The Future of Customer Experience is Guided Service

As a CMO, a lot of my job comes down to attracting and retaining customers. Throughout my career, I’ve tried to identify experiences outside of the office where I’m playing the role of customer that I can extract value from and apply to my work.

The ones to choose from are plentiful as today’s digitally native customers, myself included, are less and less influenced by deals and catchy ads. Instead we value ongoing experience with brands that matter most to us.  And whether you’re a healthcare provider, a bank, or a B2B software vendor, your company always changes for the better when it’s forced to evolve by listening to customers.  Consequently, marketing decision makers must embrace the challenging but exciting opportunity of ensuring that every brand interaction is meeting or exceeding consumer expectations. Doing so puts them and their companies in the position to win and keep customers for life.

A Great Experience is an Easy Experience

A ‘great customer experience’ can mean a lot of different things, but I tend to notice one common thread: they are easy. When you ask customers what is the most important thing businesses can do to win their loyalty, “make it easy for me” is what they come back to.  Therefore, a key to bottom line success is identifying, leveraging, and ultimately scaling the link between customer convenience and loyalty.

This isn’t earth shattering news. Over the past decade, enterprises have invested millions to create better, more engaging experiences for their customers.  Whether it’s an app, a portal, or a chatbot, companies are constantly trying to discover the next great answer to customer self-service.  The problem is that too often, these tools fail when customers need them the most.  We’ve all been there: a fancy portal hidden behind a password we forget, an IVR that we try to skip through immediately, an app that we download once but never actually use.  These self-service tools sound great in theory, but making it easy isn’t as easy at it sounds.

How Can You Simplify the Experience?

Now think about the first time you interacted with Lyft, Amazon, Netflix, Warby Parker, Virgin Airlines or any one of the handful of companies that are completely rethinking the customer experience. While all these businesses are completely different, they are razor focused on making each customer action and interaction easy. Admittedly, there are moments which are nuanced and complicated, but I’d challenge you think about simple tasks your customer wants to complete to maintain that relationship with your brand. Map out opportunities to reduce the amount of steps that interaction takes. Then, guide them through the rest. This proactive, guided approach to the customer experience can empower your customers with the necessary tools to get them where they need to go – and get on with the rest of their lives.  Customers want the ability to get things done themselves — but more times than not, that requires some level of guidance from the business on exactly what they need to do next.

To Keep Your Customers, Think Like One

Take a walk in your customer’s shoes. Think about what your customers are going through with your brand right now, and help make those interactions more valuable. If that sounds a lot like customer service to you — it should. If you really consider your customer’s perspective, you’ll realize no one really wants to be marketed to, but everyone wants good service. And in many ways, good customer service is the best kind of marketing you can hope for.

Take the simple example of moving homes and reinstalling cable service. A marketer’s first reaction might be to use this moment to promote a new channel package or services bundle. But before the customer can give those offerings a thought, they must first return their old cable box. While this is something that should be simple, it often turns into a confusing and frustrating process.  As a marketer, making sure that box gets returned is not your job. But the person returning that box is your customer, and that’s the situation they are facing right now. Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to make that customer’s life better in this present moment?” Make guided service a part of the overall marketing equation. If you can spend your time and energy eliminating that pain point now, you’re more likely to have a customer for life — and who knows, they might even add HBO.

About the author:

Brieana Tascione is the CMO of Relay Network, a Philadelphia based customer communications company that connects businesses and their customers on a new space for better service experiences.

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