…in conversation with Janice B. Gordon
Brands today, both traditional and new-age, are embracing the era of digitisation and adopt a mobile-first approach. The difference between success and failure can often boil down to understanding your customers, holistically.
Only when brands harness all the customer-specific data available to them, can marketers hope to engage with diverse customer segments in the most personalised, relevant, and timely manner possible. When customers receive exactly what they desire, brands position themselves to deliver better customer experiences.
I caught up with Janice B. Gordon, a multi-award-winning Entrepreneur, Consultant, Educator, and Bestselling Author, to get her thoughts on the same. A Sage Top 100 Global Business Influencer, 2017, Janice has over 30 years of business experience, having consulted for high-growth companies across the globe.
Janice is currently working on her second book, Scale Your Sales that highlights a systematic approach for brands to develop, maintain, and grow their most valuable customer relationships for lifetime partnership.
Here’s what Janice had to say about how businesses today can deliver superior customer experiences at scale:
Hi Janice! It’s great to hear from you. We appreciate you taking the time to share your insights with the larger sales and marketing community! While the customer has always been king, this becomes far more critical in today’s competitive business environment. What’s your take on the same?
The customer is still king. However, the tools used to serve the discerning customers’ needs have changed.
We live in an information-rich world but insight-poor environment. Buyers and customers are overwhelmed with the open access information and what they demand is insight. More often it’s the people and not the data that provides this interpretation and insight. You cannot funnel people through processes without providing personality and engagement, personalised to the specific customer preferences.
Marketers today need to focus on gaining actionable insights on their customers’ diverse behaviours across both online and offline channels. Brands will be able to deliver more satisfactory experiences consistently only when they have a unified view of their customers.
How important is it to provide a seamless online and offline customer experience?
Whether it is across offline or online channels, buyers and customers expect personalised engagement, whenever they choose to access your services. Above all, the interaction must be easy and seamless catering to today’s multi-channel and cross-device environment.
Customers now engage over multiple platforms and expect consistency across these platforms and accessible ease of use. Customers do not want fancy bells and whistles; they want ease, and importantly, customers reward those brands, who get it right, with their loyalty.
Having understood their customer-specific preferences, brands need to ensure that advanced data insights are leveraged to the maximum to bridge the gap between online and offline channels. What a brand eventually delivers has to ensure there’s no disparity across both physical and digital platforms.
That makes a lot of sense! In today’s digital era, how can brands adopt a mobile app-first approach to deliver better customer experiences?
Mobile is no longer an isolated channel of customer acquisition, engagement, and monetisation. It has rapidly emerged as the primary choice of customers in connecting all the other channels and available platforms, legitimately linking offline and online.
While this has been true for developed economies for a while now, the rapid adoption of smartphones and improved data connectivity in emerging economies is also fuelling this reality.
Superior customer experience on mobile will deliver the competitive advantage brands are looking for, as this is still a weak link in many brands’ customer experience and value delivery chain.
While creating a mobile-first and mobile-supported customer experience brands must focus on:
- Creating an app that reflects the parent brand personality and becomes an additional value-driven functional benefit. There’s no point creating an app just for the sake of it. For brands that are mobile-first anyway, focus is easier to maintain
- Drive easy discoverability and visibility to fuel faster customer acquisition through an effective App Store Optimisation (ASO) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy
- Ensure easier interactions with both mobile apps and mobile sites. For this brands need to adopt a data-driven strategy that places emphasis on customers’ in-app and digital behaviours to craft personalised engagement strategies. Brands also need to seek continuous customer feedback to improve their mobile platforms
- Optimise for evolving trends such as voice search and the application of Machine Learning to provide highly differentiated customer experiences backed by the power of marketing automation
Do you think brands, today, are adequately leveraging the data at their disposal optimally? What can brands do to improve their data management and analysis?
According to Aberdeen Research, only 15% of organisations are fully satisfied with their ability to utilise data to make informed decisions in managing customer conversations. Then 85% are still capturing and storing information in disparate systems.
