As you strive to become a more customer-centric organisation, putting the customer at the centre of your digital transformation is the key to success. But how do you get started?
Insight: The need for digital is not solely due to the emergence of new technology. It’s also about helping businesses understand the shift in customer behaviour.
Data: 72% of CEOs think it’s important for an organisation to implement a digital business model, but only 15% feel their own companies have the ability to fully build and leverage such a model. (TechRepublic)
What’s the step change: Understand the changing needs of your customers and respond accordingly to the shifts in customer behaviour. Join our Masterclass on 13 December to learn more.
The key to understanding your customers is in first answering a few core questions that can help you define your future rate of success.
- What drives your customers? Customers today have deteriorated attention spans bombarded by various forms of information every day. Their evaluation cycle has shortened as well, which means you’ll need to adjust your strategy according to a shorter path to purchase.
- How do customers interact with businesses now? Customers are far less patient and expect service delivery to be faster online. Even a ten-second wait for a page to load can make 50% of consumers give up and leave. It’s no longer just about getting your products out there, you have to prepare your products with a specific customer in mind for you to succeed at driving customer loyalty.
- What do customers want and what channels are they using? Customers are now more powerful in making their own purchasing decisions. They need consistency throughout all your offerings across different media channels. The right path to customer-centricity for organisations today is to focus on connecting with customers and being active on the multiple channels that they are using whilst offering them the support they need.
- What do your customers need? Many customers today opt for the “always-on” culture and expect 24/7 access to products and services.
Want to know more? We have 3 great events coming up.
- On 15th November a 2020 Ready Strategy Masterclass
- The future of digital, from mar-tech to disruption on the 6th December
- A repeat of this session, Putting your customers first in digital on the 13th of December
Adding Value for Customers
To add value for customers, you need to find ways to measure how your customers feel about your products and services and identify opportunities to improve the overall customer experience.
You can begin by analysing the customer’s journey from start to finish and look at key processes from the customer’s perspective.
By taking the time to truly understand what customers need, what they feel, and what drives them, you will understand how to best serve them and be better equipped to design rich customer experiences that are built on mutual trust.
With continued clear focus and by building unified and proactive cross-channel services, you can deliver differentiated customer experiences that drive loyalty and repeat sales.
Having a cross-functional capability for collecting, organising, sharing, and gaining insight from market and customer data is also crucial in building stronger customer relationships and drive the results that can lead to increased revenue, profit, and a greater competitive advantage.
5 Steps to Making Customers the Centre of Your Digital World
1. Understand customers in the digital space and your place in it
According to Deloitte, “The real importance of digital to business is not the emergence of new technology; the importance is the shift in customer behaviour. “
Take a moment to consider how customers are in the digital space.
Customers evaluation cycle has shortened.
The bombardment of media, the prevalence of mobile technologies, and high-speed internet have made consumers much more impatient when purchasing products. They are far less patient as online clicking with a mouse is faster than driving to a store, so even a ten-second wait for a page to load can make 50% of consumers give up and leave.
Increased customer power/expectations.
Today’s consumers have better control over their purchasing decisions.
Customers are your best driver for marketing.
Consider that your customer’s positive and negative experiences are amplified in a digital world. Reviews, ratings, guides, posts, blogging, etc. are all ways people talk and express their views on brands. PwC reports that 78% of consumers were influenced by social media in some way when purchasing, while nearly half said that reviews influenced their purchase.
Below are some of the key questions that you need to answer:
- What are you offering?
- Why should customers be with your business instead of someone else?
- What is the interaction customers have with your business? (Purchasing process + user experience + brand tone)
- What channels are you using to reach customers ?
- How do you measure customer experience and business success ?
2. Promote omnichannel touchpoints to gain insights
According to Deloitte, “More than 60% of customers interact through multiple channels and irrespective of time, place, device or medium.”
Customers will interact with a variety of digital touchpoints when purchasing. Promoting an omnichannel digital experience around your business is critical to gaining insights and long term customers.
You must have a consistent and seamless experience across all your platforms. Customers are more conscious than ever before — any inconsistencies could push them away.
Comparing digital and physical touchpoints through the customer journey
When developing your channels, remember the following actionable tips:
Have a complimentary mindset.
The omnichannel approach requires that both physical and digital touchpoints blend into each other. These touchpoints should support each other and allow users to switch between channels without having to repeat information — all with the broader aim of creating one seamless user experience.
Although many businesses will have a different digital platform angle, promoting a seamless integration of all your digital platforms should be always sought after.
Distinguish channel preferences.
Understand which platforms are going to be the most effective for your business model. Are you trying to get customers into physical stores through social media? Are you aiming to get customers to your website store?
These preferences will shift depending on the context of process, location, and time. Take advantage of customer segmentation, and focus on where you target audience is.
Make sure to use all platforms that are available, but make sure that enough resources and time are focused on the platforms with the best outcome for revealing customer data, improve brand awareness, and successful purchases.
Be proactive not reactive.
Figure out ways to be more proactive in reaching and gaining customers. Seek out relevant issues around your business. Inform customers, and provide engaging and valued content for them. Show off new products and insights around your business.
Invest in some type of notification/email/messaging system that allows you to talk directly to customers and help guide them on the purchasing journey. It’s also important to stay on top of customer expectations and actively create the digital conversation around your business.
3. Breakdown data and uncover what customers are seeking
To improve the customer experience, you must find ways to measure user experiences on your digital platforms.
To achieve this, define the measurable goals/metrics that you are seeking and then roll out the technologies and processes needed to achieve them.
Combine data areas.
