By now, it’s clear that customer experience is the battleground for brands to take victory in their respective markets. As we enter 2019, this philosophy is truer than ever, and marketing professionals are beginning to recognize the impact of customer experience on brand loyalty and the overall success of an organization. In fact, a recent Gartner study found that 81% of marketers expect customer experience to be the single greatest factor determining their brand’s market competition by 2020.
In order to remain competitive in today’s world of increasingly personalized experiences, marketers first need to recognize where they fall short when it comes to delivering the best customer experiences, and then put in place the necessary steps required to adequately shift their focus back to the customer.
Today’s consumers are more likely than ever to lose faith in a brand because of poor experiences or service. According to an Accenture study on the future of marketing, 64% of consumers switched providers due to bad experiences – defections valued at an estimated $1.6 billion.
The key to retaining customer loyalty lies in putting customers at the center of every strategy, and then reverse-engineering each step to ensure brands can not only gain customer loyalty, but retain it for the long term. By keeping the customer at the forefront of all processes, marketers will never veer too far away from what matters most, and thus reduce the risk of ever losing their loyalty.
In 2019, marketing professionals must work to keep the customer at the center of their operations, while continuing to deliver the quality services and products that will serve to exceed their ever-increasing expectations.
A customer’s loyalty isn’t dependent on a brand in and of itself, but rather, the products and services a brand offers. Customer satisfaction with brand experience is far more effective in retaining loyalty than the brand itself.
Retail Customer Experience found that 76% of consumers that have aligned with a brand are likely to change their mind. Marketers need to be focused on the fickleness of their customers, which all comes back to putting the customer ahead of the brand.
It’s a matter of perception: customers no longer want to be acquired, converted or transacted; they want to partner with organizations that not only provide a service, but also offer a sense of co-created relationship between patron and product.
It’s true that marketers are preparing for the future with a plethora of emerging tech and technological tools. A recent Forrester report shows that over 75% of marketing professionals who are customer-focused are investing or expanding their brand’s current technological capabilities. While these new capabilities—including automation, AI, and machine learning—do help to deliver a customer experience, they are but one aspect of the holistic customer-centric approach, and should not be looked at as the end-all, be-all of customer experience.
The goal of a customer-centric brand should be to serve the customer – technological tools are merely a means to solve customer-related problems. Without placing the customer at the center of the strategy, organizations won’t be able to tell what those problems really are. By putting the customer experience first and working backwards to make sure technology is delivering on that premise, brands will be able to focus on gaining and retaining brand loyalty and differentiating their brand from other players.
As marketers look ahead to 2019, now is the time to re-evaluate what their priorities truly are. Each and every aspect of their marketing strategy should stem from an unwavering focus on the people that enable their brand to be a success. Customer loyalty has never been as valuable as it is today – the survival of a brand hinges on loyalty, and those that can not only gain it, but retain it, will be the victors of this ever-evolving experience battleground.
Simply put, a brand is a set of promises. How those promises are kept is evident in the experience.
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