All the latest tech and toys in digital marketing are always cool. ChatGPT? Cool. The new Bing? Cool. Many of the innovations that Google just announced? Also cool. But do you know what’s really cool? Customer experience. Yeah, that’s right, I said it: Customer experience is cool.
It’s not just cool, though. It’s great for your business. Sure, any new tech could have dramatic effects on your business in the long-term. And, yes, it’s not an either/or situation; generative AI and other machine learning tools will probably be part of your customer experience soon & mdash; if they’re not already.
But, customer experience matters more. And it matters today. How can you drive a better experience for your customers, right now? How can you help your customers accomplish their goals, today? And, how can you be cool too? That’s what this episode of the Thinks Out Loud podcast is all about.
Be sure to check out the show notes and let us know what you think. Cool?
Big Digital Marketing Trends: Customer Experience is Cool (Thinks Out Loud Episode 375) — Headlines and Show Notes
Show Notes and Links
- Customer Experience is Queen? What Does That Mean? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 190) – Tim Peter & Associates
- How Lively Demonstrates Customer Experience is Queen (Thinks Out Loud Episode Episode 339)
- Where Content, Community, and Customer Experience Meet (Thinks Out Loud Episode 346) – Tim Peter & Associates
- Big Trends: Does Marketing Have a Future? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 375)
- Big Trends: The Early Innings of AI in Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 374)
- Revisiting "We Owe it to Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better" (Thinks Out Loud)
- The End of Google? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 372)
- Is ChatGPT Going to Steal Your Job? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 371)
- The Future is Already Here (Thinks Out Loud Episode 370)
- The Most Important Trends in Marketing 2023 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 369)
- How to Drive Business Using Digital (Thinks Out Loud Episode 368)
- Will ChatGPT Kill Google? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 367)
- 5 statistics that shed light on the future of customer experience
- Why ‘Relentless.com’ Redirects to Amazon | Mental Floss
- Win Every Micro-Moment With a Better Mobile Strategy
- The Single Biggest Change Shaping Business Today (Thinks Out Loud Episode 257)
- Marketing at the Speed of Digital (Thinks Out Loud Episode 215)
- How to Escape Big Tech’s Web (Thinks Out Loud Episode 395)
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- Customer Focus
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Transcript: Big Digital Marketing Trends: Customer Experience is Cool (Thinks Out Loud Episode 376)
Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise, your business. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 376 of the Big Show, and I think we have a really cool show for you today.
What Doesn’t Change? Customer Experience Still Matters
My team and I have recently been working on a project for a B2B client and spending a lot of time looking at their website and their competitor’s websites and things like, And it’s amazing.
We’ve talked about things like ChatGPT and the new Bing and Google Bard, and other generative AI tools a lot here on the show. I’ve been talking about it for the last, oh, I don’t know, several months pretty regularly. But I’m looking at companies, not the client, but certainly their competitors, who are operating today in 2023, with fairly poor website experiences. Limited or no customer portals. Little social selling. And many of these companies are doing okay, but largely in spite of themselves, even after three years of a fairly forced digital transformation. They’re leaving themselves open to competition, not only from the AGFAM — from Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft — but also from startups that bring new ideas and new approaches to find and reach customers.
The Queen is Not Disposable
You’ve heard me say many times on this show that customer experience is queen. And I’m amazed by how many companies are treating the queen about the same way that Henry VIII treated his six queens: As a fairly disposable item. Do you really want the queen — do you really want your customers — to think they’re disposable?
I bet you don’t. And if you think you do, there’s new research from Adobe that talks about how 89% of senior executives believe customer expectations are constantly resetting to match the best omnichannel experiences customers have anywhere. We’ve seen this for years and years. But despite seeing it for years, it’s still happens. And it’s happening across an array of industries. This isn’t just B2B. I’m not just picking on my clients’ competitors. I’m seeing this everywhere.
I recently encountered a young homeowner guy about 35 who refinanced his mortgage because of his prior lenders horrible mobile app experience. I mean, switched his whole mortgage. Yes, he was able to get a better rate, a marginally better rate, but he went looking in the first place only because he was so frustrated with his existing lenders’ experience. We know that customers conduct the vast majority of their research online. It happens in B2B, it happens constantly in B2C. There is older research that shows that most customers are more than 70% along the way to a decision before they get in touch with your sales team.
