online experience is poorly designed and is turning users off, or that the product offering itself needs to be reviewed.
Gauging customer satisfaction
Getting customers is one thing; keeping them is another. Businesses stand a better chance of doing the latter if they find ways to gauge customer satisfaction, not just by way of a peremptory post-purchase survey, but regularly, and at every stage of the customer journey.
Happy customers tend to become loyal customers and, if you’re lucky, will become brand evangelists who’ll spruik your product or service voluntarily to the wider market.
How can you tell if this is happening? A steady stream of customer referrals is one sign and positive online reviews are another. Keeping tally of both makes sense if you’re serious about delivering customer experiences that are head and shoulders above the competition.
Engaged employees equal improved customer experience
It’s impossible to deliver consistently excellent customer experiences without an engaged team of employees. Workers who feel happy and valued are more productive, more enthusiastic in their interactions with customers and more likely to stick around – all positives for any business.
Don’t take it for granted if your employees are happy – keep the lines of communication open, invite their feedback, about the good, the bad and the ugly, and demonstrate you genuinely value their input by acting on concerns and suggestions.
Time to act
In today’s crowded and highly competitive business landscape, Australian enterprises that don’t deliver superlative customer experiences are unlikely to survive. Finding ways to measure the effectiveness of your online efforts will help you up your game, boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, and put your business on sounder and more profitable footing.
By Chris Gibbs, General Manager Asia Pacific and Japan, Acquia