There’s no denying it, your digital customers are now more demanding than ever before. It’s no longer acceptable for online businesses to adopt a ‘make money first’ approach.
Those that do subconsciously create dull, sometimes confusing, user journeys for their customers and it’s those inconsistencies that can be the difference between a prospect becoming a customer and a customer becoming an advocate of your brand.
A recent report from Forrester Research suggests that consumer spending and confidence are on the rise once again, while a recent infographic by Provide Support indicates that the quality of customer experiences could well become the key brand differentiator – as opposed to price and product – as we enter the next decade. Consequently, online businesses can ill-afford to neglect the importance of customer experience (CX) in 2018.
Here are some of the key hurdles for digital marketers to overcome in the quest to gain a competitive advantage in your respective industries in 2018:
Restoring and maintaining trust is paramount
Before any online business can compete in terms of CX, it must focus firmly on its availability, integrity and transparency. In 2017, we witnessed several disappointing examples of organisations failing to meet basic consumer expectations.
The most high-profile case being Ryanair’s unfortunate cancellation of a string of flights, leaving tens of thousands of passengers unexpectedly in the lurch. They were by no means alone in delivering a poor CX, with social platforms such as WhatsApp going down for lengthy periods.
Rather more worrying was the news that many parents across the UK were struggling to utilise HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) own website to access their tax-free childcare benefits. When big organisations like this fail to fulfil their basic obligations, it is clear that online users are within their rights to demand improved services in 2018.
Delivering the most value to the customer ecosystem
As advancements in technology help to commoditise services that are at the heart of many business models, brands must look to deliver the best possible value to each customer to maintain a competitive advantage.
Businesses may consider expanding their own ecosystems to service a greater percentage of a customer’s journey; dipping their toes into services far removed from their perceived comfort zones.
For instance, most high-street banks can review and accept mortgage applications just as effectively as one another; but what if a particular bank could funnel their mortgage applicants to highly-rated estate agents and reputable chartered surveyors to carry out HomeBuyer Reports? A bank that can help customers join the dots and go the extra mile will achieve superior recognition in 2018 and beyond.
Beware the arrival of GDPR
The European Union’s (EU) new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are something of an elephant in the room of many online businesses operating across the continent. The new legislation empowers consumers within the EU to ask any business that supplies to them to delete their personal information – data which is considered an important part of any business’ marketing arsenal.
Subsequently, the key to good CX in the context of the impending GDPR is to optimise consumers’ touchpoints with your brand. Each time a user encounters your brand it is an opportunity for them to consider whether they want your business to hold their personal information. Therefore, the emphasis on CX this year will be to offer touchpoints only when they are necessary and to provide a consistent, personalised experience, which brings us on to our next talking point…
Acknowledging the era of hyper-personalisation
For online businesses experiencing high rates of churn, it’s important to take a long, hard look at your interactions with consumers. It’s important to recognise that digital marketing has entered an age of hyper-personalisation: users want their brands to build direct relationships with them and to be treated like their only customer.
2018 represents a chance for online businesses to develop truly personal, omnichannel CX, with the creation of customer personas; segmentation of existing customers; analysis of customer data to obtain a better understanding of what a typical customer wants and leveraging that data to engage with users at every stage of their buying cycle.
The balancing act of artificial intelligence and automation
While nobody likes to talk to a robot, a 2017 Pegasystems survey found that 84% of respondents already utilised at least one artificial intelligence (AI) powered services, such as virtual home assistants or intelligent online chatbots.
As users grow more accustomed to engaging with AI and automation services, the onus will be on online businesses to demonstrate transparency regarding when they utilise AI and the benefits for their customers, such as self-solving issues. This open attitude to your users ties in perfectly with improving the transparency and integrity of your online operations that we alluded to earlier in this article, whilst improving operational efficiencies.
Above all else – listen to the voice of the customer
As you seek to improve the UX of your online business, there’s one fool-proof way to ensure any enhancements to your products or services are well-received – keep your finger on the pulse of the customer. Listen carefully to key customers and conduct thorough customer surveys to get a thorough understanding of what makes a happy, loyal customer.
Let experts help you to nail digital CX
You don’t have to go it alone. If all this sounds a tad overwhelming, and you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch today to have a chat about how we might be able to assist you.