By Geoff Galat
2017 was the year that brands truly embraced ‘experience’, with Customer Experience, User Experience and even Brand Experience all becoming common terms within both the marketing and tech industries.
With so many different forms of experience, it’s easy to wonder whether marketers and brands really know the difference between them? How can they, when so many of us still struggle to even define ‘experience’ itself?
Officially, experience is defined as “the interaction between a subject and a stimulus that is influenced by personal interpretation.” The key part being ‘personal interpretation’ – the idea that experience is, by nature, a fluid and largely subjective notion, so it is no surprise that marketers struggle to define and perfect their customer experiences. What is considered an exceptional experience by one customer might be seen as average, or even poor, service by another. This is the problem with brands attempting to rigidly define their customer experiences, as the quality of the experience often relies on the mood of the customer, and not just the quality of a particular product or service.
While it seems impossible to predict exactly what a customers’ daily demands are, the development of Experience Analytics tools has made it increasingly possible to predict customer moods, improve their journeys, and ensure that the maximum number of people leave the shopping experience with a positive view that resonates with them.
With that in mind, here are three ways brands can begin making an impact and defining their experiences online:
Step #1: Build personas
Brands must start to accept that most of the interactions customers have with them are largely subjective. Both a customer’s fixed personality traits and changing moods can drastically influence the way that they perceive their experiences with a brand.
This means they must do their best to understand what a typical customer looks like, how they shop, and how they think. An understanding of the company’s target audience, converted into a detailed persona, will help tailor experiences to appeal to the majority of a brands’ shoppers. With geographic, demographic and even psychographic data, details as specific as optimum email distribution time, website navigations, and in-store display messages can be fine-tuned to maximise the experience of the end-customer.
Step #2: Think about online customer behaviour
Once an experience strategy has been devised based on the target audience, the next challenge lies in predicting specific shopping moods. Personalisation has previously offered a relatively useful response to fluid behaviours, but a more human approach is still required if brands are to take their experiences to the next level. By collecting real-time data, both on-site and in-store, brands can start to transition away from more traditional ecommerce metrics and begin to understand the more subtle aspects of customers’ online behaviour. These aspects can include everything from subtle cues such as mouse movements right through to eye-tracking and ‘rage clicks’ (frustratedly clicking on content over and over). These ‘Experience Analytics’ metrics are perfect for developing a much more in-depth and human understanding of customers.
Step #3: Develop guidelines
Brands have long-since offered guidelines outlining things like company colour schemes, fonts and logo usage rights. Now however, many customer experience experts have argued that brands must look to develop a new playbook, specifically for defining their brand experiences.
Insights stemming from customer behaviour profiling on websites, and in apps, can be used to create detailed guidelines helping to explain the feelings and behaviours that consumers should walk away with whenever they’ve interacted with a brand.
By adopting the techniques outlined above, marketers, retailers and brands can ensure that they are providing the best possible customer services and experiences. By understanding the subjective nature of the experiences, they seek to develop, marketers can improve customer relationships, build loyalty, increase sales, and ultimately provide a better experience for both customers and brands.
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