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Is your customer experience like a 60m long, 10-level access ramp?

Posted Friday 28 March 2014
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Customers have functional and emotional needs. The brands that create the best customer experiences get the balance right between serving these different needs.

But often, I find, brands serve my functional needs, but under-deliver on the emotional side. This recent case from Scotland illustrates the point perfectly. After a mom spent two years campaigning for improved wheelchair access to her house for her daughter, the council built this. That’s right, the council decided the answer to the mom’s functional access challenge was a 60m long, 10-level, $60,000 ramp that has obliterated the front yard of the property.

To make matters worse the council doesn’t even see this as a problem! In the report the council makes it clear they feel they have solved the functional access issue: “This led to the installation of the wheelchair ramp as requested by the family.”

For the council, there is no emotional consideration, despite the all too obvious emotional reaction to encountering their creation.

The example perfectly illustrates why it is so important for brands to account for both the emotional and functional needs of their audiences when designing experiences, or solving functional problems. For great customer experiences there are three questions brands need to address for every customer interaction:

  1. What is the customer doing?
  2. What are the customer’s needs?
  3. What is the customer’s perception of what’s happening?

The first two questions are potentially functional in nature. But the piece that stops function overriding all other concerns is the crucial third question. Perception is all about the emotion and feeling of an experience.

It is only by asking ourselves what people will think of our decisions and how they will feel, that we will stop yard-destroying ramps being constructed.

Three broken email customer experiences and how to fix them

Posted Monday 17 March 2014
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At its core, email is customer experience. Customer experience happens every time your customer engages with your brand: in any channel, anywhere, anytime. And email is on the frontline of that experience. It is a direct touch point between you and your customer. Every email received from you contributes to your customer’s experience and perception of your brand.

But looking through my inbox recently I’m struck by how many brands still seem to think email has nothing to do with customer experience. So, what’s going wrong and how can we fix it?

1. Irrelevancy

We all hate it when brands get our details and situations wrong – when they try to sell us the product we already have, when they misspell our name, when they forget we’ve been a customer for a long time.

Email is a channel where too many brands quickly undermine their claims to “understand” their customers by sending irrelevant content and offers to their customers, creating that poor, impersonal customer experience we all dislike. And what it comes down to is a failure to respond to data.

So, for a better customer experience, stop being irrelevant. Get the data you need to segment your lists. Be as detailed as possible. Then make sure you respond to that data with the content and offers you email to your customers.

2. Failing to understand or respond to context

The key here is recognizing that customers also receive your emails in the context of their wider engagement with your brand – their use, purchase patterns, products, service – and that this affects the experience your customers expect.

An example. Recently I received an email from my bank inviting me to renew my mortgage. I followed the link to complete the renewal online, and was greeted by a form that took no account of the fact I am already a customer. Why, given I already have my mortgage with the bank, would they frustrate and irritate me by asking me to fill in my name, income, address etc again and essentially treat me like a new customer who they know nothing about? What my bank hasn’t done is map how my journey as a customer affects what I expect from their content and therefore what their content should be.

To ensure a better customer experience than this, the first thing you’ll need to do is map the customer journey. To this you’ll need to map where and when content and offers are most relevant and, crucially, irrelevant. Then map your segment profiles to this and you’ll be on the way to making sure each of your customers is getting the email that is most valuable for them.

3. Failing to meet expectations

We’ve all signed up for email programs that have either turned out to be little more than spam, or simply haven’t delivered the content we were expecting. The fundamental problem in both cases is the brands have failed to meet the expectations they set.

So, if you promise subscribers one email a month, no matter how tempting it might be to squeeze in one more offer, don’t… or you just become spam.

And under delivering is just as frustrating as over delivering. We’ve all signed up for the email newsletter that promises a monthly email and seen the brand sustain their own interest for two or three issues. But then the timing slips, there was a delay, it’s six weeks, then one gets missed altogether because someone’s on vacation. And we, as the subscriber are left feeling underwhelmed, and disappointed in the brand.

Fixing the customer experience breakdown isn’t complex but it does take discipline. When a customer signs up for your email program, be clear about what they will receive, how often and where the emails will come from. Then stick to your own rules.

Boomers kicking butt

Posted Thursday 6 December 2012
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Boomers may not be the new kid on the block, but that doesn’t stop them from outspending their generational counterparts. As reports, U.S. boomers hold 70% of disposable income. The research also reports that 71% of boomers go online every day. But as eMarketer reports, boomers are more likely to complete online tasks that mirror their offline behavior. Sharing and archiving photos, for instance, is a natural habit most boomers are used to doing offline; the digital space makes that activity more efficient. But ask a boomer to update their online status and you may get a few funny looks.


The insight
: When crafting digital experiences for boomers makes sure they add value and are an extension of their offline behavior.

Sources: Pew Internet, Deloitte, Forrester Research, GfK, MRI, Nielsen and BoomerAgers August 2012 Report

Why valuable content has to be useful (because I’m hungry)

Posted Wednesday 14 November 2012
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Can you suggest any good places to eat?

Of course you can. But you don’t know whether I’m asking for a special occasion, if I’m looking for somewhere quick and cheap to go with the kids, whether I want something formal or more relaxed, or even what kind of food I prefer. Read More

Arguing for a B2B marketing argument

Posted Thursday 4 October 2012
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I love a good argument... and honestly it can be about pretty much anything, I will happily argue with you about almost any topic. Read More

Why do people use Pinterest?

Posted Monday 10 September 2012
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What’s really motivating Pinterest users? That’s the topic of a fascinating piece by Carina Chocano in the The New York Times called “Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’.” Read More

Context – Empathy – Experience: Confab goes customer

Posted Thursday 17 May 2012
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All your content efforts will be a waste of time if you don’t first figure out some details about your customers. It’s a message that was front and centre yesterday at Confab.

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Get agreement on your customer: Confab 2012

Posted Tuesday 15 May 2012
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I originally started writing this halfway through day one at Confab. After a couple of sessions the theme that’s standing out is how important it is to secure buy-in to the foundations of your content program from across your organization.

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Why technology is only half the battle

Posted Monday 7 May 2012
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We’re stuck in a rut when it comes to technology and social media innovation according to Alexis Madrigal’s blog over at the Atlantic. He argues that we keep relying on the same old same old. Take for instance Pinterest. At first glance a great idea but, he says, dig a little deeper and it becomes clear it’s just another photo sharing site.

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The end of SEO? Changes to fight over-optimization, embrace semantic search and social influence

Posted Wednesday 4 April 2012
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New changes to Google’s much coveted search algorithm is going to force marketers to pay closer attention to their content. The changes will reward sites who place a greater emphasis on creating, curating and managing useful and interesting content, which means content strategy is key for organizations that are looking to improve their overall search rank. Read More

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