Describing Customer Experience (or CX) can leave many entrepreneurs with a “deer-caught-in-headlights” expression. Since CX goes beyond the expanse of more popular marketing approaches, small business owners don’t quite understand why a marketer, like myself, would want to put my hands in the “operations” cookie jar by observing how they interact with their customers. After all, what do I know about running their business? Yet, it’s important to note that while small businesses account for 99.7% of all U.S. businesses (defined by the SBA as typically having less than 500 employees), only 2/3rd of them survive beyond their first two years, 50% survive beyond five years and 1/3rd survive 10 years or more. So, any strategy that could help them succeed, especially in the eyes of their customers, should be open for consideration.
Today, marketing has evolved beyond the confines of social media, content, advertising and lead conversion. We now approach everything from the customer vantage point. Marketing is more than just determining who your audience is, communicating your unique value proposition, or helping to close the deal. The last time I checked, there was a customer (or potential customer) at every stage of the process. Truly knowing them and how your company can solve their problem is vital to the business. Just as important, however, is the ability to identify what your customer’s experience is with your company from the moment they learn about your brand to their eventual purchase and beyond. In fact, 87% of customers believe that brands should put added effort into providing a more consistent customer experience. Therefore, businesses should be asking themselves the following questions:
- From the initial discovery of our brand, do our customer clearly see a path to purchase or do they get frustrated and fall off?
- Are we making it as easy as possible for our customers to find us, communicate with us, and shop with us?
- Do our customer believe we understand and value them, or do they believe we are more interested in making a sale?
Here are five areas small businesses can invest in to include customer experience in their overall business strategy:
With data insights provided by the latest technology, including artificial intelligence, many traditional marketing techniques are no longer effective. A highly competitive online market for consumer attention means that just one version of an email, ad, post or landing page won’t engage every customer or address their specific needs. By “segmenting” your customers, you can truly comprehend who they are, what they need and how your product impacts the way they live. You can tailor your marketing communications, such as email, to address a specific problem they have that your company is able to solve. A good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help you achieve this.
Why this is important:
Email marketing segmentation is especially effective, with segmented campaigns getting 101% higher click-throughs than non-segmented campaigns. By knowing a consumer’s precise wants and needs, you can allocate marketing dollars more wisely by targeting those segments that are most likely to convert into customers.
Customer Journey Mapping
Armed with segment-specific information, you can now break down every interaction or “touch point” your company has with each consumer, analyzing how positive or negative these interactions are through “journey mapping”, a process that provides detailed information about your interactions with your customers. Looking like a rollercoaster ride on paper, a journey map illustrates high and low points customers experience throughout their voyage. Visually, this offers insights that you can then use to effect changes, making the highs higher and eliminating or lifting the lows.
Why this is important:
According to research done by McKinsey and Company, businesses that take a journey-based approach can increase customer satisfaction by 20%, lower costs of serving customers by 20% and increase revenue by 15%.
Knowing your customers, as well as what they need along their journey now gives you information that can be used to deliver stage-appropriate content, which keeps them moving through the “marketing funnel” – particularly via email. For example, a potential buyer that needs reassurance about the quality of your product would benefit from reading testimonials from other customers. Recognizing this customer’s needs can then help you plan the timing of stage-appropriate communications.
Why this is important:
By 2020, 51% of consumers want businesses to foresee what they need and make appropriate recommendations before they contact them. Not to mention, email is still one of the most powerful marketing tools, with a 4x higher return than other marketing strategies. However, when those emails are personalized, they deliver 6x higher transaction rates.
These days, businesses must meet consumers in their preferred platform with appropriate communications to make their journey as seamless as possible. Will the price online be the same as in-store? Is this product as easy to buy on their phones as it is on their desktops? Can they purchase online and pick-up in-store? These are all questions that should be explored to make their experience both easy and uniform.
Why this is important:
In a study published in the Harvard Business Reviewof 46,000 shoppers, omnichannel customers were found to be more valuable because they spend 4% more in-store and 10% more online than customers who only use one channel. Also, consumers today have higher expectations of brands, with 75% of them wanting a consistent experience across all channels (i.e. website, social media, in person or mobile). If that can’t be provided, competitors will take advantage of channel weaknesses and lure customers away.
While small businesses may think they can’t afford to spend money on analytics, a smaller budget means it’s even more imperative for them to get a return on their investment. The valuable data gathered through analytics empowers owners to make smarter choices when it comes to marketing spend. What’s more, there are free or low-cost analytics tools and apps that won’t break the bank. For example, with a Google account and a website, anyone can set up and use Google Analytics for free, which provides detailed information on how people interact with websites. Additionally, many social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube provide free information on the performance of posts, which can help determine what content customers engage with most, so you can deliver more of what they want.
Why this is important:
Companies that use incorrect or outdated data to make decisions see a 34% lower conversion rate. When you measure the performance of your efforts correctly, you can use data to make informed decisions and invest in marketing strategies that have proven to be effective. After all, if you can’t measure how your marketing efforts are doing, you can’t make improvements.
No matter their size, soon all companies – big and small – will be competing on their customer experience alone, so small businesses stand to gain tremendous advantages over their competitors if they invest the time and money to make CX improvements now. In the end, allowing marketers to dip into the “operations” cookie jar and implement Customer Experience strategies could be the difference between those businesses that survive and those that don’t.
Check out more blog articles here!
17 Statistics Every Business Owner Needs to be Well Aware of – https://www.fundera.com/blog/small-business-statistics
Effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats – https://mailchimp.com/resources/research/effects-of-list-segmentation-on-email-marketing-stats/
Email Marketing Statistics to Guide your Email Strategy in 2018 – https://emailmonks.com/blog/email-marketing/email-marketing-statistics/
The three C’s of Customer Satisfaction: Consistency, consistency, consistency – https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-three-cs-of-customer-satisfaction-consistency-consistency-consistency
15 Mind-Blowing Stats About Personalization – http://www.cmo.com/features/articles/2015/2/18/mind-blowing-stats-personalization.html#gs.fPortRU
Please Take My Data: Why Consumers Want More Personalized Marketing – https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/12/consumers-want-more-personalized-marketing.html
A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Show that Omnichannel Retailing Works – https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works
14 Customer Experience Stats That Just Might Blow Your Mind – https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2017/05/14-retail-customer-experience-stats.html
18 Stats about Marketing Analytics That Will Make You Nervous – https://blog.invoca.com/18-stats-about-marketing-analytics-that-will-make-you-nervous/