Technology is now virtually accessible to all and has handed customers unprecedented power. They now dictate the rules in interacting with the brands they buy from.
And as digitalisation disrupts more businesses, those customers are increasingly seeking out the immediacy, personalisation and convenience of seamless digital customer experiences.
Unfortunately, consumers who have become accustomed to the ease of dealing with digital natives such as Google and Amazon now expect the same kind of service from other established players, and often smaller players.
Where companies once could differentiate themselves by product or quality, the key differentiator today increasingly lies in creating an engaging, frictionless customer experience.
The changes we’ve all been forced to make in the wake of the coronavirus only speaks to how rapidly the landscape of customer experience is evolving, and how intensely business leaders are focused on it.
There is no question — customer experience is being redefined.
Before the explosion of the information age, customers could only interact with a company through direct lines of communication. A phone call, an email, or even physically showing up—imagine customers today putting up with that!
This was the extent of customer experiences and it typically happened one customer at a time, with a limited set of company representatives interacting with customers (customer service, sales, etc.).
While these one-to-to customer experiences may be more personal, they are also time consuming and can’t be scaled to meet the immediacy demanded by modern consumers.
The next evolution of customer experience took the form of Customer To Content, heavily influenced by:
· Customers educating themselves online before making any purchase.
· Customer demand for online self-service support.
· The ease and speed of content creation and maintenance.
By going to your website, opening an email, or watching your video, customers are demonstrating their engagement by interacting with your content.
Most companies, including you, will likely be at this stage. Although more advanced companies have also leveraged automated channels such as chatbots, and self-service channels such as knowledge bases.
This is a huge set forward for many companies, but it’s lacking something modern customers are valuing more than ever—meaning and connection.
The final evolution of customer experience involves customers having a meaningful relationship within your entire brand’s ecosystem. This includes:
Customers talking to other customers
Customers connecting to your brands purpose
Customers being collaborative and providing product feedback
There are several ways to invite your customers in and close the distance between them and your brand, though many companies start by creating a branded online community.
With a customer community, companies can begin to meet growing expectations around meaningful connection. It gives them a space to talk to like-minded people, to share their passions, and connect on a much deeper level.
In a way, community members become partners, and this is what consumers today want to feel, especially when they resonant with the purpose of the brand.
And based on the interactions between community members, companies can develop a deeper understanding of what customers might expect from products and services five years down the road.
This is how you get ahead of evolving customer needs.
Most brands today will find themselves relying on Customer To Content for their customer experience. If that’s you and you’ve invested heavily in content creation, fear not.
The best part about evolving your customer experience is that it builds on and supports what’s come before. Rather than replacing one type of interaction, the ideal customer experience strategy adapts to the needs of each individual.
However, by not evolving your customer experience to leverage the power of Customer To Community, you’re missing out on an opportunity to create stronger bonds between you and the customer, and between customers themselves.