Customers control their journey

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Marketing professionals admit their greatest challenge with today’s multi-connected consumer is to keep up with optimizing and maximizing the customer experience at multiple touchpoints.
Customers want to engage with companies online, in stores and talk with real people when they have a question or need to resolve a problem. It’s imperative to understand what customers expect, how they engage and what core values are driving their desire to connect with a brand.
In a joint study between the CMO Council and SAP Hybris, 2,000 consumers (1,000 in the U.S.) were surveyed to help marketers advance their customer-engagement strategies.
Customers are in control of their journey. Of those surveyed, 42 percent connect with brands through different channels depending on where they are or what they want, and 18 percent want to pick up the phone and talk to a live person if there’s a problem. Marketers must be ready to meet customers’ needs in the moment of engagement and opportunity.
The survey identified the top ways customers want to engage. Website, email and a phone number were the top choices, at 58 percent, 52 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Another 30 percent want in-person engagement, followed by 29 percent word of mouth, 27 percent direct mail, 27 percent social media and 27 percent traditional advertising. Marketers need to understand their customers’ journey and leverage that to enable customers to move at their own pace and with ease.
Loyalty is a two-way street. Customers want you to know them and provide a consistent, transparent experience. Thirty-seven percent are frustrated by price increases that offer no added value, and 36 percent feel they aren’t treated as loyal customers. Among their pet peeves, 33 percent report slow service and uninformed sales reps, and 27 percent get irritated when they can’t reach someone who can help them. Marketers need to move beyond knowing a customer’s name and birthday to a deeper, meaningful experience.
Customer value is relative to the information they’re willing to share. Customers reported different values — 77 percent see value in saving money, 49 percent in saving time and 47 percent in making their life easier. They see little value in connecting with other brand fans or in making them feel happy or celebrated. The majority, 70 percent, are willing to share some information with brands. Marketers need to reassess and realign their listening and intelligence systems to create meaningful customer engagement programs.
Customers want service and value wherever they engage. Customers are tolerant and middle-of-the road satisfied with their brand experiences, whether online and offline. Thirty-eight percent feel that brands know them better today, and 25 percent feel every touchpoint is relevant and personalized.
Consumers expect more, and, before long, their gratitude for improvement will be replaced with expectations for perfection. Think of today as a grace period. Marketers need to accelerate adding tools and technologies to connect marketing and processes.

Brands need to take action today to win, and keep, customer loyalty. If you don’t satisfy your customers, someone else will.

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer at GREENCREST, a 27-year-old brand development, strategic and online marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.