Marketers and advertisers are in the business of influencing. The hope of each campaign is to convey a message that is so relevant, timely, and/or resonating that it will influence a potential consumer to act. Sometimes, before they even need it. However, a key component to influencing a consumer is in the consumer experience. The advertisement or concept could be brilliant, but if there are multiple road blocks at any point during the consumer journey, the effects are null.
In today's market, consumer experience looks very different. Websites, social media, email, message boards such as reddit, reviews, communications portals, and more have been thrown into the mix. Everything a brand or business does relates to customer experience, and it turns out companies aren't so great at it. According to Forbes, in 2018 89% of companies compete primarily on customer experience, but while 80% of companies believe they excel in consumer experience, only 8% of customers agree. This can be attributed to the amount of channels introduced earlier that make it hard to be consistent. Consumers have evolved to access these channels whenever is most convenient to them, and if a negative consumer experience happens at any point, they might be lost. How can we fix this?
Know Your Audience
This may seem self explanatory, but knowing the audience that interacts with a business can branch off into many directions. Take a sports store for example, and how many different customers they might have. Not just the sports themselves such as golf, basketball, baseball, but the demographic as well. A 16-year-old kid who is about to start his recreational basketball team and needs new shoes could walk in along-side a 55 year old businessman who needs a new set of golf clubs. Segmenting and understanding audience is crucial to successful business. Each audience will have different needs, wants, and paths to purchase. Understanding this will help create a better overall consumer experience for everyone involved. At DMG + ThriveHive, we put ourselves in the shoes of a potential customer for any client we do business with. We ask ourselves a simple question: "What would I want to know if I was buying this certain product or service?" This is a great way to look at a business in a different perspective and generate ideas.
Consistency is the bedrock of a brand or business. Consumers should know and eventually expect certain experiences when interacting with a business, no matter the channel. Take this scenario from the same Forbes article: "The customer may reach out to a company for support over live chat. The next time it's on the phone. And the time after that, the customer uses instant message to connect with the company. Even though the interactions came across different channels, the person currently interacting with the customer must seem them as one long conversation." Customers have a wide variety of channels that they access whenever it is most convenient for them. No matter where the consumer might be along their journey, it needs to feel like one long arrow.
Path of Least Resistance
Customers are finicky, and roadblocks can come in the form of too much and too long. Too much information, too long to load, too many questions, too much noise, too long to hear back. It is important to streamline everything, and have whatever the customer needs easy to access. Something as small as number of categories on a form can heavily impact conversion. According to a study done by MarketingExperiments, short forms (5 fields) had the highest conversion of 13.4% compared to medium forms (7 fields) with a 12% conversion rate and long forms (9 fields) with a 10% conversion rate. This example illustrates the impact of highlighting what is only necessary to the consumer. If they want to know more information, they will seek it out.
The consumer experience makes or breaks a business. Shep Hyken, a Forbes contributor, summarizes this perfectly: "The company may define its brand promise, but it is the customer who decides whether or not the company delivered on its promise. There’s a lot riding on delivering a positive customer experience. You hire and train good people, but you must also give them the tools they need to deliver a [customer experience] that not only meets the customers’ expectations but makes them want to come back. Be there for them – no matter how they reach out to you – be consistent, and build your brand through satisfied customers."
Sources: Forbes article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2018/07/15/customer-experience-is-the-new-brand/#3cbdb4927f52; MarketingExperiments article (form fills): https://marketingexperiments.com/lead-generation/lead-generation-testing-form-field-length-reduces-cost-per-lead-by-10-66
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