Although it may not seem like the most ground-breaking concept in identity-driven marketing - and in fact it could be perceived as fairly obvious - the importance and value of consistency in customer experiences and brand communications can't be overstated, according to Russell Loarridge of Janrain, who here explains how consistency directly impacts customer satisfaction and can mean the difference between a customer becoming a loyal advocate or abandoning your product or service altogether.
A survey of American consumers across 14 industries found that in the case of the customer journey, the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts: measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than just measuring satisfaction with each interaction.
Focusing on improving the end-to-end journey pays off. Making sure customers are happy every step of the way-the whole way-can increase overall satisfaction by 20% and lift revenue by as much as 15%, while also reducing the cost of customer service up to 20% according to the same survey. Consistency also helps build customer trust, improving retention and driving higher customer value over the duration of the relationship.
From brand promises, to product quality, to customer service calls-customers expect the companies and brands they have a relationship with to deliver against established benchmarks each time they interact.
When it comes to digital channels, the same expectations hold. If a customer registers on your website, providing key identity details like name, email address and postcode, she'll expect you to remember that information the next time she logs in to your site-and most likely, she won't expect to need to provide it to you again, even if she comes through a different channel like a mobile app or campaign microsite. When companies lack a central notion of customer identity, each channel and system creates a new identity. When identities are siloed, companies altogether lack the ability to plan, optimise and measure the customer journey across devices, channels and systems.
The key to building a consistent customer journey lies in leveraging the data you already have about your customers. It's not unlike segmentation-customers expect the next interaction to be informed by every previous interaction, and for a company's understanding of their wants and needs to grow over time as more interactions occur.
One obvious application is customer service: ensuring that all relevant customer information is stored in a central customer profile that's accessible by every area of the organisation can help speed time to resolution and create the positive impression that the company not only knows who they are, but understands and cares about their value as a customer.
Consistency should extend beyond the customer service interaction or purchase event, however, to include every customer touch point. Change happens, but transparency is paramount: if a company decides to overhaul a digital experience by removing tools and features that customers previously relied on, or revise important terms of the relationship, like a billing schedule or return policy, prompt notification and response to customer questions are critical. Otherwise, customers may feel unimportant or alienated, and ultimately defect.
The same goes for brand identity-consumers generally choose to transact with companies that provide value in exchange for their cash, but also prefer brands that align with their values and beliefs.
"Ensuring that messaging, promotions, advertising and sponsorships consistently reflect the brand identity that your customers have come to know and trust not only builds credibility, but loyalty and advocacy as well," concluded Loarridge.