The rules of competition are changing!
Customer experience is largely becoming a C-level strategic initiative for many companies in order to meet the changing expectations of customers and create new competitive advantage.
Customers are becoming more and more informed and empowered through the use of digital technology, which is profoundly affecting their expectations and influencing their buying decision.
Today’s market is full of outstanding products, which means your competitors can always beat you on price. It’s all about the customer experience your company delivers and how well your brand manages customer interaction. In a consumer-first world, an exceptional customer experience isn’t just nice to have, it’s a must!
Here are 3 reasons why customer experience is the only true brand differentiator:
1. Customer Experience Trumps Product
Don’t get me wrong, the product will always be important, but it shouldn’t be your only focus anymore. The market has changed dramatically in recent years and product innovation is no longer the only way to success. Instead, market leaders have recognized a different customer need – better customer experience – and innovated there, while still offering acceptable or market-leading products.
The key is finding opportunities for disruptive innovation in your industry. If your product is already one of the best on the market, product innovation might not help you drive sales. But if your customer experience is poor, you have the opportunity to improve and beat your competitors by changing the way your customers do business with your brand.
Focusing on improving online customer experience is a smart strategy as it directly impacts the online conversion rate and positively affects the business’ bottom line.
In other words, bad websites make less money.
Therefore, many organizations are spending far more on improving their online customer experience to connect with the audience and engage with them online, which consequently leads to more happy customers and more repeat business.
Here is how Nissan transformed its online visitors into active viewers, increased average time spent on their website and improved customer engagement during their new Nissan Micra launch.
2. Customer Experience Beats Price
How do customers choose between various similar products? What are their main criteria? Although price is the most obvious, cheap products often don’t offer economy to customers. We all know that price or cost is not the same as value.
Customers no longer research and compare just the product prices, but also the company and the customer experience they can expect. It comes as no surprise that customers are willing to pay more for a product to receive a better customer experience. Happy customers are willing to spend more and unhappy customers that have received poor experience are prepared to switch to a different brand – one that can offer them a better experience.
The companies that will thrive in this new environment will be the ones which are able to create the biggest value for their (busy) customers, by eliminating inconveniences associated with buying products online, by reinventing the customer experience outside the physical stores or even completely eliminating a trip to the physical store.
Customer value therefore lies in the customer experience your business can offer, not in the price of your products.
Another example of a brand that successfully approached digital transformation and significantly improved their customer experience is Vodafone Spain. They won a CRC Gold Special Award for Best Innovation Project from the AEERC (Spanish Association of Experts in Customer Relationship) for their virtual shop powered by Whisbi.
3. Customer Experience is the New Marketing
According to the EIU survey, many C-level executives now see an opportunity to form a stronger, deeper connection with the customer. They are aware of the fact that customer experience starts long before the customer buys anything, therefore they need to make sure they engage with the customer and help shape their buying decision early in the process.
Nowadays, customers want to interact with brands, communicate with them, ask questions and do research. Communicating with your customers means building a relationship. This is why one of the most important components of quality customer experience is the ease of interaction. Companies that are using technologies which help them achieve this are saving customers’ time and hence improving customer satisfaction.
An Economist Intelligence Unit research showed that C-level executives in all functions support the shift in the company’s strategy to get closer to the customers and improve customer experience. The CMO is the one most focused on the customer revolution, as the marketing function has traditionally been responsible for the customer experience.
But marketing now has the attention of the CEO – the authority to spend money in order to improve the connection with the customer and leverage the new digital channels and social media.
Companies are aware that the power lies ever more in the hands of the customers. They are their biggest advocates and can build awareness, drive sales and increase revenue. People trust friends and family more than any other information source and referred customers typically cost less to acquire and are less price sensitive. In fact, research from a leading word-of-mouth marketing company showed that a customer advocate is 50% more likely to influence a purchase decision than a regular customer.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”
Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon)
The point here is that a company that doesn’t focus on customer experience is not going to be in business for very long, because people still trust word-of-mouth more than other paid and unpaid marketing channels. Customers are seeking personalized interactions, so it is important for brands to connect with them in a new and engaging way, that goes beyond the usual (i.e. call centre).
Brands need to step up the game and provide outstanding customer experience throughout the entire customer journey and beyond. It’s time to start anticipating the future needs of your customers and focus on creating an experience that customers value. Have you started thinking strategically about the relationship your brand has with your customers?
The best way to connect with customers and encourage them to engage with your brand is the Whisbi One-to-many solution – a customer engagement platform for business. You brand can reach hundreds of consumers with just one presenter, 100% online. Announce launches, demonstrate products, present promotional offers, host open webinars and live events all while answering your audiences chat questions in real-time HD video seamlessly on your website.
Leave a comment here or tweet @Whisbi to talk more about how you can improve engagement and turn your customers into brand advocates and differentiate your brand from the competitors.