In order to deliver exceptional customer experiences, brands require a unified view of individual customers journeys. Using Master Data Management (MDM) and a comprehensive Customer Data Platform (CDP), organisations can eliminate data silos and build consistent, Omni channel interactions with their customers. Brands need to start with the end in mind, the final conversion event.
After mapping the customer journey, brands need to identify what channels of engagement work best with what segments of the target audience.
The objective must always be to leverage data intelligently so that the right message is delivered to the right customer through the right channel at just the right time.
The focus for marketers has rapidly shifted towards Relationship Marketing. How can brands foster deeper customer connections?
People use the same principles to evaluate both personal and business relationships. Customers expect personalised, one-to-one interactions with brands because no one wants to feel like a number or interact with a robot.
Critically, first impressions determine whether or not a brand’s potential customer will willingly become your actual customer. Customer preferences will evolve; therefore, brands must stay close to their customers, to evaluate the variances in behaviour, to adapt, to remain relevant and to grow faster with their most valued and loyal customers.
If brands can succeed in delivering highly personalised, customised, and timely engagement, then trusted customer relationships can be forged at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Engagement strategies would vary for every stage and there can’t be a fix-it-and-forget-it approach.
Brands now want to reach millions of customers across multiple channels such as push notifications, web messages, email, or SMS using marketing automation. What can brands do to personalise their communication to maximise their ROI?
Brands need to accept that they can’t reach millions of customers across multiple platforms with the same message and still expect it to have the desired reach and penetration.
Communication must be tailor-made to customers’ demographic, geographic, behavioural, and device-related data points. The more personalised the brand communication to the targeted profile in the segment, the higher the ROI and better the chances of satisfying customer experience expectations.
Do not PUSH! Brands need to harness smart data to accurately identify customer intent and allow them to “PULL” from your multiple channels. One-to-one marketing offers a proven method to improve response rates and retention rates. Customer segmentation and data mining give marketers the ability to leverage technology and take multi-channel engagement campaigns to an unprecedented level.
According to you, how closely are sales and marketing related? How can B2C brands leverage Social Selling to their advantage?
The relationship between sales and marketing will depend on the following:
- Whether B2B or B2C
- Type of industry and sector of function
- High value or transactional orders
- Whether primarily online or offline business
Social media marketing is about delivering content to a customer group or market segment, whereas social selling refers to the meaningful interaction between the brand and salespeople and individuals, whether potential or existing customers.
Brands need to select the right platform and tools to engage with the right customers on their preferred channels for engagement.
If the interaction is a crucial element of the B2C customer journey, then bespoke agencies like Scale Your Sales help companies create a social selling strategy to deliver targeted smart communication for B2B most valued customers.
Brands often make the mistake of trying to both sell and build relationships at the same time. This is like a positive and negative charge that will neutralise each other and create little impact. Both strategies have to be separate, while they will have a connection, however, one is not dependent on the other.
Could you highlight some companies, at the top of your mind, that has consistently succeeded in delivering exceptional customer experiences?
At the top of my mind, brands that have succeeded in delivering great customer experiences over a long period of time, pivoting on their engagement strategies, include:
- Dollar Shave Company
- Ritz Carlton
All these brands have dedicated a lot of time and resources to truly understanding their target audience, their various personas and preferences. The manner in which these companies are now leveraging the power of AI to strengthen their recommendation engines has also simplified the lives of their customers across mobile and digital channels.
It’s been an absolute pleasure interacting with you, Janice. Thank you once again for sharing some great insights. Any parting thoughts?
Thank you for having me, Pradyut. I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts with Smartech.
Every brand has a unique personality as do their customers. One size doesn’t fit all, never has and never will. The world today is connected like never before and mobile is spearheading that convergence. Intelligent data translates into relevant insights.
And, these insights lay the foundation for smarter conversations and interactions, finally delivering superior customer experiences.
To learn how AI-powered marketing automation can help deliver amazing customer experiences, get in touch, today!