• NMG Staff

[Tribune] Customer experience: stop running, start building


This article was originally published by Fred de Gombert, co-founder and CEO of Akeneo.


The health crisis has profoundly changed the way we live and work. Companies have adjusted, rethinking their business models and turning massively to digital. In this context, the new management focus has a name: Customer Experience.


A number of studies have proven that investing in customer experience or CX pays off in terms of economic performance for companies. But in the midst of the crisis, creating experiences that fully meet customer expectations is almost an impossible task: even with the best will in the world, you will always be behind. When habits change and behaviors become unpredictable, it's hard to meet customers' exact needs while providing them with the stability they expect. A real paradox! In view of these contradictory injunctions, it is in the interest of brands to develop an "intelligent and agile" approach to customer experience, in order to provide satisfying experiences, without having to continuously reinvent themselves in order to adapt, in a reactive way, to changing behaviors. This includes more proactive, product-centric approaches.


Develop the flexibility of your customer experience

Of course, this is not to mention that brands should stop caring about the quality of the experience they offer to their customers. Like never before, companies need to inspire their customers, with consistent and relevant messages, throughout a tailored shopping experience. But to provide this type of experience, it's important to sort out what works and what doesn't. And what marketers and solution providers commonly present as customer experience has its limits. After all, let's face it: with the proliferation of touchpoints - websites, e-commerce sites, mobile apps, marketplaces, stores and more - it has become unbelievably difficult and costly to create impactful and consistent experiences across the customer journey. As these journeys have changed dramatically or become more complex with the health crisis, many brands are getting caught in the middle. Why? Because for years, their investments have been centered on one type of consumer, in a given context. It's hard to quickly switch to meet new expectations! As a result, many companies are struggling to survive in this new environment because the tools they have in place are limited to specific channels or distribution points.


Focus on products

Customers must be kept as the top priority for companies, but efforts can't - and shouldn't - be focused solely on them. Brands must also focus on their own strengths and create experiences around their products.


And yes: while customers are fickle with ever-changing needs, products are anchors for companies. In a period of uncertainty and doubt, brands represent elements of stability in the eyes of their customers. For this, they must particularly ensure that they provide coherent and relevant product information, with enriched and convincing content, adapted to all their different contact points. Focusing on enriching the product experience is an effective way to retain existing customers, attract new ones, win market share and generate growth.


A collaborative challenge

Of course, in order to enrich the customer experience based on its products, it is necessary to implement tools, both internally and externally, but the question of the product experience is not only a technological problem.


As is often the case, it is above all a question of collaboration and organization, both internally, by engaging all the teams that contribute to the product catalog, and with external partners (suppliers, distributors, agencies, etc.). The goal is to make the most of all these energies to set up efficient processes for creating, managing, enriching and updating the company's product information.


The most important aspect of this is to ensure the validity of information, as inaccurate product information can have serious consequences, not only for customer journeys, but also in the long term, for brand image. In addition to this accuracy imperative, teams must also ensure that they are delivering authentic, accountable experiences that respond to user values through relevant and consistent content, tailored to all their distribution channels. Indeed, it is important to retain customers through a consistent and quality experience. The stakes are high, because acquiring a new customer costs 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing one*. That's why this year, a 30% increase is expected in spending on customer loyalty and retention in Europe*.


Stop running to better build

Implementing the right processes is far from easy. That's why brands that get it right - with the right tools - build a real point of differentiation. Sure, it's hard work, but it pays off: brands that embrace product-centric strategies evolve in a more agile way, better responding to their customers' expectations.


Thanks to these strategies, some of our clients have witnessed a 70% reduction in new product launch time, while increasing the productivity of their teams by half. For these companies, it's often a revelation: they realize that their business is not to continuously pursue the best customer experience, but to create experiences around their products. They are now convinced that their customers will find value in their products, no matter what, even if the context changes.


Consistency above all

In today's environment, customers are seeking stability and consistency. If you chase after ever-changing targets, trying to meet the expectations of fickle customers, you risk failing twice. First, your organization will be too slow to adapt to the changes in these customers. Secondly, because you will have unsettled customers whose expectations have not changed or have evolved in a direction you did not anticipate. Conversely, with a product-centric strategy that uses the right digital tools, it's possible to provide a consistent and homogeneous experience to customers, regardless of their needs or priorities at the time. Companies that do this successfully reduce the likelihood that their customers will turn to the competition. They are also better equipped to roll out consistent customer and product experience strategies across all their touch points.


With the right product information strategy, it's much easier to develop engaging and interactive content that will provide all customers with the experience they expect. No matter how fast the world changes, brands that strive to stay the course by delivering product-centric experiences will be best positioned to succeed.

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