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How To Create An Engaging Customer Experience

Vicki O'Neill Cincinnati Marketing and Sales

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Video introduction to this topic

As Steve Jobs quoted "You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology." He may have known a thing or two about creating intrigue, customer experience and loyalty when he and Steve Wozniak founded Apple.

In Mr. Jobs quote, and how you'll hear Simon Sinek refer to Apple in his book "Start With Why", is that Apple knew that to be different they needed to create a compelling customer experience. Then, in communicating the launch of their first iPhone, it's not described as a phone that you can carry around with you. It's described from the user perspective, what they will experience, how it will impact their life. How they told the story created intrigue as to how they knew what we wanted, how it was positively going to impact our lives and how easy and fascinating it would be to use. Not to mention the features, colored screen and ease of use!

What the Apple team did was tell a story about why you need to buy the iPhone. They didn't market the product's features. They focused on the "why" to create the story and customer experience -- first.

So, what is "customer experience"?

Customer experience is the interaction between a consumer and an organization throughout the business relationship - from creating awareness to purchase then continuing to fostering the relationship to maintain loyalty until they are ready to purchase again.

The better the experience, the higher the loyalty. In fact, Oracle conducted a study that found 74% of executives surveyed believe that customer experiences impact the level of loyalty. If customers are happy with your brand, they will continue doing business with you, not your competitors.

A few important facts to support why having a compelling customer experience is important:

  • According to Harvard Business Review, companies that implement a customer experience strategy achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn and increased revenues.

  • In addition, 60% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience according to research conducted by American Express.

  • Lastly, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% compared to the probably of selling to a new customer which is 5-20%, according to Marketing Metrics.

When creating the customer experience, keep in mind that customer expectations are at their highest. And with only 7 seconds to get and keep their attention, you'll want the touch points to create an emotional response but you can also keep it short and simple.

The 5 Steps to Creating an Engaging Customer Experience

  1. Create a clear customer-centric vision Why do your customers buy from you and why are you in business? Use your company's mission and passion to create the vision, taking a customer focused approach, then communicate the details and goals to the team. Ensure everyone understands the direction and provide training to ensure consistency throughout your organization.

  2. Know your ideal customer Of those repeat and loyal customers, what behaviors do they have, what feedback do they provide, what data do you have in order to create segments or personas. With that information, you will be able to hone in on more unique experiences within your customer base as a result of their purchasing patterns. You can then deliver relevant messages on relevant platforms to create the path and drive the behavior that creates action.

  3. Identify how you will create an emotional connection People buy from brands who create an emotional response. When you know why you're in business and doing what you're doing, the passion that drives your behavior needs to be seen in the messages you're delivering to your target audience. Emotional connections to a brand drives customer satisfaction. Create a flowchart of how you envision the experience and to demonstrate touch points.

  4. Drive key behaviors through the process Using prospects in your target market as an example...Do you want to take a mixed media approach? What's the first thing you want them to receive? How do you want them to respond? With that emotion, what do you want them to do? You have their attention - how can you maximize that time? How will you capture data, connect with them on your digital platforms, provide additional information, etc.? There are many factors to think through and reason it's important to know "why" you're moving in this direction. Monitor the path and identify "drop off's" or non-responses so you can evaluate.

  5. Measure and monitor results How do their behaviors reflect your strategy? Were the results what you expected? What training needs to occur internally? What needs to change when the process is repeated?

If creating a customer experience is new to you, start with a small group or sample to create your strategy and process. Make sure you have all the stakeholders involved - either obtaining their approval, review, activity, etc.

The above deck has a slide that shows a customer experience that I created for new prospects. The brands and names have been removed but the process and flow is an example of what the process looked like - including action at various touch points.


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