The modern customer journey is a technological experience. In many cases, it’s simple stuff—a phone tree, a landing page on a website, an email. No matter how you slice this pizza, your customers are going to have to deal with technology in some fashion when they encounter your brand. Most marketers don’t think twice about these things. We focus on branding and messaging, we focus on cost and discounts, on quality guarantees and good, clean copy—we forget about the customer experience.
I can’t describe with words what a mistake that is.
Customer experience drives retention (or a lack thereof)
Let’s say your ad does its job and drives a customer to your website. Your job is to make sure that ad performs well. You wrote awesome copy for that landing page and you know that it’s enticing and informative. You’re optimizing your ads, changing creatives, and doing all the right things to make sure your marketing is on point.
Let’s even say that your customer experience team is responsive, helps customers, anticipates their needs, makes every customer interaction count, and so on. This is often the case at many firms—they have all their marketing and CX ducks in a row (or so they think). But it turns out that technology was pretty much an afterthought—and they can’t figure out why customers are having such a rough time or turning away. I ran into this not long ago at a small firm. The marketing was stellar, the sales team’s efforts phenomenal, but somewhere along the line, they’d haphazardly set up a phone tree.
And it was annoying their customers.
The message on the phone tree said it was sending you to leave a voicemail. But the way the phone system was set up, it was just sending calls in a loop to different members of the sales team—forever. I was annoyed because I couldn’t just leave a dang voicemail. The sales team was getting annoyed because they were getting constant phone calls when they weren’t able to pick up. It seemed like they had a lot more leads than they actually did because calls were going to multiple people. In a word, the whole thing was a mess. That one little mistake—not taking the time to test the phone system properly—likely cost this company both customers and a few salespeople.
Where is your technology failing?
Have you assigned someone to check (and keep track of) every link on your website? Have your employees walked through the entirety of your sales process to see where the sticking points are? Are you testing the UX? We talk about the customer experience a lot, but too often, folks only think of the intangibles—are you being greeted with a smile, are your items safely packaged and arriving to you in a timely fashion, are you getting checked up on by the front-desk staff after you check into your room. What we don’t talk about is the nitty-gritty—the user experience that few marketers really consider because it’s a “tech issue.” What good is an extremely accommodating front desk if your TV is impossible to figure out?
It sounds small, but is it? How many customers make their hotel lodging decisions based on the quality of the WiFi or the exercise equipment? How many consumers are saying “no way” to cars that have cool technology that’s impossible to figure out? Why are Apple computers still so popular even though PCs are cheaper, faster, easier to upgrade, and more agile? Because they work, and they work intuitively. You don’t have to be a tech genius to use a MacBook Pro. Learning how to use Windows doesn’t sound like much of a barrier to people who are experienced with it, but I promise you that Windows is a spooky beast with razor-sharp claws to people who are unfamiliar.
These tech barriers will get in the way of (and ruin) your CX efforts.
If you’re going to invest all that time, effort, and money into your marketing and the customer experience, spend at least some of your time looking into the technology that your customers deal with day in and day out. Look for annoyances, rough patches, and issues that might be interrupting their experience and keeping them from becoming loyal customers. Remove those barriers, and you might be surprised to see how much your retention rises.
And as always, good luck out there, marketer.