CX matters

by Jamie Thorpe
Business & Finance

Winning in the experience economy

Delivering great customer experience is at the heart of every business, and the customer is king, right? Well, not always. The world has changed in 2020. In addition to COVID-19, we have seen seismic changes in the way we act as consumers. The desire to examine, interrogate and reflect on brands is very real, with six in ten customers claiming that they tend to buy from brands that reflect their personal values.1  We are seeing an active impact on brand perception depending on a company’s response to issues such as the climate, LGBTI+, fair treatment of employees, diversity and inclusion, and the gender pay gap, to name but a few.

As well as this, Ipsos has observed that consumers are increasingly savvy, fickle and promiscuous, driving experience expectations. Being good is no longer good enough: brands need to offer an ‘experience’ advantage. Digital connectivity gives us full transparency, in seconds we can publicly ‘rate or slate’ an experience online, which is increasingly shifting the balance of power between brands and customers. We choose brands – and reward them with our loyalty – if we have compatible values. Plus, the modern customer is also prepared to give up some of their data privacy in order to keep this possible and to receive a better experience – 77% now accept that losing privacy is inevitable and acceptable.

This need for relatability is borne out in Ipsos’ ‘Get Fair or Fail’ research, which showed that customers who are ‘emotionally engaged’ demonstrate a lifetime value (money spent) three times as large as those customers who are merely ‘functionally satisfied’.

Savvy brands understand customer experience cannot be delivered in silos and as a result have engaged and empowered their teams (especially frontline staff), creating a clear line of sight between business strategy, message and customer experience delivery. As we have said before, customer experience is everyone’s job, from boardroom to frontline.

77% now accept that losing privacy is inevitable and acceptable

Woman with colourful shopping bags on the escalator in a shopping centre

In short, modern customers want to be known, heard and valued

As the tables turn and customers sit firmly in the driving seat, brands are being forced to re-imagine marketing strategies and close the gap between brand promise and customer experience reality. Brand, customer and employee form the experience holy trinity. The days of disconnectedness between these pillars are long gone. Brand promise is now inextricably linked to experience. Marketers no longer have free reign to make outlandish claims that can’t be fulfilled. The brand promise and customer experience must be in seamless synchronicity. A successful expectation and delivery model lead to true customer engagement and thus genuine and lasting satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

The customer and their experience are at the heart of all of this, but it is a noisy and complex ecosystem. In short, modern customers want to be known, heard and valued. The personalisation that comes through knowing a customer will encourage them to share and engage. When they provide feedback, they want to be heard – not just listened to. Most importantly, they want to feel valued and see action.

This has all come to the fore in 2020 and is set to become even more important in 2021. It isn’t digitisation, disruption or any other number of external factors that brands might point at – it’s mediocrity that will drive customers away – and if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.

Jamie Thorpe

Jamie Thorpe

Head of Experience Management