Customer experience is king – but marketers still struggle to understand the needs and wants of their audience

The below is taken from the 2016 Experian Marketer Report available in full here.

In a world that is increasingly connected, customers expect real and authentic interactions with brands.

To meet these demands, customer-centric brands are shifting the way they think about “customers”  to start thinking of them as people; people who have real lives, relationships and desires rather than numbers that consist simply of views, clicks or transactions.

Brands that can deliver on these customer expectations know the people who buy and use their  products at a deeper, more intimate level. This knowledge goes beyond standard demographics like gender, age or income to include their needs, wants and attitudes.

How do these people spend their time? How do they engage with your brand and with other brands? How do they behave as individuals; not just members of a specific demographic?

The contrasting needs and attitudes of the two individuals in the example below are indicative of this. A message that resonates with one may be completely lost on the other even though according to more traditional segmentation methods they are practically identical.

Of course, there is 100% still a place for traditional segmentation techniques – marketers just have to use other data sources alongside them to get a more complete picture of their customers.  We need a more thorough understanding of our customers than ever before. Fortunately with the number of devices and the hyper-connected nature of modern people there is much more data available for analysis.

According to the recent 2016 Digital Marketer Report 38% of marketers rate knowing their customers’ needs, wants and desires among the top three challenges they face.

Corroborating this a little more than half (52%) of marketers named enhancing their knowledge of the customer one of their top three priorities.

The future of marketing is driven by sophisticated, hyper-connected, consumers who expect exceptional experiences every time. Given the plethora of choice available to consumers it is customer experience that has become the differentiator. Brands have to work that much harder to win customer loyalty, purchase-by-purchase and engagement-by- engagement.

To stand out, today’s marketers must take a deep dive into their customers’ individual preferences and purchase paths to customise the experience around their unique and evolving needs.

I am a firm believer that you’re only as good as your last interaction, so it’s incredibly important to always get it right. If you don’t give your customer an exceptional experience, there are hundreds of other companies that will. Consumers will continue to change. New purchase channels will emerge, existing customers will have new needs and life moments that will change their preferences and, and new generations of consumers will emerge introducing new trends and opportunities for engagement.

To keep up – and stay one step ahead – we need to adapt and build our businesses to support the customer experience.

This starts with asking yourself four questions

  1. Do we have confidence in how we define our best customer?
  2. Do we have a centralised database where we can analyse behaviour from every channel?
  3. Are our incentive structures and organisational silos dictating the customer’s experience or are they forced to conform to channel-specific P&L structures?
  4. How easily can the customer navigate and interact with our brand regardless of channel?

This is a sample from the 2016 Experian Marketer Report available in full here.

Experian Marketing Services helps bring brands and customers closer together.  Using our own industry data and analytical expertise we can help businesses build up an accurate and actionable understanding of their customers and using the Experian Marketing Suite technology, accurately engage with them.