Editor’s Note: This article is written by Christopher Sandstrom, Director of Strategy & Growth Americas, Comarch. Christopher is responsible for the growth and success of Comarch’s products and services in the North American market. He is passionate about optimizing business operations and recognizes the value in providing brands with the tools they need to grow their business.
The topic of Customer Experience will be explored further during a live webinar on December 14th to discuss how to create a top-shelf customer experience and build long-lasting relationships with your customers. You’ll have the chance to hear from loyalty experts at Ford, Politecnico di Milano and Comarch. Background for the discussion will draw upon A report* authored 5 July 2022 by Gartner® analyst Michael Chiu, latest research published by Politecnico di Milano on the Omnichannel Customer Experience, research studies from The Wise Marketer, and Comarch client success stories. Click here to register!
Creating Impactful, Measurable, Profitable Customer Experiences - the key to success in Customer Loyalty
Customer expectations are on the rise. Consumers are setting expectations based on their interactions with the highest performing retailers. As an example, what Amazon does for its customers through Amazon Prime has become the standard, unfairly or not, by which customers evaluate other eCommerce offers.
In turn, the steps marketers take to build Customer Loyalty are evolving quickly. There is a recognition that brands need to connect with prospective customers well ahead of the time they visit a website or make a purchase. Some are even convinced to invest in the customer well before a purchase is made. That radical idea was, until recently, deemed to be in conflict with achieving adequate return on marketing investment. Now brands have a better understanding that they must invest ahead of the transaction to break through the digital noise that deafens customer attention.
The totality of efforts to build awareness for the brand as well as their products and services falls under the umbrella of Customer Engagement (CE). We’ve learned through research and interactions with clients that Customer Engagement is a necessary predecessor of Customer Loyalty. In almost every circumstance, a loyal customer population is highly engaged, while an engaged group is not always what you would define as loyal. Engagement is the accelerant for loyalty.
But can you identify the foundation for effective Customer Engagement? We believe it is squarely vested in delivering a universal (omni-channel) Customer Experience (CX) that makes possible a consistent brand experience at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Imagine a pyramid shape with three levels. Customer Experience serves as the foundation of the structure and must be well-established to support tactics that create Customer Engagement. Consistency of CX and effective CE are the only path to building a portfolio of loyal customers. Even the brands which present a blinding attraction to customers, Apple, Formula One, Patagonia, and Red Bull come to mind, must deliver near flawless CX, or meet with attrition over time.
What are the key components of a top-shelf Customer Experience that loyalty program and executive decision-makers should consider? Is there a construct that can be emulated to predict successful engagement campaigns?
The pillars on which to build center on people, processes, technology, and data. These elements must be meshed to create a harmony that resonates with the customer, regardless of where that customer interacts with the business. Achieving this tall task requires cooperation from executives across the organization who share a vision for customer centricity.
Creating impactful, measurable, and profitable Customer Experiences is so vital to succeeding in the digital age that you might simplify the concept and call it table stakes. How could something so complex to execute organizationally be considered table stakes? In this case, mastery of a strong foundation may make the execution of engagement campaigns and conversion to loyal customers seem almost natural.
The challenge to creating consistent and enduring CX is in the details of aligning technology, operations, and resources into a working ecosystem. Brands must adopt a cross-functional, omni-channel approach to delivering CX to be successful.
The effort required to create a fully aligned customer-centric and data-driven strategy to enable stellar customer experience can equate to a multi-year timeline. Fortunately, the benefits from this process can produce a competitive difference that sets one retailer apart from another.
People expect to be recognized regardless of the channel they engage. They expect a cheerful welcome and offers that reflect their past patronage, interests, and value to the business. People want to be understood, and customer journeys should be mapped carefully to understand critical touchpoints and the technology needed to close gaps. Do this well and the “disconnected brand experience” never occurs.
Brands today should consider augmenting their teams with skills sets that bring high proficiency in customer journey mapping and design of user interface and user experience. Capable programs like Comarch’s Loyalty Management Platform can collate information from diverse sources and blend it all together for the benefit of the customer, are worthy of investment. With the right IT tools, building and managing a loyalty program is made simple. It is worth noting that gaining a 360 view of the customer is less important today than executing well on a concise number of data points across every communications channel in the business.
To create impactful and profitable CX, you should first review the status of the four pillars in your business, then seek to establish a cross-functional team to build out the approach that fits your business. From there, CE campaigns can be tested and measured. If done successfully, creating Customer Loyalty will become an outcome of solid strategy rather than a strenuous goal to be achieved.
This topic will be explored further during a live webinar next month. Join us on December 14th to discuss how to create a top-shelf customer experience and build long-lasting relationships with your customers. This open forum panel will draw from multiple perspectives to frame what it takes to create a stellar customer experience. You’ll have the chance to hear from loyalty experts at Ford, Politecnico di Milano and Comarch. Background for the discussion will draw upon A report* authored 5 July 2022 by Gartner® analyst Michael Chiu, latest research published by Politecnico di Milano on the Omnichannel Customer Experience, research studies from The Wise Marketer, and Comarch client success stories. Click here to register!
*Gartner, “Quick Answer: What Are the Top 10 Customer Experience Metrics?” Published 5 July 2022.
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.