By Daniel Newman @Forbes | Oct 13, 2015
As someone who works in the trenches with brands across the business landscape, I can confidently say that nearly every time I speak with clients, partners, colleagues, and industry peers, a debate about “the future of marketing” occurs. However, even if you’re not knee deep in marketing, a quick Google search would reveal to you that emerging marketing trends and predictions are seriously hot topics.
And while yes, “the future of marketing” is something we should all be thinking about, there are many marketing practices “from the past” that are still vital to delivering exceptional customer service – and the overall customer experience is one of them. Why is that? Even though we may concentrate on big data, mobile, social, or content being the future of marketing, if you really think about it, all of these elements are only important in how they help us to enhance customers’ experiences with our brands.
In this era where the customer is king, every aspect of business—from strategies and processes to organizational structure and culture—is currently being remodeled to fit a customer-centric frame. Yet, most marketers get so caught up in vanity metrics that they fail to really listen to their customers. This is a huge mistake because ultimately business success depends on how you treat your customers, especially now when they are in the driver’s seat. Where customers want to spend their money is no longer influenced by brand messages, but rather by the experiences they get from brands.
The signs are pretty straightforward—the future, the metaphorical keys to the kingdom, will belong to those brands that create the most awesome customer experiences. And here’s why:
Customers equate brands with experiences. From customer service to the digital journey to retail ambiance, our association with a brand is based on how it makes us feel. For example, Apple users stick with the brand despite the products costing three times more than other similar products. That’s because Apple values the customer experience and people respond accordingly. They are willing to pay a premium for great customer service and an excellent retail experience. Similarly, going to our favorite clothing retailer connects with us in a unique way. Just think about why when we go to Target for just one thing, we can’t seem to bring ourselves to leave the store, yet we can’t get out of Kmart fast enough.
Customers are more demanding than ever. Marketing research has discovered that it takes 12 positive experiences to repair the damage caused by a single unresolved negative one. In today’s competitive business environment, even one negative experience is enough to lose a customer forever because people now are less tolerant toward poor encounters than ever before.
Bad customer reviews spread like wildfire. People are unlikely to forget a bad customer experience. An interesting statistic that illustrates this it that Americans tend to mention a good brand experience to an average of nine people, but will talk about a bad one to 16 people. However, keep in mind another important caveat. The only thing worse than a bad customer experience is an average, lackluster one, because I can guarantee you, no one will remember those.
Angry customers can damage your brand name. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hammered home the point when he said, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” 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. This can spell disaster for a brand’s image. Once the words are out there on the Internet, they can’t be unseen.
With customers seeking personalized interactions with their favorite brands, it’s important for companies to connect with them in a way that goes way deeper than the usual ‘brand-consumer’ relationship. To that end, brands need to serve up nothing short of stellar customer experiences throughout the purchase journey and even beyond.
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