Is Your Digital Presence Taking Care of Your Customers?
Your website is, or ought to be anyway, a 24/7/365 salesperson. It ought to be a 24/7/365 customer service rep. It ought to be always ready to help answer any questions that your prospects and your customers might have.
Take a moment. Think about the best experience you’ve had with a brand lately. I’m going to bet that experience was probably with some member of the AGFAM, somebody like Apple, somebody like Google, somebody like Amazon.
But it’s possible it could have been anybody. If you study the experiences both digital and physical, that your customers choose most often, you’ll notice a pattern that emerges again and again, and again.
What Big Tech Knows About Customer Experience
Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, YouTube, Booking.com, Etsy, Walmart, and on and on and on all share a few common traits. They’re easily accessible to your customers. They’re unwavering in their focus on making it easy for customers to find what they need, or at least find those things that align with their business goals.
They always make it easy for customers to quickly accomplish what they want to do and then get back to their lives — at least until it doesn’t align with their goals. Try unsubscribing from some of these services and it can get pretty complicated. But putting that aside, they make it easy for customers to do what they want to do, and they invest a healthy chunk of change in continuously improving their customer experience.
Relentless Focus on Customer Experience
They’re relentless in that customer focus. In fact, you probably know this, Jeff Bezos originally wanted to call amazon relentless.com. That’s serious; completely factual. Today, nearly 30 years since the company’s founding, if you go to relentless.com, you’re going to end up on Amazon’s homepage. They own this to this day, literally and figuratively. They care that much.
That same Adobe study I referenced a moment ago showed that industry leaders are nearly four times more likely to bring deep customer understanding into their experience design than companies that lag. They’re putting enormous, enormous efforts around this.
Be There. Be Useful. Be Quick.
And these attributes, this idea of being easily available, highly functional, fast, and customer focused, appear again and again and again among the companies winning your customer’s business. You’ve probably seen Google had a framework that they have used for a long time about how to improve mobile experiences and said, be there, be useful, be quick.
The reality is that regardless of whether people are on mobile or on their desktop or on tablet, or they’re using a smart device, or they’re using a smart speaker, they still want the same thing. They want you to be there. They want you to be useful. They want you to be quick. They want you to help solve their problem when they need you to, and then they want to you to let them get back to their lives.
It’s Not About Technology; It’s About Business
And so if you look at the companies who are leading in digital, they don’t make technology decisions. They make customer experience decisions. The AGFAM — Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft — make their technology and innovation investments by listening to customers and placing their bets on how best to help them throughout their journey.
You know, today, it’s mobile. Tomorrow it could be something else. They’re not developing a technology strategy. They’re developing a business strategy that recognize how customers’ needs have changed and developing what’s necessary to meet those needs. Even things like the new Bing and ChatGPT and all that fun stuff are really just new ways of saying how do we help customers get answers to the questions that they have?
It’s not, "Ooh, this is cool!" It’s about "how is this useful?" And I guarantee you I can prove that. Because if it’s not useful, it’s not going to be around in 12 months time. The reason people get so excited about these technologies is because they’re incredibly useful, even despite the limitations that I’ve talked about in the last handful of weeks and months. They’re not just cool, they’re helpful.
That’s what you want to be. You want to be helpful. Helpful is the new cool. It’s what your customers want. You have to think like Big Tech does. You have to think like the AGFAM does and be relentless.
Where Do You Begin?
So where do you get started. Well, like any good strategy you have to take a look at where do you want to go?
Paint a vivid picture.
- What would the best experience you can give your customers look like? Look at what other people are doing. What are the best experiences you have day to day? Paint that picture of what that would look like in your business. Take a very, very clear-eyed assessment of where you are right now.
- What do you know about what your customers want? What do you know about your customers generally? What data do you have about their preferred shopping, buying, and customer service channels? And this is true whether you’re B2B or B2C.
- How are customers using digital to make their decisions? How successful are you at helping them at each touchpoint they have during their journey?
Use Your Search Data
You have an immense amount of data at your fingertips to understand the customer’s needs really clearly. You can look at your own website analytics and you can do things like use website search data to understand the questions your customers ask.
- Do you know what the most common queries are on your website search?
- What are potential customers looking for? Do you know what matters to them?
