Memorable customer experience is key to business growth

 Ipsos senior research Emily Were. [Courtesy]

We are in October, that month of the year when organisations celebrate customer service as a crucial culture by recognising their outstanding employees and appreciating clients for their support.

Many businesses are aware that if well executed, activities lined up for customer service month can lead to stronger teams, formidable customer connections, and ultimately better returns on investments. Indeed, a focus on customer service during this period can impact heavily on a company’s brand reputation.

Some organisations are also using this period to endear themselves to local communities by engaging them through charitable activities or community service. It is therefore not a just a time to reinforce a business commitment not only to customers but also the broader community.

If your customers are treated to positive experiences at this time, there are higher chances that they will become more loyal and even recommend the company to others.

A unique and memorable brand experience can also set a company apart from its rivals. That is why many businesses are inventing new ways to improve brand customer experience. But brand experience goes beyond customer service.

It encompasses all the feelings consumers have before, during and after interacting with a brand. It is a holistic approach that combines elements of user experience, customer experience and brand identity in one wrap.

Brands grow when they are bought by more people, more easily and more often. This is not just about growing customer base, nurturing existing customers, and getting them to use a brand more often, it is also about minimising outflow of customers that may prefer to use other brands instead.

For brands to achieve this, organisations must know precisely how to forge the strongest bonds with customers, whilst ensuring the delivery of prime customer experiences. This will not only enable brands to better retain existing customers but also to better acquire new customers for robust growth.

Positive customer experiences improve levels of advocacy, even amongst those with weak desire, and recent studies further demonstrate the importance of good customer experience in building strong relationships.

If companies can create a lasting positive impression among potential customers, they can drive sales and set the stage for long-term loyalty. Not only is delivery of good customer experience important for driving the brand relationship, but it also provides an opportunity to strengthen the brand.

Brands across a spectrum of sectors, including but not limited to market research, services, finance, telecommunications, tech, and retail, are now using experience to create spaces for customers and their brands to connect more deeply, with the aim of building stronger relationships and ultimately securing long-term profitability.

For true competitive advantage today, organisations need to design and deliver experiences that go beyond the transactional. One of the key success factors in this is to make sure that brand and customer experience resonate - that customer experience delivers on the brand promise and reinforces the key values that a brand stands for.

When brands consistently fail to deliver on what they promise, customer relationships begin to erode and can fail over time, which leads to customer defection, and ultimately ‘fewer people’. Conversely, when the experience consistently reinforces the brand promise, perception becomes more grounded, customers grow closer, and they use the brand more frequently.

To shape positive memories and outcomes, we need to be aware of the key experiential forces that drive strong and lasting relationships.

Research by Ipsos shows that to drive stronger relationships with customers and to reduce outflow of customers, brands need to deliver on their promises. The signals a brand sends and the experience it offers customers are inextricably linked.

If there is a gap between what the brand says and what it does, customer expectations are violated, and attitudinal and behavioural adjustments can follow. It is clear therefore that these marketing instruments need to work together harmoniously to maximise the influence on brand choice.

However, it should be noted that building a positive brand experience should not be limited to October. It is an investment in the long-term growth of a business as it contributes to sustainable success and not just short-term sales.

At Ipsos, we help organisations to integrate brand and customer experience in a way that allows for synergy and strategic insights that shape experiences which fulfil customers’ fundamental needs. We collect data, analyse customer feedback, and provide insights and recommendations that is used to enhance and create meaningful customer experiences.

Companies that successfully implement a customer experience strategy achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn and increased revenues. Firms therefore need tools that can help them analyse customer behaviour and take real-time actions to improve customer experience.

This will help them to connect with their customers with personalised and relevant messages as they need assistance, support, offer, or any other interaction.

Customer experience is an integral part of customer relationship management and is important because a customer who has a positive experience with a business is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer.

Companies that deliver a superior customer experience outperform their competitors.

- The writer is a senior research manager at Ipsos in Kenya