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It’s no secret that digital transformation has upended the way brands navigate marketing their products and services to their customers. And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, customers have become innately more comfortable in a digital-first environment. According to Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer”, 83% of customers want brands to offer existing products and services online, with 53% wanting brands to expand their experiences into new engagement methods and channels. This has also given rise to what Mckinsey pens as a “shock to loyalty”, with a staggering 75% of consumers switching brands or trying new ways to buy or consume.

Suffice to say, being online simply isn’t enough anymore to be successful in a post-pandemic economy. In response, over 88% of brands have turned to a focus on customer experience (CX) to better understand and navigate the dizzying amount of touchpoints and complexity brands and marketers face. By focusing on experience outcomes like overall satisfaction, research shows that brands can increase their revenue up to 15% whilst decreasing customer service costs by 20%. Often though, brands get lost in understanding how to leverage CX to transform their brand (or even just where to start). If that’s you or your brand, here’s three fundamental ways to kickstart your organisation into being more centred around the customer and their experience of your brand.

1. “Tell the story – and stick to it.”

Disney is perhaps one of the best storyteller brands in existence. On upholding Walt Disney’s vision of “making magical experiences come alive,” Jody Jean Dreyer, a former Disney senior vice president, recounts how she and her team made that possible for over 30 years. “It’s people, it’s story, and it’s attention to detail … The core essence never changes,” says Dreyer. “Everyone and every brand is telling a story, [therefore] you need to know and own your story.”

If you’re unsure about what your organisation’s story is, it’s always best to start with why. As Simon Sinek famously wrote, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Identifying your purpose and following Sinek’s golden circle formula is a great way to establish the core values you want to channel to both customers and employees alike. In Disney’s case, by aligning its teams to its core vision that ultimately drives customer retention, it empowers staff to deliver on Walt’s mission. This creates life-long emotional connections with customers, netting their resorts a 70% return rate.

2. Really understand the customer’s journey

Qantas continues to receive widespread backlash about its handling of flight delays and serves as a reminder of how a brand can suffer when it doesn’t understand a customer’s pain. As The Guardian notes, with over a century of brand equity, when Qantas gets it wrong, customers don’t just feel disappointed, they feel betrayed. So how does Qantas brass begin to formulate a plan that gets to the root of the problem? When it comes to customer experience, it often starts with mapping out the customer’s journey.

At a recent guest lecture at The University of Queensland, Bartley Hassall from 3rd View walked MBA candidates through some of its processes for understanding and transforming a customer’s journey. Their website notes that “the true value of customer journey mapping comes through the conversations and stories shared as the journey

unfolds.” By understanding where the paint points occur, effective solutions can be rapidly prototyped and tested.

Without journey mapping, leaders are often left scrambling for solutions to problems that may not work. In the case of Qantas, a drop in spending from its most loyal customers may not be because their frequent flyer lounges aren’t luxurious enough. Instead, it might be simply because the wait on the phone is too long. By taking the time to understand the customer’s journey, 3rd View suggests that brands can improve their customer service tenfold and deliver 200% greater employee engagement.

3. If it’s not personalised it doesn’t matter.

A recent McKinsey article notes that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised experiences, and 76% are frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Personalisation influences buying behaviour and creates a flywheel effect through customer life cycles. By personalising experiences, 78% of consumers are more likely to recommend, purchase and repurchase.

This means that leveraging data is crucial for creating the 40% above-average revenue growth that Mckinsey suggests is possible. Think Netflix’s “because you watched” section or Facebook’s often suspiciously accurate advertising – by creating offers and suggestions based on user behaviour data, brands can deliver experiences that drive long-term loyalty.

The Key Takeaway.

Ultimately, thinking about customer experience is the new way to leverage the data you have to build your brand in a post-pandemic world. When you start thinking about your brand’s purpose, you can begin to really practice what you preach, and when you don’t, focusing on experience paint points gets you back on track with your customers. Finally, when you get it right and the experience feels unique to your customers, these three steps begin to work together to create results for your brand that are greater than the sum of their parts.

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