I’ve seen research that shows that website visitors who search are between 40% and 600% more likely to purchase than those that don’t. This is across an array of industries, by the way. I want to be clear. They’re not buying because they’re searching. They’re searching because they want to buy. They’re saying, "Please help me." You should listen to them. If you want your website to be a 24/7/365 salesperson, if you want it to be a 24/7/365 customer service rep, you should listen to the things your customers are asking for.
Review Your Content
Take a look at your contents effectiveness at answering those question.
When visitors use your site search, or when they come in from a Google search, do they stick around or do they leave? Do they click through to the right page? Do they engage with your content and connect with your calls to action? Or do they go back to the search results, looking for a better answer? Or worst of all, do they leave all together?
Assess Your Competition… All of Them
These are answers that are available to you today. When you’re also looking at where you are right now, take a look at what your competitors do. Define your competitors more thoroughly, though. It’s not just the companies you think, it’s the experiences customers have everywhere. You want to learn to become a connoisseur of customer experience in your day-to-day life. Keep note of the best experiences you have.
Look At Your Customer Experience Gaps
Now, once you’ve taken a look at these, look at the gaps within your organization.
- Does your team have the knowledge and the skills and the incentives to address customer needs appropriately?
- Have you created and curated the right content to answer customers’ questions?
- Is that content easily accessible to your customers regardless of device or channel?
- Do your existing tools make the customer experience more pleasant or more painful?
Act like a customer. Take the time to conduct a thorough review of where you are today so that you can best identify the gaps in the overall customer experience.
When was the last time you tried to do one of the activities that your customers do? What does that feel like when you try to accomplish it? How long does it take? How many clicks does it take? How many different pages do you have to view? And this is true whether you’re on your website or you’re on a mobile app. What does it feel like? Is it pleasant or is it painful?
This can be a sobering experience for many folks. Every time I go on my website, I’m like, "oh gosh, I need to fix that, and I need to fix that, and I need to fix that, and I need to fix that." We have a laundry list of things to fix on the website all the time.
Prioritize Your Experience Efforts
What you need to do is prioritized closing the highest impact gaps right away. I’m also a huge believer in "who, not how." What vendors, what partners, what products exist to help you get to market quickly and easily? Don’t just assess existing partners. Take a look at new entrants who may have a fresh approach to the situation.
You may end up partnering with Apple or Google or Facebook or Amazon or Microsoft or partners they’ve invested in. Despite all my warnings about them, it’s not tragic. If you understand how you’re going to work with them in the near term and further into the future. Use them to solve the problems that you can’t solve on your own more efficiently or effectively.
But also look for people who can help you minimize your dependency on any one provider.
You Can Even Use ChatGPT
I don’t know if you know this, you can even implement ChatGPT today on your website. There are WordPress and Drupal plugins that allow you to connect. You need to get an API key, you need to set up an account. But once you have that, you could actually use ChatGPT to create a chatbot on your site today. I’m not saying you should, it may not be the most necessary thing to do. I’m saying it’s possible right now, and if you are not doing it, I bet somebody else is.
Conclusion: Digital Marketing Trends — Customer Experience is Cool
At the end of the day, it comes back to asking yourself continually, relentlessly, how you’re doing in terms of creating a better, more differentiated experience for your customers. Evaluate new tools to see if they can help drive an improved customer experience. Assess your team’s success at driving increased ratings and reviews, greater website or mobile app app traffic, increased conversions, increased revenue, and improved operating income. This isn’t about the tech, it’s about your business and your customers and how you can move forward together.
So yes, generative AI and ChatGPT and the new Bing and everything Google announced, and all that, that’s all cool. But what’s most cool is treating your customers like they matter. What’s most cool is helping your customers solve their problems quickly, easily, and allowing them to get on with their lives. That’s what cool is, that’s what customer experience is, and that’s why customer experience is still the queen.
I’m very confident, I’d be willing to bet a pretty substantial chunk of money, that the companies that will succeed in the future aren’t the ones who deploy new technologies first or deploy new technologies fastest. They’ll be the ones who use new technologies and current technologies to help their customer. Because the customers don’t care about the technology they care about their lives. Are you helping them throughout their day? And if you do that, you’re not just going to win today. You’re going to win for a long time to come.
Show Closing and Credits
Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to timpeter.com/podcasts. Again, that’s timpeter.com/podcasts.
Just look for episode 376.
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