When it comes to being competitive, improve the customer experience is a strategic factor. Positive customer experience depends on the quality of communication, relying on customer communication management tools capable of transforming any communication into an opportunity to provide a memorable experience.
What distinguishes a successful company from a less successful one? Once, we might have said it is the quality of the service or product offered, or maybe the values or personality that your brand can pass on to consumers, or perhaps a company’s ability to make attractive offers—in terms of price or quality—to customers. All of these responses could be correct. However, there is one element that truly has a decisive impact on the success of any company: improve customer experience.
While the relationship with customers has always played a critical role in business, digital transformation has elevated its importance.
Current research confirms this.
According to the “2019 Customer Experience Innovation survey” from Gartner, among 244 top managers from a variety of sectors and across seven countries in North America, Western Europe, and Asia, 75% said they had invested time and resources in the development and adoption of innovative technologies for improving the customer experience. They planned to increase these investments by 52% in 2019.
The same is true for Italian companies, which, according to the “Excellence in customer experience” report by KPMG, have surprisingly surpassed British companies in terms of the Customer Experience Excellence Score, the score given by KPMG to companies based on the satisfaction of six elements that drive improvements in customer relations. These are:
- Time and commitment.
While Italy is still far from the United States, it still has an average score of 7.10 (compared to 7.08 for Great Britain), thus placing it in the middle range, with some room for improvement. Beyond this, we must observe one thing: the importance of the customer experience is not a recent discovery. Some companies have long based their success on making customers happy.
To understand this, we’ll look at a couple of examples.
Customer experience: Apple and Nike
According to the aforementioned KPMG report, Apple tops the list of 100 companies in Italy who offer the best customer experience to their customers. For some time, Apple has adopted a very precise marketing strategy that focuses mainly on the Apple Store and the offer of a memorable customer experience. Apple Stores, are not just a shop where customers can make a purchase. Instead, they are places where customers can live a unique experience.
For some time now, the Cupertino-based company has been converting its stores into spaces open to the public where memorable activities can be carried out. For example, you can take part in music lessons, attend real concerts, participate in drawing and painting sessions with the iPad or photography lessons free of charge whether you own an Apple device or not. And of course there is no obligation to buy: the focus is no longer on the products but consumers and their interests, and the shop experience is designed to entertain them and improve the customers’ experience.
For our second example, we turn to Nike. Nike, like Apple, has long understood the importance of the customer experience and this is demonstrated by how the company began to transform its stores, moving from a “concept store” to an “interactive store”.
This means that the consumer, when he enters, must be able to receive a first-hand experience that also transmits the values that distinguish the brand.
For this reason, the point of sale must become something more: a space similar to a gym or sports center where you can try the product, customize it, and, why not, even play basketball with friends. Such events are the norm at the new Nike Store in New York, Nike Soho. The store offers a consumer experience that goes beyond the physical limits of the purchase. For example, on some floors, customers can jog on a treadmill surrounded by screens that reproduce natural contexts, such as Central Park. This allows users to try on shoes in a fully immersive running experience.
In this sense, the purchase of the product is only the last phase of a more articulated and complex customer journey that aims to make the brand known through relevant and memorable experiences. Therefore, when you decide to buy a pair of shoes, you will have the impression of actually buying the experience from the Nike Store.
The characteristics of a successful customer experience
These two examples, which relate to large-scale distribution, are relevant because they capture essential characteristics of an effective and quality customer experience, both in the physical world and in the digital one.
First of all, the customer experience must be engaging: the consumer no longer accepts playing a passive role in the relationship with the company. On the contrary, they are looking for a shopping experience in which they can actively intervene. In this sense, the forecast of the futurologist Alvin Toffler, who, imagining the future relationship between producer and consumer, coined the term prosumer. With this term, Toffler described today’s average consumer who wants to actively intervene in the production of a good or service, customizing it as much as possible.
The second characteristic of modern customer experience (physical or digital) is precisely this: personalization. There is lots of research that can confirm this trend. According to 2017 research from KPMG on a sample of 2,500 Italians, customers expect personalized experiences (offers, content, custom-made products, etc.) as well as transparent communication, efficient delivery, and immediate satisfaction. This is also confirmed by research from Accenture, who reported that a quarter of consumers expect companies to know more about them and for this reason (almost 40%) expect special treatment, designed exactly for them. Moreover, the desire to live a personalized customer experience is so strong in Italian customers that they are willing to give away part of their data to benefit from an experience tailored exactly to their needs.
