Any interaction a customer has with your brand is part of their brand experience. In the age of technology, this interaction and experience (and therefore their perception of the brand) starts long before they walk into your establishment.
We are a fickle generation of consumers; for businesses, winning loyalty is much harder than it was years ago. We used to be satisfied with walking into a restaurant or store, choosing what we wanted, eating it or buying it, and leaving. That was the extent of the consumer experience and it was 99% controlled by the brand itself. Now we make decisions daily that are driving by large amounts of information and technology – and consequently each decision has a multitude of courses of action.
Take the decision to go out for dinner: 20 years ago, this would have been as simple as thinking of your favourite restaurant, maybe trying something new based on somewhere your friends went to recently, or taking advantage of a discount coupon that came in a flyer in the mail. Today, you can look online for all the restaurants in your city, even reading menus before you go. You can ask Siri, Google Home or Alexa for their recommendations, or you can search for restaurants “near me” on your smartphone. You can check out ratings and reviews on dedicated websites, or you can ask your network of friends on social media. We are inundated with information, including peer-provided information that is largely out of the brand’s control. Nonetheless, it all ties back to one thing – the customer experience. If you strive to constantly create a great customer experience at all the touch points that a business has with your brand that are within your control, then everything else will fall into place. Your business will naturally be talked about among friends and you’ll earn positive reviews online.
Before diving into the specific touch points where you can optimize the customer experience, it’s important to make a note about customization. Today’s modern consumer expects personalization – online and offline! They expect businesses to know who they are, what they are interested in, and what offers are going to appeal to them the most! The more personalized the experience, the happier your customers are going to be. But this is easier said than done, and is another post in itself.
Most businesses have a website. It’s 2018. If you don’t have a website, you should. It’s one of the first interactions a potential customer might have with your brand, and is a key touchpoint that you must focus on to create a great customer experience.
- Think about the audience of people that come to your website. Can you change your website to address each and every one of those people on a personalized level, which will lead to a much more enhanced customer experience? For example, an outdoor equipment retailer will have several audiences that they appeal to – hikers, bikers, kayakers. If you can segment and tailor the website experience to speak specifically to each of those audiences you will create a better customer experience. You can segment your audience into almost any audience group – gender, age, location, past purchases/past page views (based on tracking).
- Ensure you are always providing the information your website visitors want. If you have physical locations, state the addresses, open hours, and a phone number. Conduct testing if you are not 100% sure what is going to appeal most to your audience. Even simply changing some colours and font type can have big impacts.
- One of the most frustrating things for a potential customer is not being able to find out more about the business online when they want to (reiterating the need to have a website!). Even if you have a website, if it’s not built in a way that search engines can find it, then it’s as good as useless. If people are online, searching for your business, and can’t find it, they are going to get very frustrated!! Learn about the basics of SEO to ensure your website can be found by search engines and customers alike. Again, this will be covered in another post.
The Mobile experience
77% of the North American population own a smartphone. Which means your customers own a smartphone, and they are using it to look for local businesses online, making it another critical touchpoint in the customer experience journey. However, despite the fact that more online searches are now conducted on a mobile device rather than a desktop, and people today have 2X more interactions with brands on mobile than anywhere else, businesses are still struggling with mobile marketing, and/or how to create a positive mobile experience for their consumers.
According to Google, people have higher expectations for the experiences they have with brands on their phones and when people have a negative brand experience on mobile, they are over 60% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future.
- Websites must be mobile responsive. Many of today’s website building tools (even low cost ones such as Weebly or Wix) have responsive design built into the platform, so you don’t even have to think about it. Here’s an example Weebly provides of their responsive designs in action.
- Speed, relevance, and being able to find the information needed on a mobile device is critical for customer satisfaction.
- Investing in a mobile app is one way to enhance your customer’s experience. Starbucks’ app allows customers to order ahead and pick up their drink without waiting in line, 7-Eleven has an app that sends coupons to your phone, encouraging a visit to a store to redeem them, and Boston Pizza’s app allows for easier and faster online ordering, If you decide that a custom app is where your business is heading, be mindful of sending too many push notifications. Google reports that 46% of people say they would not purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience.
- If building your own app is not within your marketing budget, partner with a company like GetintheLoop that can provide everything you need for app marketing (the audience, the self-serve offers platform, and reporting dashboard) without the pricey tag.
Online Ratings and Reviews
As a business, you have little control over what people write about you online. Most people like to write a review about two scenarios during their interaction with a business – either an exceptionally positive experience, or an exceptionally negative experience. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business and review sites such a Yelp, Tripadvisor, it’s easy for business owners to fear a negative review. Don’t take reviews and ratings lightly, and if possible respond to all online reviews, even the negative ones. A negative experience can be turned into a positive one, if handled the right way. Take an example by Nordstrom. A customer tweeted “Good news is I bought this great blazer in Portland. Bad news is there is a sensor left in the jacket.” The Nordstrom social media team saw the tweet, contacted the customer, and sent a person to her office to remove the sensor tag.
You’ve heard of the expression “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” and it’s true. You have one shot at making a great first impression. And unfortunately, being the fickle people we are, all it takes is one bad experience in the lead up to choosing a business, or during/after the experience, to undo all the positives that have occurred before. Make sure your customer experience is memorable…for all the right reasons!
GetintheLoop for Business makes local marketing easier. Attract and retain more customers with mobile offers, delivered directly to their phones. Keep 100% of your revenue. Get started today!