Today’s customer journey is increasingly fragmented and complex as consumers interact with brands offline and online across multiple channels. We might have a quick browse online during our lunch breaks, skim through Facebook on the commute home and have a casual glance at our iPads while watching TV. To add to this, customer expectations are skyrocketing, making the modern consumer both harder to track and harder to please.
The widely noted key to brand success is consistency; consistency of image, consistency of service and consistency of experience. While customers may be inconsistent in their interactions with brands, moving across devices and channels, they still demand consistency from the brands they engage with. Maintaining consistency is more than best practice, it’s the key that unlocks good customer experiences in the digital age.
Customers jump across devices and platforms, expecting brands to keep up with them. Meeting this expectation means connecting the dots and knowing where customers are, where they have been and where they are likely to go next. How do marketers get their hands on this information? Enter data analytics.
Online and offline
The last thing marketers want to do is cause any form of confusion during the customer journey. Having two strategies for connecting with customers online and offline will ultimately disrupt the customer’s experience.
Armed with mobile devices and always connected, today’s highly informed consumers often research brands and their purchases online before physically going into a store. Some even switch back and forth between online and in-store interactions, and go so far as to engage with the brand’s online presence while they are in its store. It’s not uncommon to see a shopper, mobile phone in hand, taking photos or texting in the store. They’ll likely be checking a competitor’s site to compare prices or sending a photo of a potential purchase to peers for their opinion.
With customers fusing their online and offline experiences into one, brands need to ensure consistency across their physical and digital mediums. Data analytics come into play by informing marketers where and when a customer has engaged with a retailer’s digital presence and its physical store.
Know your customer
Consistency within the brand is important but it’s equally critical to ensure consistency with the customer. To do this, brands must interact with customers in their preferred manner, language and channel. Often brands focus on localising their physical presence and don’t extend this treatment to their online channels – a one-size-fits-all global digital presence just doesn’t cut the mustard. To be consistent with a customer, marketers must target according to a customer’s context, not simply their geographic location. This means identifying and communicating in their native (not necessarily geographic) language consistently across all channels.
Track the journey
Consumers living in the information age are aware their data is collected by brands and expect it to be used to better their experiences. Each time a customer engages with a brand, be it online, in-store or via a different device, it must be built upon their last interaction. Customers are leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs as they browse the web, skim their Facebook feed and interact on Twitter, making it easier than ever for marketers to know who they are and what they want. Nowadays, good customer service means leveraging this data for personalisation.
The key to good customer experience isn’t a secret – it’s simply being consistent and customer-centric. Brands need to be consistent across their channels and throughout the customer journey. To do this they must know who their customers are, where they are and where they’re going. Big data offers big insights, so collect the breadcrumbs, connect the dots and meet your customer’s expectations every time.
About the author:
This article was written by Paige O”Neill, CMO of SDL, a leader in global customer experience with integrated cloud solutions for content management, analytics, language and documentation.