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A recent report by Gartner outlined that by 2021, 81% of senior marketers expect to be competing mostly on the basis of customer experience. The importance of innovating the customer experience can not be underestimated.
While rapid innovation is critical to maintaining a competitive edge, the focus has been heavily placed on automated processes, data and marketing technologies to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Customer loyalty is driven by emotional response
Companies certainly shouldn’t stop investing in new technology, but technology is not a complete solution. Customer loyalty is driven by human nature which is less logical than technology! Humans make decisions based on their emotional response to an experience or brand.
This has been well documented in a 2017 report by Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman which discovered that 95% of our purchase decision making takes place subconsciously (aka System 1 thinking which is non logical and emotionally driven).
A recent report by contact centre specialists Calabrio confirms this with its findings that customer loyalty is generated when customers feel heard and have an emotional attachment to the brand—and that is best created with human connection where possible.
Most web usability studies also confirm that people are most interested in people as well!
Faced with many brand choices, customers expect the products that they buy to be good quality. The differentiator is often the emotional connection (which the brand creates) and the experience that the customer has with that brand.
Customer insight can help craft empathetic customer experiences
Brands that succeed will develop strong customer insight to build rich portraits of how customers think, feel and behave. Translating those insights into empathetic customer experiences that help customers get the job done better, faster, cheaper and more delightfully than the competition will win their loyalty. Calabrio’s study discovered that:
- 79% percent of customers believe interacting with a human versus a chatbot or other digital self-service channel is a sign of good customer service.
- 76% think that technology helps create a good customer experience. But they don’t care unless they see the benefit.
- 48% of respondents only think innovation is important if it improves customer service.
Tuning into customer’s needs to win their loyalty
- Audit the customer experience tech stack: In the race to innovate and operationalise elements of the customer experience and other routine functions, companies often acquire additional technologies and end up operating on a patch-work of technologies that are not fully used and are poorly integrated. By performing a complete audit, organisations can better leverage existing technologies and can engineer a comprehensive tech stack that takes a customer-first approach, enabling them to hear what customers are saying.
- Tap into the conversation: From phone conversations to email messages, every interaction with customers is important. By analysing those conversations, companies are able to understand the sentiment of their customers and surface subtle nuances in how they can improve the overall customer experience. Customer conversations are very simply the strongest source of customer insight that any organisation will have. With speech and text sentiment analysis connected into e-mails, text chat and voice calls, companies can turn unstructured voice data into actionable insights and gain a full view of their customers.
- Focus on people: Customers matter and the biggest factor that will impact their perception of the brand will be the treatment that they receive from customer service and customer facing staff. Keeping customer-facing staff moral high translates directly into customer loyalty and business performance.