In today’s world, consumers expect personalized experiences in their business interactions. Companies must engage customers who buy their products and services if they want to be successful.
In fact, 66 percent of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 76 percent of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, according to Salesforce.
Stacey Gaines, director of Marketing and Communication for HORNE, agrees.
“If you think about those little things, just going the extra mile helps,” she said. “And if people rate you highly, they’re likely to stay customers longer and become an advocate for you. They’re going to tell somebody, and that’s a big deal.”
Gaines said the best place companies can start when measuring marketing efforts and customer experience strategy is through commissioning a complete assessment.
“Typically, that is part of a comprehensive total business health check in which we look at all the touch points between the client and customer. We benchmark those against competitors and against industry standards to make sure they’re getting the mileage they need out of the efforts they’re making,” she said.
This assessment gives companies a clear understanding of where they are and where they need to go to remain competitive. It also reviews several marketing avenues including websites, social media channels and traditional sales collateral materials.
“Technology changes so rapidly,” Gaines said. “Things that a few years ago were on the cutting edge are now lagging. Websites need to be kept up-to-date and reassessed on a consistent basis. On the back end, search-engine optimization helps companies rank high in search results. If you haven’t got everything squared away, then you’re not going to be on the radar.
“And if your mobile load times are lagging, people get frustrated,” she added. “It impacts their perception of your company.”
Perception is key when it comes to your overall brand.
In the past, the word “brand” as it relates to companies meant the non-generic name for a product. But over time, Gaines said, it shifted to the feeling consumers have based on their interactions with companies. It also helps consumers understand a company’s mission and vision.
“This varies by person,” she said, “so we want to make sure that all interactions are creating positive experiences.”
Some elements include:
- The recognizable image, or visual logo, that consumers can easily identify and connect with.
- The voice, or personality, found in marketing and communications materials.
- The values held by stakeholders, often reflected in the mission and vision statements.
- The desired market segment and how your company stands out from others in the industry.
Gaines said while marketing efforts are essential to build a brand, customer experience plays a major role.
“This is basically the combination of every interaction you have from someone picking up the phone at your offices to your sales collateral,” she said. “It’s your proposals, but also your website and your traditional media.”
Gaines added that companies shouldn’t confuse customer experience with customer service, which really is just one piece of the total customer experience.
“It does no good to have an incredible, beautiful website that people can easily find and then not pick up the phone when people call, which happens all the time,” she said. “Particularly with in-home services, you can get an edge by just answering the phone or calling back. All those things need to work in tandem.”
Gaines noted that the customer experience has become a top priority for business leaders because they see the impact on the bottom line. She said they know the investment in that area and higher customer satisfaction scores not only increase the loyalty of current customers but also bring in new prospects and help with talent recruitment as well.
She suggests answering several questions to maximize the return on investment:
- Where are you going?
- Why are you doing this?
- What does success look like?
“Having a strategic plan for your marketing and customer experience is vital,” she emphasized. “If you don’t have those defined, you’re just doing things intermittently and they need to work in concert together to help you achieve your goals.”
If you’re interested in a marketing and customer experience assessment as part of your brand, HORNE can conduct a comprehensive total business health check, so contact us today.