Calvin Carter, Founder and CEO of digital experience consultancy Bottle Rocket, comments on the importance of developing a first-class user experience in the fast-moving digital marketplace and how this is imperative for future customer loyalty.


THE RISE OF THE CONNECTED CUSTOMER

Digital disruption has changed the way businesses operate forever. The explosion of digital connection points has created a whole new type of consumer, the almighty Connected Customer, who exhibits behaviour that is significantly different than any type of customer that has existed before. Their use of digital media such as apps, websites, and voice assistants drives their interaction with brands as a part of their normal everyday lives. This new norm, we refer to as the Connected Lifestyle, dictates how brands need to show up to be relevant in their heavily digital worlds. And to make it even more challenging for brands, this new breed of customer knows exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.

However, this does not necessarily mean the Connected Customer favours market leading brands. Instead, they favour simple, enjoyable experiences and interactions that make their lives easier or better. Once these consumers have a positive digital experience with a brand, that becomes their expectation for all experiences going forward, and they will not hesitate to switch brands if this cannot be matched.

This year, customer experience is set to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator[1], therefore if companies want to set themselves apart, they must focus on serving the customer — but in a whole new way than companies are used to. The new way to serve a customer is to fit inside of their Connected Lifestyle. If you can’t deliver experiences expected by their lifestyle, you’re out.


PUTTING INFORMATION IN THE HANDS OF CUSTOMERS

Within this experience-driven economy, you must remember that the digital journey may be a company’s only link to their customers. Brands must be willing to act differently by bringing convenience, and effectively your entire business, into the consumers’ hands. In return, the Connected Customer is likely to be the most valuable customer to your business, with larger spending averages and higher levels of advocacy. This will produce undeniable value for forward-looking businesses.


EXPERIENCE MATTERS

The vast amount of choice available for customers in all areas of their lives means that now is the time to take action. And while experience is the most important investment a business can make right now, a recent survey revealed that 90 percent of brands are still failing to meet customer experience expectations[2]. So, how are companies getting it so wrong?

Four out of five consumers agree that brands who know their customers best will earn their loyalty[3]. Businesses need to avoid overcomplicating the user experience and instead start taking the time to get it right. Take the success of Chick-fil-A One, as a great example of engaging the Connected Customer.

A dominant player in the U.S. fast food sector, Chick-fil-A found that frequent long lines resulted in lost sales as customers turned away. The kitchen was able to operate far faster than the front of house could take orders, so Chick-fil-A developed a mobile ordering and loyalty app called Chick-fil-A One to help eliminate customer frustration and create efficiencies for the business.

Not only did Chick-fil-A One allow customers to skip the line, it also allowed customers to easily personalize their order resulting in over 20 percent increase in their average ticket price illustrating the fact that 67 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience[4]. Re-ordering is also super simple, which increases frequency of purchases. The “surprise and delight” loyalty program allowed Chick-fil-A to offer new items to customers to try, for free, expanding a customer’s discovery of different menu items. New service designs married changes to their physical restaurants to support the Connected Lifestyle such as new drive through, pickup, curbside delivery and beacons that allow customers to receive table service. This new level of Connected Lifestyle experience successfully encouraged users to advocate for the brand and set a high expectation for all competing future experiences.


MAKING EVERY INTERACTION COUNT

Across all industries, it’s proven that Connected Customers respond well to Digital Customer Experiences (DCX) that are simple, personalized, and frictionless. And their expectations will continue to grow. With 53 percent of consumers looking forward to artificial intelligence (AI) making brand interactions a better experience[5], and more and more customer/brand interactions happening digitally, companies will need to continue to use various technologies to achieve meaningful connections with customers. By tracking data analytics and customer pain-points, businesses can build technology-enabled solutions that propel businesses and delight customers.

In the end, simplifying your brand experience is the most important thing you can do for your business because simple drives enjoyment, enjoyment drives engagement, and engagement drives revenue. It’s easy to make things that are hard, but it’s hard to make things that are easy. Companies need to double down on being easier to work with by fitting into their customers’ Connected Lifestyle.

This article was published in Engage CX Marketing