Modern customers have an evolving set of expectations when it comes to earning their loyalty. Why? Because they’re used to finding the best deals, the fastest shipping, and the most options with today’s technology. Brand loyalty isn’t always at the forefront of their minds.
But companies are finding a way to capture the attention of these deal-seeking, tech-savvy buyers. They’re designing customer journeys with a more personalized customer experience in mind.
A study by BloomReach backs this idea. It found that 87% of consumers actually prefer to buy from brands that offer the most personalized customer experience. Respondents said that they expected companies to predict or learn their behaviors and to adapt their customer experience accordingly.
In this post, we’ll explore how and why the customer journey is evolving—and what that means for companies seeking to boost customer loyalty.
Customer Experience & the Customer Journey
For many years, marketers have relied on the classic, top-down “funnel” model. It moves a buyer down toward a single, final conversion point: purchase.
But in 2009, McKinsey & Co. introduced a new model: the consumer decision journey.
How is the consumer decision journey different?
For one thing, the consumer decision journey puts customer experience and customer loyalty front and center. Instead of simply pushing customers through the funnel, this approach connects to buyers at decisive moments. It’s an ongoing sequence of key interactions, which McKinsey calls the “loyalty loop.”
The loop calls for constant monitoring and analysis of the customer journey. Companies can deliver personalized, relevant content at the right moment by continually revisiting what “personalized” and “relevant” really mean. Site analytics and optimization tools help companies track and iterate on their customer journeys, while key customer experience metrics like Net Promoter Score and customer satisfaction offer constant customer health insights.
Using this model, a company can anticipate its customers’ needs and design an unparalleled customer journey.
Customer experience is taking center stage
The consumer decision journey emphasizes customer experience, which we know to be increasingly important. Data from Walker indicates that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the main brand differentiator for the B2B space. Additionally, 70% of marketers told Econsultancy it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one.
This is shift in the right direction for customer retention. Rather than hammering on customer acquisition, this model suggests that loyal customers are the foundation of better business. Loyal customers not only spend more, but they become the brand evangelists who help attract new customers.
And what does the research say about the future of customer experience? It’s more than a smart positioning move for businesses—it makes financial sense, too.
Designing a customer journey that drives loyalty
To design a customer journey that creates a “loyalty loop” of repeated opportunity, companies need to focus on four main concepts:
Automation: Simple, transactional customer experiences can often be automated to boost efficiency. Take email, for example. Using email automation, companies can run highly personalized email marketing campaigns. These emails might include the subscriber’s name and interests (based on past buying habits), and they’ll deliver at the optimal moment.
Personalization: One-size-fits-all simply isn’t appealing to the modern consumer. They expect a personalized experience. Companies can optimize the customer journey for this personalization-happy audience by catering future experiences to their history and preferences. For instance, retailers often send customers purchase suggestions based on their past orders.
Engagement: The “loyalty loop” is all about customer engagement. Social media is a primary venue for the touch points that make up the modern customer experience, but some companies use interactive content to take customer engagement further. Polls, assessments, custom calculators… these personalized tools are valuable to user and company alike. Users get tailored information that helps them make informed decisions, and companies collect key information about their user base.
Analysis: Companies need a rigorous, ongoing method for predicting customer expectations in order to spot trends and outpace their competition. Consistent customer analysis—based on frontline feedback and customer surveys—customer surveys—help companies anticipate their customers’ wants and needs. Without this data, they’d be flying blind.
Designing a customer journey that builds loyalty can be intensive process, but it’s a major differentiator for modern brands. There’s always a cheaper, faster, smarter option out there. Customer experience is the new battleground companies will compete on.
With the right tools and an eagerness to innovate, companies can create a lucrative customer journey before the competition catches up.