Most businesses appreciate the importance of customer experience. It’s a simple mantra; if your customers are pleased with their experience of using your product or service, they’re more likely to come back. Give them an experience that they don’t enjoy, and next time, they’ll be more likely to visit one of your competitors.
These seemingly simple ground rules are now more important than ever, with the advent of digital technology completely revolutionising the customer journey.
Businesses could once get by with straightforward strategies for each stage of this journey. To achieve greater awareness, for example, you could run an advertising campaign. To improve conversion rates, you might choose to work on your merchandising.
But digital technology has changed this process. Now, thanks largely to the evolution of mobile technology, there are several digital ‘touchpoints’, whereby customers can spontaneously connect and interact with their brands of choice.
The vast amounts of information that consumers now have access to has also affected the ‘awareness’ and ‘consideration’ stages of the customer journey, transforming these once-isolated moments into ongoing processes. Even until the moment of purchase, customers can easily find a competitor’s offerings in order to compare prices and services, and change tact without a moment’s hesitation.
It’s become an incredibly combative process. Customers are now more loyal to their personal needs than to specific brands and as a result, loyalty has never been so challenging for businesses. But providing a first-rate experience can help.
Many companies are aware of this change in mindset but are struggling to determine how best to approach it. The trick is to use digital innovation as a means of building a relationship with customers; to see it as a question of people, as opposed to one of technology.
Every business exchanges value with its customers. To break this transaction down to its base level, customers provide financial value in return for a product or service. Today though, it’s become much more than that. Digital technology now allows businesses to offer other kinds of value; to go further than simply selling a product and to build a real, meaningful relationship.
At Stefanini, for example, we have worked with business school, Saint Paul, to launch The 24-Hour Professor, an AI platform that can be trained by the school’s professors to answer questions that students may have outside lessons. Similarly, we worked with major pharmaceutical company, Enterfarma, to launch a loyalty app that allows customers to receive exclusive offers, make requests and even win discount coupons.
These are perfect examples of brands using technology to build relationships with their customers. It’s about the emotional value of helping your pupils with their studies, or the convenience of being able to manage a medical prescriptions via a phone. Execute it correctly, and this kind of initiative can even help to create what McKinsey has identified as the ‘Loyalty Loop’; whereby a strong enough customer relationship is formed that they will have less reason to consider other brands.
Finding the right solution
Not only do businesses understand the importance of customer experience, but many are already investing in using technology to improve their own customer journey.
At Stefanini, we recently surveyed our contacts throughout Europe, to investigate the progress of their digital strategies. One of our most encouraging findings was that a quarter (26%) believe improving customer experience and relationships is one of the most important benefits of digital transformation. Respondents felt even more strongly about improving experience than they did increasing profits (6%), reducing costs (6%) and growing their exist client base (13%).
It’s clear, therefore, that businesses know they need to adapt. With so many different approaches that brands could take, it can be difficult to know which solution is right for your business. It’s certainly not a question of simply throwing technology at the problem. Saint Paul and Entrefarma’s offerings were so well received because they addressed a specific need and offered genuine value to their customers.
To help meet this need, Stefanini has begun working with user experience agency, Gauge, and digital marketing agency, Infinit. By combining our technical capabilities with Gauge and Infinit’s knowledge of customer experience, we are ideally positioned to help businesses understand the needs of their customers and create a strong, digital experience.
Digital technology has completely changed the customer mindset, and businesses must use this same technology to innovate the journey that they lead their customers on. This is no longer an optional approach; it’s rapidly becoming a question of survival. But it will be those businesses that have the deepest understanding of their customers’ needs and passions, and who are willing to forge a meaningful relationship that satisfies those needs, that will ultimately succeed.