Recent research from Gartner shows that 89% of companies compete primarily on customer experience. The way your brand makes customers feel can mean the difference between advocating for the brand or going with a competitor.
So, who owns customer experience?
It’s not just the customer service team or the Chief Experience Officer or any other dedicated department. Every touch point with a customer or potential customer is an opportunity to enhance the experience. It’s everyone’s responsibility.
As customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author Blake Morgan puts it:
“Today, companies are thinking about customer experience in everything they do, from hiring and leadership development to marketing, supply chain, logistics, IT infrastructure, product design and continuous improvement for the entire business.”
Customers don’t distinguish between the marketing department, the customer service team, or the sales department. Any contact they make with the brand, on any channel, is part of their experience of the brand as a whole.
So, it’s crucial for marketers to be mindful of customer experience, and active in helping improve it wherever we might encounter current and potential customers. Here’s how to get started.
Every touch point with a customer or potential customer is an opportunity to enhance the #customerexperience. It’s everyone’s responsibility. – @NiteWrites says to #marketers everywhere Click To Tweet
How Marketers Can Get Started on Improving the Customer Experience
Rethink the Customer Journey
Most marketers still think about buying in some version of the old marketing funnel. We invite people into the top of the funnel, nurture them through the middle to a purchase decision, and then… well, they drop off the chart.
For marketers to make a difference in customer experience, we need to think differently about past, current, and potential customers. Julia McCoy’s “Marketing Lifecycle” is a good place to start:
In this model, everyone’s on the same journey. Whether they’re current, potential, or past customers, they all need and can benefit from marketers’ attention. Marketers can engage at every stage, helping to reduce friction and provide relevant, personalized content. That not only improves customer experience, it helps move more people toward sales, repeat sales, and advocacy.
Refine Your Content Strategy
To better align your content to improve customer experience, it’s important to re-evaluate what your content is for. Are you still drafting content for a linear customer journey?
Co-Founder of Orbit Media Andy Crestodina recently wrote an eye-opening post about the content strategy of the top 1% of B2B companies. According to Andy, content is far more about providing value than creating a straight line through to the “contact us” page. More valuable content earns trust, earns repeat visitors, and earns back-links that boost your SEO ranking.
How can you make content more valuable? Write for your current prospects, Andy says:
“The best source for content ideas is the audience themselves. When you talk to prospects and customers, you learn their cares, hopes and worries. You find out what kind of questions they have. It’s the job of your content to answer those questions.”
When you create best-answer content, you’re investing in your brand’s search visibility, its reputation, and its future and current customers. Someone who searches for an answer, finds your brand’s content, and gets help is likely to remember that positive experience.
Create Content for the Customer
How often do you write blog posts aimed at your current customers? Content aimed at helping use your product more efficiently, or addressing customer concerns and pain points with the product?
It’s easy to write about your current customers when you’re writing a success story in a case study. But writing for your customers is a crucial way marketers can improve the customer experience. Show customers that you care about their concerns after the sale, that your brand is committed to helping them succeed. As the inimitable Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, puts it:
“Make the customer the hero of your story.”
This type of content is good for customer experience, and it’s also good for marketing to potential customers. As you demonstrate to existing that you’re committed to helping your customers, your prospects are watching, too. You’re demonstrating what they can expect from the brand should they choose to buy.
Create a Consistent Experience on Social Media
Most brands are in a weird place with social media, and it’s easy to see why: It is a marketing channel and a customer service channel rolled into one. It’s a channel where causal followers, brand advocates, and customers with problems they need solved are all rubbing (virtual) elbows. Yet social media accounts are far more likely to be considered solely marketing’s responsibility.
Marketers can enhance the customer experience on social media by responding quickly to questions and starting the conversation. Then marketers can help meet needs that they can meet, or provide a quick and seamless hand-off when another department has to be involved.
Remember, customers don’t think in terms of “this is the marketing department and I should contact customer service.” They’re just reaching out with a problem your brand needs to solve.
Great Customer Experience Is Great Marketing
When marketers fully own their contribution to customer experience, they can help turn prospects into customers and customers into raving fans. It’s the great circle of marketing (sing it with me): Your most loyal customers become your most powerful marketing, and they do it for free. Or, as customer service expert, keynote speaker, and bestselling author Shep Hyken puts it:
“The best advertising you can have is a loyal customer spreading the word about how incredible your business is.”
So, marketers, it’s time to dig deep and ask yourself: What am I doing on a marketing level to enhance the customer experience? And what do I need to be doing?
Learn more about customer experience, convenience, and marketing in our interview with Shep Hyken.