Customer experience is everything – it’s a mantra that every brand knows.
We know that the experience customers have when interacting with a brand, whether it’s online or physical, is just as important to the consumer as the products themselves.
Put it all down to experience
According to a recent report, companies that provide great customer experience outperform those that don’t. And a recent Mckinsey study found that more than 85% of customers purchased more if they’d had a positive experience and more than 70% purchased less if they’d had a negative one.
So customer experience is too important to ignore. The problem is, how do you know what a good customer experience is? One study shows that 80% of businesses believe that they deliver “super experiences”, while only 8% of customers think they do. There’s clearly a disconnect.
To deliver a truly customer-centric experience, you need to understand what your customer needs, wants and, importantly, feels about your brand and the service they’re getting. To do this, you need lots of data, and you need deep, accurate analysis.
Lean in: listening to what customers are saying
Businesses these days can get their hands on an incredible amount of customer data and, as long as they analyse it accurately, can ‘listen to’ exactly what their customers are telling them.
They can understand customers’ past behaviour. They can find out what they think of the company and its products and what they think of its competitors, how they’re feeling at the moment of interaction, what their intentions are, what makes them happy and what frustrates them. Through analysis, they have a real opportunity to provide a great customer experience, building brand loyalty and trust along the way.
The challenge for brands is to ‘join all the dots’, track customers seamlessly throughout their journey, whatever the device, channel or touchpoint, and align every business activity from customer support to brand promotion and advertising.
Tracking the journey across devices
The way customers interact with a brand can be complicated. They might start off visiting the website on their desktop browser, then later switch to mobile, then download the app – even go to an actual store to feel the product in real life.
Until recently, tracking this multi-device journey with Google Analytics (GA) was no simple matter. You had to use two different tools: GA to measure web engagement and Google Analytics for Firebase for apps.
But in 2019 Google came up with a feature called Apps + Web + offline analytics, which allows cross-device tracking in GA. With both website and app data in one place and in a consistent format, marketers have a more comprehensive, easy-to-read and user-centric view of how consumers interact with a brand.
This cross-device technology lets brands work out the weak points in the journey and make improvements where they’re needed. It’s a powerful addition to the customer experience toolbox. Here at Elespacio we’ve been implementing a holistic approach to the customer journey with our clients Nespresso and Victorinox. It’s especially powerful when combined with the other artificial intelligence technology that’s making business’s lives easier Including the magic that is sentiment analysis.
Feeling good about sentiment analysis
Sentiment analysis, or data mining, uses an algorithm that can detect the tone of a piece of text, whether it’s a social media post, a product review, a blog post or an entire document.
Using a combination of machine learning and natural language processing, the algorithm can work out whether the person writing feels negative, positive or neutral about a topic, brand or product. It’s a powerful tool, allowing businesses to automate the process of sorting through messages to find out what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong – and how customers feel about their competition.
And it can be used across many areas. Take marketing efforts, for example. Companies can track customers’ reactions to various events or social media campaigns. They can then learn from this and fine-tune their marketing strategy.
With customer service, sentiment analysis can determine which reviews are negative and which are positive. The team can then make it a priority to contact customers with negative views. Positive reviews, meanwhile, help businesses understand exactly what makes a customer happy and can use that to form a benchmark.
And the customer support team can use sentiment analysis to sort through inbound tickets and prioritise them based on the email’s tone of voice (the most dissatisfied-sounding customers being top of the list).
Social media makes happy customers
When humans need help with something, we like to talk to other humans. That’s why when it comes to customer support, the phone is still the most popular channel, especially if the customer has a complex problem.
In the online world, however, social media is the preferred way of getting customer support. In the early days of this newfangled channel, brands soon grasped its potential as a marketing and advertising platform. Consumers, however, were quick to see its usefulness as a way of ‘talking back’ to brands, either through public posts or private messages.
Now, consumers prefer it to email or web chat as a way of getting a problem solved and, in the US, 37% of internet users say they use social media to get customer support. Social is the ideal medium for customer support because brands can respond almost immediately, and getting a quick response is an important factor in creating a positive customer experience.
All of this means that social media is a huge opportunity for brands to improve their customer relationships, and businesses need to grab it with both hands – not just as a tool for promotion and marketing.
Active social listening: how to turn customers into fans
Social media is also useful because it means customer support teams can be active and not just re-active. They don’t have to wait for people to email them with a grievance; they can ‘hear’ the customer complaining on social media and step in to help.
Many brands are already using ‘active social listening’ to track down any mentions of them on the internet, using tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Mention or Sprout. It’s a natural progression for customer support to start using these tools as well – and the result could be a major improvement in customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to predict the customer’s behaviour accurately at all times. So instead of setting up channels and crossing their fingers that customers behave in a certain way, brands should be proactive, find out where each customer is in their particular purchase journey and listen to what they say and how they feel.
Only then will companies be able to truly tailor the experience to the customer in a way that will engage them and convert them.