Why you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes…or pants…or jackets
By Denise DeSisto, VP, marketing automation and product innovation, Customer Portfolios
The growing number of customer touchpoints has made creating and implementing effective marketing strategies harder than ever. In fact, Hubspot's State of Marketing 2017 shows only 61 percent of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective. This means that 39 percent of marketers are deploying ineffective strategies.
While there are several contributing factors, one glaring reason is not properly understanding your customer's experience.
The goal is — and must be — to keep customers at the center of a brand's marketing strategy. But what does that really mean? To B2C marketers, it means taking the insights from a CRM customer profile and developing a 1-to-1 experience that caters to them. It means providing them with relevant content, product recommendations and targeted offers at the appropriate time throughout their lifecycle.
Some marketers focus on specific campaigns, which are only relevant for a snapshot in time. But retail marketers need to think bigger. They must understand the full, holistic view of the customer experience to make an impact.
To get that view, marketers need to put themselves in the customer's shoes — or as close as they can get. Instead of just doing a quick check of what campaigns they have in place, retail marketers need to physically undergo the customer experience as different types of customers.
Here is a checklist to use as you take this customer journey:
Customer experience touchpoints:
- Sign up for emails online
- What happened next? Did you receive a single triggered welcome email or a series of nurturing communications? Or, gasp, nothing?
- The longer you went without making a purchase, were you treated differently than if you had made a purchase?
- Fill out any forms such as an account page or preference center
- Were your new customer preferences added into communications sent to you?
- Purchase a product online
- Did you receive an order/shipping confirmation? Is there a way to track your order, or a number to call if you have questions?
- Did your experience on the website become more personalized since you became a customer?
- In-store experience
- Were you greeted properly?
- Were you asked for your customer information at checkout?
- Were you asked to opt-in to receive communications?
- NOTE: Be sure your stores are up-to-date with your state's compliance laws
- Did the in-store experience feel connected to the online experience? Did the two experiences feel like one unified brand?
- Are you being re-targeted online properly?
- Or is that pesky image of the product you just purchased haunting you around for weeks?
- Is your customer service team responding to questions/complaints/feedback properly?
- Is there appropriate follow-up communication to this interaction, if applicable?
- Is there follow-up communication if you returned a product you purchased?
Check the channel experience
You can take this approach thorough each channel and device. Examine each experience individually to see where the customer experience can be improved and where they relate to gaps across channels. You will want to first fill your gaps and identify inconsistencies in omnichannel messaging. It is important to be proactive, not reactive, in customer and prospect communications. You don't want to hear from them only when they are unhappy, like missing out on an offer they were promised.
In traveling through the full omnichannel customer experience, you may find that you will identify gaps not only in the customer experience, but in your supporting infrastructure, too — and that is ok. The need for new system integration may be necessary to ensure that your customers' experiences are seamless and enjoyable. For example, are you unable to send a real-time order confirmation email with relevant content tied to that purchase? Are you unable to capture customer data at the POS? Acting on these technology gaps can be a difficult to overcome, but identifying them is the first step to making a case for these improvements.
Doing it right: How one retailer improved the customer journey
Here is a recent example of how one retailer improved its customer journey experience:
A multichannel shoe retailer implemented a proper engagement strategy for new customers, using a four- and seven-touchpoint welcome series that consisted of automated emails to new customers and prospects, depending on their level of campaign engagement. This welcome series generated 35-plus percent lift in revenue on the test group over the control group, along with a result of customers being 12 times more likely to purchase than the control group..
There is no question that understanding and delivering a rich, rewarding customer experience is worth it. But don't forget that Rome wasn't built in a day — neither is a full blown, seamless customer experience. Start small and try to identify what holes you can fill first to improve the experience along the way. Experience it! You may find that just one change can lead to less customers falling into the gap of being lost forever.