The customer experience floor has been raised. A successful experience is more than amazing your buyers once: it’s about exceeding their expectations whenever they come into contact with your brand.
The challenge is scaling these experiences across the entire customer journey, from consideration to purchase to service engagement to the next purchase. This is an especially challenging feat, especially when lackluster interactions following that initial “wow” moment are working against your efforts.
Here’s a not-so-hypothetical example:
A timely jewelry promotion was enough to prompt someone’s purchase of a bridal set and warranty upsell. “Wow” accomplished.
To honor the warranty, the customer must come into the store bi-annually to have the set inspected. Inconvenient, but fair policy. Here is where the disappointment begins to take over.
Whenever the customer comes in to drop off the set for inspection, it sometimes takes hours for the original transaction to be found in the customer service systems. Major bummer.
Not only is that “wow” long gone, but think about the likelihood of that customer returning when jewelry shopping for anniversaries, gifts, etc.
I am that customer (this is a real story), and I can tell you the likelihood is zero. This was nine years ago, and I’m still salty if you can’t tell. I’m salty because of the poor experience and I still dread my biannual jewelry inspection.
Still, I respect the complexity required to make that experience better — to make it work, brands need to have a full historical view of their relationship with their customer. I was disappointed when they couldn't call up my information, and there are plenty of other ways that a brand can make customer experience a downer: getting customer names wrong, pitching them products they just purchased, reaching out to them on channels they don't want to be bothered on.
To avoid these downers, brands need to be able to compile all the scattered pieces of information they have about their customers and unite them to build a clear picture of who customers are, their history with their the brand, and their likes and dislikes.
Challenge the status quo
If you’re in the business of customer retention and lifetime value, you know that truly understanding your customers in order to give them what they want requires a fundamental shift in mindset throughout the company — and if you’ve been in the space for any amount of time, you know that making this a reality is much harder than it sounds.
You need infrastructure, you need process, you need creativity, you need collaboration and alignment within your organization, you need the right technology. The list goes on, but committing to a truly customer-centric focus revolves around having a foundation to stand on. From revenue decisions to marketing measurement, this infrastructure begins with your data. Solid data that’s both accurate and easily accessible lets brands understand the history of the relationship with the customer, and their likes and dislikes.
Don’t be in the status woe
Being let down as a customer is a total drag. Nobody looks forward to their expectations not being met, but in some ways, we kind of expect it. Especially when retail shopping, or dealing with customer service. But when you think deeply about the times that we tolerate disappointment, it’s only because we have to.
We’re locked into a contract.
It came along with a bundle.
It was the only option at the time.
We didn’t know any better.
In all of these situations, the competitor dating game begins the moment conditions change. Not a recipe for loyalty.
Loyalty is earned over time by proving that you know your customers, understand their needs and value their time and relationship. Not just “wowing” them from time to time.
Be in the status know
In an ideal world, when I went in to have my bridal jewelry set inspected, the staff would have been able to instantly pull up my order information and history with the brand. They should’ve been able to comment on the state of the jewelry since my last visit, and asked me when I would like to set a date for my next appointment. But that didn’t happen, leaving me dissatisfied and unlikely to make any future purchases.
The businesses doing it right and finessing customer loyalty have figured out how to match great products and brand with seamless and intuitive shopping experiences. Companies that miss the mark disappoint consumers and drive them to turn to other brands.
To truly understand your customers and give them the treatment that will make them never want to leave your side, you need a robust foundation of data and the right data tools to access the information.
What I like to say is: “Your data should work for you, not for your competitors.”
We surveyed top retail brands and took note of their ability to identify their “best customers” in our report Think You Know Your Customers? Think Again: The Pitfalls of Misidentifying Your Customers and How to Avoid Them.