The examples of Apple and Nike highlight another key feature for a successful customer experience, namely the integration of digital channels and physical channels, so as to make it possible for customers to start and finish their experience from the touchpoint of their choice. In other words, it is necessary to provide an omnichannel customer experience, which, among other things, allows the company to precisely profile its typical customer, thus improving audience targeting, and to develop specific marketing strategies, which intercept the customer with relevant content without geographical or temporal limits.
Finally, the last feature of winning customer experience is not to focus on the product, but on the customer. That’s why you’re not just buying something in an Apple or Nike store; the sale is a marginal part of the whole experience. What matters is providing the customer with a memorable experience in which he or she has a central role. The reason is very simple: the “customer-centric” approach not only has a positive impact in terms of consumer retention, but it also guarantees a high return on investment (ROI), as confirmed by Forrester or the exemplary case of Amazon.
From theory to practice: customer communication management within the company
All of this demonstrates that being relevant today requires companies to differentiate themselves, and the best way to do so is to improve the customer experience. In the daily life of a company, how do you achieve this result? Here, software and customer communication management platforms play a key role.
Adopting a CCM strategy is a fundamental step to be able to give the customer the experience he expects, one that has all four necessary characteristics. This means being:
This is confirmed by Forrester’s Craig Le Clair, who argues that the integration of CCM technologies within the customer journey is increasingly important and strategic thanks to innovations related to digital transformation, such as the increasing use of mobile devices, automation marketing, and the various digital platforms available. After all, CCM solutions allow the company’s communication to evolve, keeping it abreast of digital innovations, allowing the company to ride the main market trends.
At the same time, a CCM strategy ensures that this transformation is coordinated and sustainable, ensuring greater manageability of all communication content produced by the company and intended for various types of consumers.
An example of this is the rethinking of how documents are used.
From superfluous document to strategic touchpoint
If you think about it, the digital customer experience is in large part a document-based experience. Just think about how many business documents an average customer receives: newsletters, renewal proposals, upgrade offers, tax documents, invoices. The main risk is that these communications will go unnoticed or, even worse, that they will be perceived as useless and annoying. Yet this is paradoxical since these communications are “moments” when the company speaks directly to customers, an opportunity for it to present itself as reliable and to capture the customer’s interest in the products or the company itself.
A CCM platform can help companies exploit these moments to offer a memorable digital customer experience.
For example, you can create personalized marketing content depending on the type of user you need to reach, changing the message based on what action you want to stimulate (renewal, upgrade, etc.). Besides, the CCM platforms allow you to do so quickly and efficiently, ensuring a centralized and consistent management of all types of outbound communication. There are also significant advantages when it comes to one-to-one communications, which are generally used in a customer care context. In this case, CCM solutions allow you to communicate the answers in a timely and personalized way, providing the company, for example, a web portal where you can find a wide choice of easily adaptable templates and forms.
More advanced CCM providers can offer additional options to make communication more engaging, such as inserting mini-videos or micro-websites based on HTML5. In this way, the customer is reached by more engaging communication that provides content in a video format that is consistent with current consumer trends, since watching video takes up a third of the time the average user spends online browsing.
Reactivity, efficiency, personalization, and high engagement, but also an omnichannel approach (since an effective, centralized CCM strategy allows coordinated management of all content on all types of channels) are elements of a memorable customer experience and one that a CCM platform can help ensure.
A strong bond and necessary condition
For all these reasons, customer experience and customer communication management are linked. Forrester also came to the same conclusion in its 2016 report, which identified a close correlation between adoption of a sophisticated, personalized, and consistent CCM strategy and the increased quality of the customer experience offered by a company.
However, it should be stressed that there is a specific condition to achieve all this, namely, the careful selection of the CCM provider. In fact, despite the advantages, the implementation of CCM software within business processes is not immediate. On the contrary, it requires identifying the best professionals in the sector, who have comprehensive expertise, both in the implementation of such a platform and on the challenges of digital transformation in general.
Besides, it is important to choose an experienced provider that can meet the needs of your business with cutting-edge solutions and who provides maximum flexibility while easily adapting to compliance requirements.
Based on these characteristics, it is possible to select the right supplier, as Forrester did when it selected the 17 best global Customer Communication Management providers, including Doxee, who, due to its experience, innovative solutions, and unique product features, proved to be the perfect partner to build a winning customer experience and fully implement the digital transformation within each company.