Using multiple metrics can help you generate a clear picture of what your customers are doing on your platforms. Uncover the sources of where users are coming from, demographics, interests, past purchases, ratings/reviews, etc.
Data in isolation does not reveal exactly what customers are after. Consider the causes and effects of these metrics and how to further develop your channels around them.
Never stop measuring.
Your metrics should be a continuous flow of information that touches upon your measurable goals.
Understand customer intent.
The difference between your customers’ intent and their outcome on your digital platform is their experience. Breakdown customers intents and whether you are succeeding in achieving them.
Qualitative vs quantitative measures.
Using both metrics can create a deeper and clearer picture of what your customers are thinking. Written responses in the form of surveys, comments, reviews can provide detailed and practical insights into how they interact with your platforms. Quantitative data alone is often not enough to develop a great digital user experience.
Early customer testing.
When developing UX on a digital platform, it is always worth trying fresh approaches. Remember that when experimenting with new designs/implementations, commit to using early testing whenever viable. Bringing in customers right from the beginning of the process and exploring multiple variations and concepts allow your business to fully optimise your digital platform to the fullest.
4. Develop an engaging user experience on your platform
Creating an engaging user experience helps improve the journey customers take from first contact to purchasing. After setting up your channels and breaking down the data, you have to keep updating changes to your digital platforms to further improve the customer experience.
Go beyond usability.
The number 1 priority should always be to create an easy-to-use, accessible, and concise user interface. Without these qualities, users will always be left unengaged and will search elsewhere. Remember that 79% of customers admit to searching for another site if the one they landed on does not live up to expectations.
However, usability is only one consideration when developing UX. Applying a deeper meaning/design into an individual page or piece of content can leave customers with a greater appreciation for your brand. Consider unique design decisions that reveal more about the tone of your brand (i.e. colour, spacing, font, images/videos etc.).
Focus on face-to-face channels.
The physical space should be linked seamlessly with your digital platforms. Users should receive the same information and perform the same actions whether at a store or online. The combination of services, sales, and marketing will create positive brand impressions and engage customers.
Connecting your business’s physical and digital spaces into one cohesive experience should be the ultimate aim. The tangibility of the real world alongside the accessibility and ease of the digital ultimately creates the best customer experience.
The Usability Heuristics checklist is a great reference when developing UX.
Case Study: Apple
Apple is a great example of seamless integration of the face-to-face channels with a uniquely designed digital platform.
The website homepage is welcoming and modern, allowing the brand to show off its products and make them the primary focus. This is the main purpose of their website, to sell and advertise their products, not advertise the brand. The design is consistent throughout and minimalistic. It lets the content do the talking.
The website connects to the store with product pick-up, Genius appointment, support and returning products.
These same qualities are complimented when visiting the retail store — being all glass, wide-spaced, and with an abundance of employees and products to engage with. The retail and digital space have the same consistent tone and provide complementary features, allowing customers to have a fulfilling purchasing experience.
5. Nurture a community and reward loyalty
Customer loyalty cannot be forced. It is a gradual process involving a consistent brand, alongside positive, engaging, and rewarding customer interactions.
Remember that first impressions matter: 48% say that the most critical time for a company to gain customers’ loyalty is when they make their first purchase or begin service.
Here are some critical areas to focus on:
Zoom in on customer service.
Generating authentic relationships with customers is critical to building brand loyalty. Human-to-human interactions is the number 1 most effective way to build it.
Even through online channels, customers interacting with another person intrinsically have more trust and confidence in the business. Developing your online platforms helps expand your brand awareness. However, to develop customer loyalty you must use more traditional services such as direct customer service, positive word of mouth, and consistent presentation to help create a relationship.
Engaging with online customer communities inherently contains some risk. You cannot fully control the conversation, and outside factors could play a role. Service teams have to be consistent in their messaging and use best business practices.
Promote active communities.
To create an active community, create a reward system that promotes customers who are engaging with your brand/product. Gamification is the process of taking your digital platforms and integrating game-like mechanics into it, often involving a motivation system based on achieving progress and competing with others.
Your customers will become more engaged with your business and the customer/business relationship will shift into something more meaningful for them.
Case Study: Trip Advisor
Tripadvisor has used many gamification techniques to help develop their digital community. Users can earn special badges and unique offers through posting travel reviews and sharing tips. They can view other profiles and receive scores on the quality of their reviews. Turning the experience of using their platform into something more than just what is being advertised.
The overall aim of an active digital community is that customers will take an active role in helping others in regards to service issues and spread awareness of new products/ services your business is undertaking.
Develop a continuous relationship.
Building a long term relationship with customers requires continuously being in contact and offering both commercial and non-commercial content to engage with.
Investing in digital marketing avenues.
You can do this through creating and publishing Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC), display banner advertising, and media buying.
Creating educational content alongside your business promotion.
Customers trust brands that educate customers and help them make the best purchasing decision. Use blogs, share articles, and send educational emails to help inform customers and build trust through your digital platforms. 77% of content marketers use educational content to nurture their audience.
Promote a loyalty/membership/signup element to your digital platform.
Not only will this provide useful data and insights into your customers, it also gives you the ability to directly communicate with them. Provide discounts, special deals, and other unique business offers to customers who sign up.
Tying It Together
In your brand’s quest for a customer-centric digital transformation, a strategy that keeps the customer top of mind will make all the difference.
It takes careful planning to successfully implement a customer-first digital strategy,one that ensures your time, budget, and resources are adequately spent on areas that deliver results that are aligned with your core goals.
Putting your customers at the forefront of your digital strategy and taking the time to factor in crucial customer data and using that to inform your strategy will help you identify the key areas that you need to focus on to achieve long-term success.