What's Ahead for the Customer Experience in 2013?
What do you think is ahead for the customer experience? Think back on 2012 and what resonated. Now look ahead with the benefit of a few weeks of 2013...
Back in November, BuyerZone's Sylvia Rosen asked for 2013 predictions as well as the best blog post of 2012 for The End of the Year Edition: The 12 Best Blogs of 2012 (with Flooring The Consumer in position #7!).
My prediction was:
In 2012, businesses saw more overlap between online and in-store experiences. Customers started taking multiple paths - including mobile - to find us, and we must be consistent across channels going forward.
My best blog post of 2012 was The Online Retail Experience: eCommerce Best Practices.
I've been doing more thinking since and share those thoughts with you here...
What's Ahead for Customer Experience?
Being consistent across channels (online as well as offline) is a big deal. The only way for a business to get it is by focusing completely on the customer experience and ensuring that all interactions are seamless. Customers use a variety of digital devices throughout the purchase process, sometimes in tandem. Don't make them question whether they are dealing with the same company!
The content shared on websites, blogs, social networks and in real life has to be meaningful to customers! It has to sound like it comes from real people who care. That requires an intense focus on customers and a strong commitment to education.
Content not focused on customers and which neither educates nor entertains becomes clutter or noise. It's junk to be avoided at any cost.
Just because something is cost-effective (e.g, cheap to do vs. traditional options) doesn't mean you should do it more frequently unless you truly provide value. Take email marketing. Once you've purchased something, how do you react to receiving similar sales emails on a daily basis?
Providing a customizable customer experience is becoming critical. Let your customer decide whether she wants to receive that daily sales message or prefers a monthly digest. There's value to receiving reminders when the timing is right.
Remembering your customer, her purchases and preferences - and communicating accordingly is becoming a basic business requirement when most people have experienced Amazon.
When you don't remember your customer's actions, you lose credibility. When you don't answer their questions, you appear shady. When you deliberately make it difficult for them to make informed decisions, they will think you are lying. Customers won't buy from businesses that aren't credible and which can't be trusted.
Managing email inbox clutter is becoming a source of stress for the recipient. For the sender, a cluttered inbox means being ignored, lost or -worse yet - flagged as spam. (Interesting how empty physical mailboxes have become and how much more attention real mail gets...) Ensure that your email provides value to the recipient! For example, receiving an email inviting me to review my online credit card statement on a bank site isn't as helpful as the email reminder from Mint that my payment for a specific amount is due in a few days (with great visuals) and viewing the detail from the Mint app on my iPad.
The challenge ahead for the customer experience in 2013 is how to be thoughtful, relevant and true to our customers. In some cases it means ignoring competitors. In other cases it means trying something new.
What would you add? What do you think is ahead for the customer experience?
Looking Back on 2012 via BuyerZone's Best Marketing Blogs
Here are BuyerZone's Best Blogs of 2012. I've reordered them so those in similar categories appear together:
Best Business Marketing Blog
Best Small Business Blog
Best B2B Blogs
Thank you, Sylvia and BuyerZone for including Flooring The Consumer!