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Marketers Must Focus on Customer Experience

Marketers Must Focus on Customer Experience

Business analysts continue to cite customer experience as the next competitive battleground of the modern enterprise, changing the way companies approach all consumer-facing operations. From sales to customer service, a focus on experience is all-encompassing, and this means that marketing is also included in the mix. Still, marketers are striving to figure out what makes for an exceptional experience, especially when targeting prospective customers and building loyalty.

“Marketers must focus on creating an emotional response.”

As Daniel Newman stated in a recent article for Forbes, the future of marketing will be influenced thoroughly by the idea of customer experience, and brands need to understand the concepts behind this trend in order to get ahead of their competitors. Here are a few of the major ways in which the modern focus on customer experience is impacting marketing efforts, and some tips on how marketers can turn these ideas into profitable initiatives.

Understanding expectations
Customer perceptions, preferences and standards all play into the importance of the brand experience, and marketers must account for all of these factors as they develop the ideal campaign for today’s audiences. Newman explained in his Forbes piece that consumers now equate their experience with a company as the brand itself – an emotional response rather than a logical one. Elements such as service, website navigability and in-store ambiance are all critical.

From a marketing standpoint, this means that messaging on its own no longer carries the weight it once did. Now communications must inspire a feeling that can’t be found elsewhere. This is where methods such as personalization, triggered events and follow-up messages become more important, and why automation tools are proving essential for a competitive edge.

Preparing for damage control
While marketers should always strive to focus on the positive aspects of communication, modern organizations must also contend with negative press directly from the mouths – or keyboards – of the customers themselves. E-commerce brands face unfavorable reviews on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, while brick-and-mortar establishments have to deal with angry customers on Yelp or Google Reviews.

“Today it’s commonplace for an angry customer to spew venom on the Internet after a bad experience, whether through their Facebook status, or posts on the brand’s Facebook page, a tweet, review, or forum thread,” stated Newman in Forbes. “This can spell disaster for a brand’s image.”

This means that marketers need to step up their efforts for monitoring these platforms and ensuring that the reputation of the brand is preserved. Responding to unhappy reviewers can make all the difference, even if it is a simple apology. Better yet, a company will solve the issue at hand and may prevent a customer from spreading more negativity across the Web.

Appointing a strategic leader
While marketers are generally adaptive in their strategies, technologies and communications, establishing an authority figure for any new initiative is always a smart move, especially with an idea as nebulous as customer experience. An article from CMO contributor Jeff Pundyk pointed to Economist Intelligence Unit research stating that more than half of companies look to the C-suite to lead customer experience programs.

Furthermore, 50 percent of companies will be boosting customer experience investments by more than 10 percent in the next three years, the source reported. With so much money being funneled into these efforts, it’s even more important for businesses to appoint a director who will make the best possible decisions for the organization. Ideally, the CMO will be involved to help strengthen customer experience throughout its communications both inbound and outbound, using automation tools when necessary.