Customer Experience: What does it really mean?

It seems that customer experience has become the topic of the moment, with the first Brainy Breakfast event this year from the Marketing Association focusing on ‘The Year of the Customer’.

But what does this trend really mean? For marketers, keeping the customer top of mind and being customer-centric is nothing new. It seems though that the customer has finally become the centre of focus for the rest of the organisation. Now that’s not to say that companies around the world haven’t cared about customers in the past or haven’t been focusing on customer service, but organisations now understand that customer experience is so much more than just the call centre.

There's now a deepened focus on all of the customer touch points, from a conversation a customer has with their consultant to a digital screen displayed at a McDonalds restaurant. Businesses now know that bringing the customer to the core of all business functions and creating a personalised experience that suits the customers need, is what really matters.

But as marketers, how do we truly bring customers to the core of our organisations and help to deliver outstanding customer experiences? Here are the top three key takeaways from the Brainy Breakfast event.

Make marketing more human
First up we heard from Robert Limb, CEO of TRACK. He reminded the audience that we need to make marketing more personal, because at the end of the day we are always marketing to people. He broke his approach down in to three steps:

  1. Customers expect us to make their lives easier, then get out the way. But they also need to know that marketing can be trusted and that as a brand we care.
  2. Understanding a customer's emotional needs is the key to differentiation through experience - using technology and data, not the other way around.
  3. Our people seek connection and meaning at work, and this will in turn translate into customer experience. Make a team that everyone wants to be a part of. This is something that Tonkin+Taylor speak to in much more depth later on.

    Stick to the process
    Jo Mitchell, Director of Marketing for McDonalds has a big task when it comes to creating a seamless, frictionless experience for over one million New Zealanders that interact with their brand daily. Her main tip for delivering exceptional customer experience in a big (really big!) business is to have a process to get everything across the line. And for her that’s 52 franchisees that have major skin in the game.

Being such a process driven business means her team have been able to implement big changes for the customer, including digital screens in McDonalds restaurants so they can display their product better and make changes to their menu quicker. They’ve introduced ordering kiosks so that queues are shorter and customers can choose and cruise in their own time. Aligning to Robert’s theme, they’re also bringing the human element back in to the restaurants by training their (often young) staff members about table service. Last year they launched the new McDonalds app to create 1:1 communication, create fun with gamification and reward loyalty. And last but certainly not least, McDonalds has partnered with Uber Eats to give their customers exactly what they want, when they want it – like a Big Mac at 7:30pm on a Friday night in bed.

To the McDonalds marketing team – our hats are off to you - you have achieved so much in a short time!

Leverage EX to deliver CX
To finish up we heard from Michael McGlynn, Head of Marketing and Communications and Briana Millar, Customer Experience Manager from Tonkin+Taylor, who have transformed their B2B business to be all about their clients. How did they do that? Well, they understood clearly that as a professional services business, it’s their employees who deliver on their promise. In a consulting-based business it’s their employees that create customer experiences, so by ensuring they had highly trained and engaged employees, they would in turn deliver high-quality outcomes for their clients.

They interviewed their clients and asked really tough questions about their experience. They then integrated a better employee experience – so that the consultants passed this on to their clients. They looked at how to manage client expectations, and most of the time it came down to asking questions such as “am I making my customer look good to their internal stakeholders?”. And the proof is in the pudding. By enabling a positive employee experience, they shifted their NPS and as a result they now have no customers sitting in the highly dissatisfied customer group – that's pretty impressive.

The Brainy Breakfast Poll
For our Brainy Breakfast poll, we wanted to know where the audience thought the customer experience should sit within an organisation. The results were clear – customer experience and a ‘customer-centric’ approach needs to sit right across the entire organisation.

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We followed up this question by asking which New Zealand brand the audience thought delivers outstanding customer experiences and why. We got some insightful responses...

Mecca are a cosmetic retailer in Australia and New Zealand which caters for any budget. They successfully retain their audience using their Beauty Loop loyalty program, rewarding customers based on spend levels with samples.

The Iconic an Australian online retailer was also mentioned for how fast they deliver as well as how they segment not only their customers, but also their products online.

So, now you know some the factors that contribute to delivering outstanding customer experiences, the question is - how will you take these insights and put them in to action?

At Qrious we suggest starting small and building from there. Take a good look at your customer touch points and your customer data and create personalised, delightful customer journeys.

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