How to Create a Seamless Customer Experience

4/25/2024 Scott Bell

How to Create a Seamless Customer Experience

What draws a customer back to a brand? Is it the brand itself, continual client engagement, or the customer experience the brand provides? 

Ideally, it’s the combination of all these, but customer experience (CX) is gaining momentum as the most important factor in customer retention. From continuous health data on your smartwatch and banking apps that monitor and message clients on investment options, to grocery apps that know what you need before you do, brands are leveraging data to optimize their customers’ experiences.  

In their book Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage, authors Nicolaj Siggelkow and Christian Terwiesch highlight a variety of seamless customer experiences that provide a powerful competitive advantage. As companies refashion how they interact with their customers post-Covid, they explain, customer experience is the singular touchpoint that can serve as a growth hack to drive revenue — and also leave an impact trail when building lasting relationships.

A seamless customer experience 

Brands should keep these four steps in mind when striving to build seamless customer experiences:

  • Know your customer — Understanding what excites and interests your customers is the first piece of the puzzle. Leveraging customer data to understand their needs will create desirable outcomes. 
  • Empower response-to-desire experiences — Customers often know what they want and simply wish to press a “button” that simplifies the rest of their journey. For example, buying an e-book and having it instantly delivered is a response-to-desire experience.
  • Provide tailor-made offerings — Customer data on its own can’t help brands unless that information will result in curated experiences. If they’re provided a menu of customized offerings, consumers can choose one that suits their needs at any given point. For instance, consider how streaming platforms help simplify watching decisions based on a person’s viewing behavior. 
  • Anticipate roadblocks — Creating seamless experiences involves understanding and predicting needs and fixing problems before the customer faces them. According to Gartner research, only 13% of customers receive proactive customer service vs. about 87% of customers who have never received it. Proactive customer service is a simple way for brands to boost retention and customer loyalty.

For growth marketing, the focus typically is on using customer data gleaned from various marketing campaigns across frequently visited channels. Providing seamless customer experiences across these channels will produce stickiness for the consumer, resulting in retention and lifetime value. However, brands must also have a holistic plan that focuses on relevant touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Identifying customer interaction patterns and preferences — via surveys, onboarding programs, and social-media behavior and engagement patterns — will help build efficient loyalty and referral programs that reflect customer interests. 

Leaving an impressive impact trail 

When creating customer experiences, it’s critical to avoid certain pain points when building and maintaining loyalty, including:

Irrelevance: While having an impact is essential for building brand visibility and maintaining consumer interest, this shouldn’t be done at the expense of personalization or relevance. For example, unwarranted notifications and unsolicited emails and messages can turn off customers, pushing them to unsubscribe and fraying the customer experience. Constant Contact research indicates that the overall open rate for emails across industries stands at 37.7%. A brand must exhibit a sound understanding of customer needs to optimize those numbers and impress customers with experiences. 

Out-of-date content: Today’s customers don't want generic or outdated content — rather, they’re seeking current, competent, and customized messaging. Updating websites and apps based on recent consumer metrics is critical in maintaining relevance and retaining interest. Keep the messaging simple and error-free, and add a personal touch to improve experiences, especially when the frequency of communications is high and is expected to generate responses.    

No emotional connection: When customer experiences fail to connect with customers emotionally, those experiences are typically not backed by data. Failing to generate a favorable emotional response — the equivalent of a weak impact trail — inevitably results in a lower score with the Forrester Customer Experience Index (CX Index). In a recent Forrester US CX Index report, scores dropped for 19% of brands that failed to elicit “feel-good” emotions, preventing consumers from making strong brand connections. Fifty-four percent of customers who report positive emotions like feeling happy, valued, and appreciated are willing to forgive brands that make mistakes.

Using customer experience as a metric of success, leaving an impressive impact trail is a 360° exercise with an unyielding focus on curated, continuous, and customized attention to the customer. For a brand, providing relevant, seamless customer experiences can generate a growth hack and an impact trail that will retain customers for life. 

Scott Bell is Vice President, Marketing Technology for RRD.

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