Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | 5 min read
A recent report by Econsultancy and IBM, The Consumer Conversation: The Experience Void between Brands and their Customers, takes a close look at the disparity between what brands think about the experiences they’re giving their customers and how those customers actually feel about these experiences. It offers some pretty sobering statistics:
Only one in three consumers believe that their favorite companies understand them.
Of those consumers who switched consumer services in the last year, most did so for reasons companies should be able to predict and prevent.
Of the nearly 50% of consumers with a service issue in the last 12 months, only 28% say that the company dealt with it very effectively.
So, there’s a big gap between marketers’ intentions and their customers’ satisfaction. As the report puts it, “brands’ belief in the strength of their customer experience doesn’t line up with their customers’ reality.” Companies know that customer experience management is important, but they’re still not getting it right. How come?
There are many elements that contribute to a brand falling short of creating remarkable experiences for its customers. We narrowed it down to three major factors.
Brands have never had more ways to gather detailed information about who their customers are – including age, gender, location, interests, professional background, interactions with the brand, online behavior, and so on – but most still fall short of maximizing the potential of all the available data.
The Consumer Conversation report shows that many brands do in fact collect this kind of data, but they don’t synthesize it in a way that allows them to deliver better customer experiences. They fail to tie it all together to create a complete picture of the consumer that is shared across all customer-facing departments within the company.
This means that consumers are mostly served irrelevant, untimely, non-personalized messaging.
Again, there’s a large disparity between the kinds of experiences brands think they’re providing customers and what these customers actually experience. 81% of companies surveyed report having achieved a “holistic” view or being well on their way, but only 22% of consumers report that average companies do a good job of personalizing their relationship. Interestingly, that number only rises to 37% when consumers describe their favorite companies.
Most customers are lost for reasons companies can control. Let that sink in a bit… Most customer churn can be avoided through smarter data mining and delivering the right customer experience at the right time.
Analytics tells businesses what’s important to customers and helps predict problems that are about to occur. The challenge is to turn that insight into action. Ideally, a brand’s analytics strategy should focus on boosting customer satisfaction long before the relationship has a chance to deteriorate. A strong predictive capability lets brands identify customers who may be vulnerable to competing offers or who may need special attenion to remain satisfied.
Of the approximately one-third of consumers surveyed who switched providers because of a provider failure, more than half cited a reason that falls under customer experience, including issues with customer service, in-store experience, site and app quality, loyalty programs, and communications.
Delivering remarkable customer experiences isn’t easy. As we’ve seen, it requires a holistic view of the customer built from data gathered across a variety of touchpoints. It also requires paying close attention to how customers feel about your product and swiftly delivering the right kind of (high-value) experience when a customer is at risk of churn.
This can’t be done without a cohesive platform that brings together data from key customer touchpoints – the opposite of siloed marketing clouds, which focus on single-channel core competencies and promote isolated data collection that stifles collaboration and cross-departmental communication. The future of customer experience lies in platforms that facilitate quickly pulling key information from any customer-facing department in order to create better experiences for the consumer.
As the customer/brand relationship becomes increasingly complex, omni-channel, and difficult to measure, companies grapple with some pretty big challenges that can make or break their future:
Ultimately, brands should aim to create customer experiences that find the sweet spot where both relevance and value are present. After all, just because something is relevant doesn’t mean it’s actually worth something to the customer, but brands that can consistently offer both are more likely to stand out in a highly-competitive space.
About the Author: Nick Patel is the Worldwide Market Segment Manager at IBM ExperienceOne. He blogs about all things related to marketing and technology, from exceptional leadership to product innovations to new-edge best practices.