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Driving growth through customer experience

customer experience
(Image credit: Image Credit: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock)

“We will continue to focus relentlessly on our customers” was Jeff Bezos’ promise in his original letter to shareholders in 1997. This is a pledge that has withstood the test of time, echoed in Amazon’s current mission statement that opens with “We aim to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”. 

If the world’s largest online retailer has cemented the importance of the customer in its philosophy for the past 24 years, it only makes sense that businesses should be revisiting their strategic models and making mirroring adjustments in order to drive growth.

As we navigate a post-Covid-19 world riddled with shortages, delays, disruptions, and closures, customer-centricity will serve as a lead value driver. More than ever, customer loyalty will prove to be fundamental in the pursuit of profit.

With research (Qualtrics XM) showing that investing in CX initiatives has the potential to increase revenue by 70 percent within 36 months, it is crucial that businesses start to see customer service as a profit center. Here are five key steps that will set organizations on the right path towards greater customer experience that makes a positive impact on the bottom line.

1.    Tailor your approach

Customers want to feel remembered, recognized, and receive recommendations that are accurate and relevant to their previous purchases and searches. Personalization is important in both securing new sales and upselling. Studies have shown that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences, and when enjoying a highly personalized shopping experience, customers indicated that they were 110 percent more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40 percent more likely to spend more than they had planned.

These findings show that customers still desire the personal relationships of the offline, face-to-face world, harking back to the days when shop assistants knew their name, likes and dislikes. Businesses need to respond and re-create these experiences in the online world.

2.    Tap into the desire for convenience

Maximizing the convenience offered to consumers is a powerful driver of customer experience. In fact, PwC research found that 43 percent of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience; and 42 percent would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience, which are both by-products of creating a customized customer journey.

Delivering the right information, at the right time, on the right platform may just make the difference between a flourishing and stagnating business. Convenience-optimizing technology that was once cutting-edge and hardly affordable has now become mainstream and enables businesses to capitalize on this expectation of easy interactions at scale.

3.    Improve the accuracy of predictions 

Companies must evaluate all the intersection points of a customer’s journey to truly build a rich history that enables them to predict future buying trends, make relevant suggestions, and create a uniquely personal experience. This involves studying a potential customer’s first experience on the company website, analyzing browsing history and tendencies, and reviewing the shopping experience such as the placing and receiving of orders.

By combining full correspondence history including any emails, texts, live chats, and reviews the customer may have left (simply anything and everything that they have experienced when interacting with any part of the business) a thorough understanding of the customer’s needs, preferences, and most plausible future behavior can be surfaced.

4.    Let technology do the work

Artificial intelligence (AI) offers organizations an abundance of opportunities to harness vast amounts of data, making it more accessible and actionable to all business users. Gone are the days of silos and scattered data, too big or difficult to make sense of.

With AI, the manual work of sorting, categorizing, observing, and deciding is taken care of and customer-facing teams can focus on strategic goals rather than tactical, time-consuming tasks like pulling customer lists. In Gartner’s September 2020 survey of business and IT professionals, 24 percent said their organization invested more into AI since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – showing huge progress within just 6 months. As the AI and automation uptake accelerate the race is on to keep up with competitors and not fall behind.

5.    Change with customer feedback

Customer experience is an ongoing relationship and a key part of ensuring success is to listen and implement customer feedback into action plans to improve service. Gartner found that although 95 percent of companies have collected feedback from their customers for years, only about 10 percent use these suggestions to change their processes and improve customer experience. But as Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

Instead of wasting this opportunity, companies need to merge the desires of their customers with the overall business strategy. This can be achieved by consolidating direct, indirect, and inferred customer feedback received through numerous intersection channels, so customer concerns are resolved in real-time. If various teams and areas of the business interact with customers, knowledge-sharing programs can be an effective way to remove departmental barriers and improve customer-facing processes.

Invest in your customer

While the correlation between customer loyalty and profit continues to increase as the world further digitalizes, companies that invest in tactics and technologies that bring them closer to their customers can unlock steady revenue growth. Although the inclusion of personalization and investment in technology is vital, companies must be willing to listen to customer feedback, or risk losing business.

It is more important than ever to retain customers to ensure they play a part in a company’s growth, instead of its competitors. Understanding that intelligent technology is a key enabler in creating an impactful customer experience will allow businesses to reap the benefits of having satisfied, long-term customers.

James Frampton, Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA, SugarCRM

James Frampton, Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA, SugarCRM