• October 26, 2021
  • By Evan Nicholson , digital experience practice director, Merkle

Better Customer Experiences Make a Bigger Impact Than You Might Think

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What is a great customer experience worth? As a marketer, you intuitively know that you make an impact on our brand’s value proposition. But it can be hard to quantify exactly how the experience impacts other factors, such as how much customers are willing to pay and how they perceive quality.

In fact, Merkle’s 2021 Consumer Experience Sentiment Report found that 88 percent of respondents who felt like brands were listening to their needs viewed those brands’ products as having a higher quality. And 91 percent were either slightly or significantly more likely to make a repeat purchase with the brand.

Are you losing out on massive potential through complicated customer experiences? According to Siegel+Gale, brands leave $98 billion on the table by failing to provide “simple” experiences.

There are three key steps on the path to solving the issues that lead to all of this missed revenue. But before you begin to fix the problems, you have to identify their origins.

Five Areas Where Customer Experiences Go Wrong

Here are five common pitfalls where brands fail to live up to experience expectations.

1. Insufficient understanding of customers and their needs. To provide relevant and timely experiences, you first must identify your customers, recognize where they are in their life cycle, and seek to understand what they are looking for. This is accomplished by having a handle on your first-party data and identity-recognition approach. It also means democratizing access and activation to more marketing functions, closer to the moment of interaction.

2. Selfish experiences. Websites that are more a reflection of company priorities than users’ needs; too many clicks; unnecessary fields demanding information that will never be used; unclear or too urgent calls to action—all of these negatively impact the user experience and perception. Do you demonstrate customer-centricity in your experiences? If so, that halo effect translates to the products you sell.

3. Poor mobile experience design. There is no excuse for your experience not to be mobile-optimized.

4. Underperforming content. Personalized, impactful experiences require loads of content. If your content doesn’t grab customers’ attention, provide the level of detail they need, and establish trust in the product and your brand to deliver on time, then they won’t make it to the purchase.

5. Abandoned conversions. Baymard Institute found that 68.8 percent of people abandon their checkout, and one in five said it was because the experience was too complicated. That’s because the average checkout process has nearly 15 form fields. How many fields do you like to fill in when shopping for yourself?

Three Steps to a Better Customer Experience

Personalization is not an end; it’s a means to an end. It is a vehicle to help get you to where you need to be with your customers.

Consider how you can use your personalization engine to understand the people who buy and who don’t—to identify their signals and react to those signals in the right time and place.

Processes will vary from team to team and organization to organization. But the path to a more impactful customer experience can be summarized in three big steps.

Step 1: Identify the moments that matter. Moments are all of the individual touchpoints that make up the experiences that form and define the consumer-brand relationship. But not all of them can be seen and impacted by marketers, so take a step back and look at where inflows and outflows happen, talk to your customers, and look at the data to identify trends at a segment and audience level. This step is about gaining an intimate understanding of your customers, so you can know when important moments are happening and can enable automation and customization to act on them.

Step 2: Build a framework for value. This framework should consist of the brand’s overarching objectives, its platforms and capabilities, and the multi-channel customer journey. It will also account for your audiences, their behaviors and values, the content and solutions you have to offer, and the objectives and KPIs associated with those solutions.

The purpose is to reframe the objectives and capabilities through the lens of responding, proactively or reactively, to customer and journey signals with a clear view to where customer lifetime value, engagement, and conversion meet customer insights.

Step 3: Deploy, learn, iterate. Consumer expectations and behaviors evolve so often that even when we reach an “optimized” level for today, the bar for success will still move tomorrow. There will be a new pattern, a new social platform to pop up, a change in consumer attitudes.

I often meet with marketers who have inspiring ideas for how to customize experiences for their customers. Those ideas and more need to be developed and refined in market through testing and learning. Incorporating your customer into the decision-making process is critical to success. Ideally, you’ll start with direct customer research, but the scale and momentum comes from ongoing, iterative experimentation to refine these ideas and create new breakthrough enhancements.

Consider your intelligent experiences a part of the brand, and design them as a relationship-building engine so you are continuously improving and optimizing your experiences. Your customers will thank you.

Evan Nicholson is digital experience practice director at Merkle, where he works with enterprise brands across industries including health, finance, automotive, entertainment, and retail to define and develop people-centric marketing that has a measurable impact for the businesses and their customers.

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