Guest Blogger

James Bolle, Head of Client Services EMEA at leading customer experience business InMoment, shares his thoughts on the need for greater brand personalisation.

Today’s customers want personal and reciprocal relationships with brands. What this means might surprise you.

Our report, 2017 CX Trends, includes insights from 20,000 consumers and 10,000 CX leaders across 12 countries. We found some fascinating insights about personalisation and about the emotional response to customer experience.

Firstly, we can see clearly that personalisation is not just a marketing function: consumers prioritise personalised support and purchase experiences above customised adverts. The best brands understand that today’s consumer wants to be known and cared for at an individual level, throughout the customer journey. Amazon has built its reputation for knowing customers better than they know themselves by offering suggested purchases based on previous searches. But you don’t need data to offer a personalised experience, just colleagues that are interested in customers, ask the right questions, and listen to their replies. This is what the cosmetics retailer Lush does, and does really well, when recommending products. Rather than pushing sale or new items, they ask diagnostic questions of the customer before making a recommendation.

Secondly, we learned about customers’ emotional response when they get a great customer experience. The word they use is “satisfied”, and they talk about being happy, and loyal, when they believe that brands have delivered what they promised. One Canadian consumer summed it up this way: “I could actually get the advertised sale item without any pressure to upgrade.”

Brands often misunderstand this and aim for stronger emotions such as feeling “part of something special” in order to reach the “great experience” level.

We saw some variations in consumer and brand perception in some geographies. For example, many brands assumed that German consumers prefer a functional and practical customer experience. Our data show that efficiency isn’t the only thing they value and, in fact, German consumers are far more likely to use stronger words like ‘excited’ and ‘entertained’ to describe great experiences than their global counterparts.

That brands over-estimate the importance of delivering “something special” and German consumers rate entertainment as more important than other countries surveyed highlights the need for brands to stop taking a one-size-fits all approach to customer experience. The big take-away here is that brands must understand what their customers expect, and map customer journeys to deliver that. Surprises and treats in the experience are therefore welcome, but they must enhance what is delivered, not be offered as a replacement for the basics.

The discipline of CX has quickly matured into a sophisticated lever for accelerating business performance. Today’s consumers want more human interactions with brands. Organisations everywhere have the opportunity to leverage this valuable understanding to reach new heights and own, if not redefine, their competitive market position. They should take it.

The full 2017 CX Trends report can be downloaded here.

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