Our Managing Director, Paul Jarrett, explains how businesses that wish to succeed in 2019 and beyond need to adapt a customer-centric strategy and improve customer experience.

Where does ‘Improve customer experience’ sit on your 2019 to-do list?

When we talk about big digital and marketing trends and challenges, improve the customer experience has been pretty high for the past few years. But today it sits at number one. Why? Because it’s not something businesses need to be aware of. But something that business performance now relies on. Both today and even more so for 2019 and beyond.

The link between customer experience and business performance has never been so clear-cut. And the evidence to prove the business benefits is huge. It sits at the centre of everything we do and is by far the most exciting and important opportunity for businesses. We know that customer behaviour is evolving. When we look at customer and businesses interactions it’s clear that smartphones are a core channel. When we think about it, our mobiles are our go-to devices for everything. We carry them with us all day every day and they know more about us than anyone else in our lives. Making them an essential tool for life. And as mobile continues to reinforce its position at the centre of our ecosystems, brands need to ensure they aren’t losing out.

We need to shift our mindset from using technology because we’re told to, to creating services that solve real customer problems. We need to use technology to provide something of value to our customers. Which in turn enhances their journey and will ultimately improve customer experience.

The mobile-first leaders

Recently we’ve seen many mobile-first companies explode from the technology world. Including; Uber, Airbnb, Monzo and Tinder. Which provide a customer experience that is worlds apart from their pre-existing competitors. They’ve exploited global smartphone adoption to provide a more exciting, personal and instantaneous service. And each of these companies have grown to be leaders within their industries. All in a relatively short space of time.

The reason behind their success? These companies have provided a service that is quicker, easier and more exciting than their competitors. They have mapped out each step of their customer journey and understood where mobile can enhance the experience. They have truly listened to what their customers want. And turned multi-stage journeys into quick processes with only one or two steps.

Take Uber for example. Remember when we had to call a taxi company, provide them with details of your location and then make sure we had enough cash to pay for it. Uber takes care of every single one of those stages now. We just need to open the app and request a ride. Uber handle the location points and the payments. What makes this even more exciting though is that today we don’t even need to open the app. We can ask our phone to order an Uber. A journey of six or more stages has become one.

The secret to improving the customer experience comes down to understanding your customers. Understanding their motivations and their needs as well as what they want at different stages within their journey. This enables us to create quicker, more efficient and seamless journeys.

Our mobile is our most prized possession

It’s no secret that we live in a mobile-first world, our phones are our most prized possession. So enhancing the customer experience on mobile should be a key priority for 2019 if it’s not already. You need to look at transforming your services to make your customers lives easier. Brands succeeding today put the customer experience at the heart of their strategy. And in doing so it enables them to create better products. This is achieved through two things. Promoting a customer first culture internally and undertaking significant user research.

Today’s leaders put customer experience at the core of their business strategy. Led by both leaders and employees throughout the business, putting the customer at the forefront of all decisions. And this customer-centric approach will become a bigger reality in 2019. Particularly as businesses create cross-functional teams who are responsible for entire customer journeys. But, becoming customer-centric is not a quick overnight change but a long-term evolution. You need to think about how to empower your employees to think customer-first. Without the support from employees, businesses will fail at the first hurdle.

The voice of the customer

Successful apps and digital products provide value for both the business and the customer. So, before we build any digital products for our clients we ask about the user requirements. We work closely with them on defining the ultimate customer experience. This means user research is a priority. Particularly for understanding both the needs and digital behaviours of your customers. Map out the customer journey and identify each touch point, both online and offline. This helps to determine pain points, key interactions and where opportunities lie. Create conversations that give your customers a voice and listen to what they have to say. Use channels such as chat-bots or voice assistants and technology such as AI sentiment analysis to gain a true picture of your customers. It will define both your vision and your strategy. As well as save significant time and product development costs in the long run.

Only then do we think about which technology will really improve customer experience. Choosing the technology to adopt comes second. It’s key not to get drawn in and implement all new technology. But focus and invest your efforts in the technology that your users want and need.

The next generation of consumer experience is evolving quickly. And if brands fail to keep up the impact could be devastating. It’s a huge ask to get businesses to change their structure and strategy for their customers. But the rewards that come with it are equally as huge. Businesses that fail to evolve and become customer-centric will fail. They will follow in the steps of those who failed to evolve with the internet.

Want to know more about using mobile to improve customer experience?

Paul recently held a session at Executive Leaders Network where he discussed the importance of the app experience. He also shared the tools you need to establish where in the customer journey it will provide most value. If you’re interested to learn more, give us a call on +44 (0)1737 45 77 88 or an email at info@sonin.agency.