The entire organization must be aligned to fully execute a successful customer experience. That’s because every interaction — every single touchpoint — has to be carefully considered. This does not mean your communication with customers should be calculated and robotic. Far from it. It simply means that every touchpoint is a crucial part of your customers’ impression of your brand. Steps must be taken to ensure the customer has a positive experience at each one.
Should marketing own CX?
Though the whole customer journey has to be taken into account, marketing has, perhaps, the most critical role in creating a thoroughly successful brand and customer experience.
Marketing knows the customer: they have the data to identify common behaviors, they understand what customers like, don’t like, what drives purchases, what turns customers away, and they know customer sentiment. In other words, marketing has the best idea why customers are making the decisions they’re making or why they feel the way they do.
All this leads to the inevitable: Marketing is poised to take on the role of customer experience ownership. Does this mean marketing is expected to execute all touchpoints throughout the journey? Of course not. There are reasons different departments exist. But only with a united, centralized approach to the customer experience can the journey be entirely positive. Marketing’s role is that of the ringleader. Marketers must manage the journey if only because there’s no one better to do the job, and the job must be done.
Personalization, ease and speed (according to this Walker study) are three key elements that make up a successful customer experience. The better each of these qualities is at removing friction from the customer journey, the better the overall experience will be. Customer-centric personalization, ease and speed can be applied at every stage of the customer journey. And, though not every touchpoint is executed by the marketing department, every touchpoint should be informed by marketing’s knowledge of the customer. Here are some key points in the customer journey and how marketing can play a role in making the experience personal, easy and fast.
Top of funnel
First impressions matter. It’s part of marketing’s job to ensure that they are both intentional and positive. The best way to do this at the top of the funnel is to make yourself available.
Let people reach out as early as possible. 78 percent of prosumers (consumers who can impact your brand through influence or word of mouth) want to easily connect with a human, even when there’s no physical store. Think of the in-store experience. An associate might come up to you as soon as you walk in and ask you how they can help or what you might be looking for or tell you about the deals that day. This type of shopping help is what consumers are looking for through online channels. Seventy-six percent of prosumers and 56 percent of mainstream consumers say they are looking for personalized shopping advice, helpful suggestions and assistance with their decisions when they’re visiting a website. In other words, they want customer experience that feels like brand experience, going above and beyond long before they’re ready to make a purchase.
So, if this is what customers expect, what are some ways to give the best first impression at the top of the funnel? It’s critical to have a live chat option on your website, displayed prominently on all pages, not just your homepage. When someone has a question about your products, needs advice on a purchase or wants to know if there’s a deal to be had, your live chat should be available wherever they need help. Live chat satisfies the growing customer desire to speak with a real person instead of a bot. You can use templated messages to help answer basic questions, but personal contact with shoppers on your site will help deliver a top-notch customer experience from the get-go.
Cann, creator of the first cannabis-infused social tonic, used a unique branded character called Ms. Lemon Lavender — named for two popular tonic flavors — to help engage their audience through live chat. Messages were sent from the team in the persona of Ms. Lavender and delivered a fun, branded experience that customers looked forward to. Thanks in part to this creative live chat strategy, the brand’s targeted messages and their team’s quick responses, Cann doubled its repurchase rates on its most popular platform.
Bottom of funnel
Marketing is also responsible for generating and nurturing leads and other bottom of the funnel responsibilities. These are the touchpoints that often make or break long-term customer relationships since they’re so close to the point of purchase. The bottom of the funnel is where you want to make sure you’re offering real value in exchange for contact information or any other data you collect. Often, exclusive discounts or highly targeted content can serve this purpose well.
“While it helps us know a lot about them, data should be used to improve their experiences first and foremost,” writes Stephanie Nerlich in a Think with Google post. Your role as a marketer at this point is to build trust with leads and deliver value to help improve their lives in some way.
Most leads aren’t going to convert to paying customers immediately after you collect their contact information. They may need more convincing, time, incentive — or a little of everything — to make a purchase. With lead nurturing, you can deliver valuable content to your leads — content like case studies, checklists, how-to articles, helpful videos and thought leadership pieces work well for this. By using what you know about your leads, you can create content that’s both highly targeted and improves their lives in some tangible way. Content that achieves this is both a reward and incentive. It should add real value, and not just serve as another sales pitch, if you want customers who trust your company and rely on your expertise.
In some ways, it’s important to recognize the marketing funnel as a guide to discover the touchpoints that impact customer experience. However, the customer experience does not end with a purchase, not anymore. The entire lifecycle of a customer must be taken into account to get the most value from a customer. If done right, a lifecycle-based customer experience is the best way not only to encourage repeat purchases and upgrades, but also to create true brand advocates out of your customers. Ongoing relationships that customers continue to enjoy are the most valuable of all.
One of the best ways to engage customers after purchase is to reward their loyalty with personalized special offers. DSW is a brand that offers such personalized offers to loyal customers. Members of the shoe company’s loyalty program receive highly targeted emails detailing current exclusive deals, their rewards points totals and a look at their points totals and overall savings they’ve earned through the DSW loyalty program. It’s incentives like these that reward customers with personalization and deals just for them, and it keeps them coming back.
Aside from special offers and deals for loyal customers, marketing is tasked with overseeing the rest of the customer lifecycle and ensuring all touchpoints are positive. That means there are some functions, such as customer service, that traditionally haven’t fallen under the purview of marketing that need to be informed by a marketing-driven customer experience.
Negative experiences have four to five times more impact than positive ones, and too many of those experiences are with customer service. It’s estimated that American companies lose roughly $75 billion every year due to poor customer service. Tuck customer service into the customer experience fold, and your approach to this touchpoint will pivot to ensure the customer is happy.
Bring in your customer support team to train them on critical brand messaging, and make sure they’re well aware of your brand’s personality so they can make a consistent, authentic and helpful impression on the people they contact. Beauty brand Glossier has become known for doing just this with its outstanding customer service. At Glossier, the customer service team is dubbed the gTeam and consists of editors (not reps) who pass on their own personal experiences, personalities and recommendations to customers who get in touch through various channels, from social media to phone.
Arming your customer service team with real-time tools like text messaging and live chat also help remove friction from this part of the customer journey. Customers want to speak with a real person, and they’re looking for help immediately, not in 24 hours. A marketing mindset, flexibility to meet your customers where they are and the right tech can improve your customers’ CS experience.