If you’re a business owner alive and breathing in 2017, you already know that technology is the future of the customer experience. Marketing leaders like Jay Baer keep telling you how the customer experience itself is the future—not just how much it costs.
And today’s customer experience is, of course, a mash-up of the digital and physical, with a big focus on the former. So if you’re planning on surviving and thriving, it’s imperative that you invest in tech tools to help deliver a first-rate customer experience. But how should you go about doing this? Here are three key themes to hold in mind as you build a great customer experience:
1. Automate, automate, automate
Let your tools do the majority of the work for you. This is particularly important for small businesses—as customer expectations are sky-high and you only have a certain number of staff and hours in the week. Your website needs to work as your converting tool, so bring on board tools like Infusionsoft that can automate your processes. You need an intelligent CRM that understands the entire customer journey. Customer data stuck in silos is going to make customers run for the hills.
“It’s critical that a company’s CRM tracks all customer interactions and integrates these channels together as one,” says Kevin Drolet, founder of the San Diego-based media agency cThru Media. “By this, I mean email, phone, social media, live chat, and any other communication channel. If these aren’t integrated, the customer will likely have a poor digital experience.” He points to the example of the customer communicating with a live chat representative who is forced to repeat all the information they provided via email the day before. “This damages the digital experience,” says Drolet. “It’s a waste of time, and customers will notice.”
2. Be conversational
As Madhukar Kumar, the VP of CX Cloud at Oracle recently explained “the new user experience is conversational.” What does conversational mean? It’s alive, working in real-time, and feels human. Technology makes it easier than ever to start a conversation, through channels such as:
Chatbots: By far the leading conversation-starter out there. Christoph Seitz is the CEO of CFR Rinkens, an international shipping company—if you visit their website, a chatbot appears near-instantaneously asking if you have questions. Seitz says that customers often dig right into the conversation: “The visitor will respond which gives us the opportunity to open a dialogue and collect a method of contact. We ask for an email address in order to respond with the best possible information and so that a member of our sales team can reach out to answer any additional questions. This has worked remarkably well for us in terms of lead generation.”
Social Media: If you’re a very small business and the idea of chatbots doesn’t seem manageable, use social media. Gail McKill is the founder of OceanJ, an online jewelry company founded in Edinburgh, Scotland. She’s been using Facetime as a way to offer “a more human approach to online shopping.” Says McKill: Facetime is perfect because it is a simple, clever app that gives me the opportunity to showcase collections in a one to one conversation with shoppers. This brings great benefits as it gives clients the chance to discuss their requirements and see their chosen goods in a real-time situation.”
3. Personalize all outreach
As you build your customer journey across an integrated series of tech platforms, focus on delighting your customers. This means using marketing tech tools to create and deliver intelligent content that speaks to the right person at the right time. According to the AgilOne Consumer Survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents in the U.S. now expect marketing personalization from brands. As you send emails to customers, explore various ways to personalize your messages so that they resonate with individuals rather than the masses.
Set about modernizing your company for the expectations of 2020 now. Invest in smart, automated tools that can aggregate all the conversations occurring across all your platforms. Make it intelligent, agile, and use all manner of forms of communications, from chat, to live video. Then with those strong foundational aspects in play, focus on delighting your customers. Be quirky, make them laugh, make them feel special. This old-fashioned attention to the customer will bring them back for more.