Contributor: Pilar Roch. COO ideas4all Innovation
As we mentioned on other occasions, the consumer is at the center of brand strategy, mainly because consumer behavior has changed and brands are looking to adapt to this change.
The new consumer uses the digital world to go shopping and look for information. They are more demanding and informed, because the have many options to choose from and can do so easily, from anywhere, with a couple of clicks and while also comparing competing products. Their interaction with brands also transcends the physical store in all sectors, regardless of the type of product on offer.
Which is why their relationships with brands are increasingly more like an affair, rather than a solid romance. And brands look for new resources that can help them strengthen that commitment. One of these resources is improving the customer experience (Cx) at all levels, from the moment the consumer discovers the product to the time he or she buys it, the first step having a significant impact on the latter.
Generating value along that entire chain is a priority on a physical, but especially digital level; because that is where buying cycles become shorter and competition is greatest…or, rather, colossal: global and equally-matched competition between large companies and small.
All this makes appropriate management essential in order for user experience to touch on all areas of the customer journey map for our current or potential clients. A good product will not be enough to conquer loyal clients, although that still remains fundamental. Loyalty is also a felling and we want our client to feel valued, part of the brand; we want our client to identify with the brand’s image and values. Promoting a culture of customer centricity is vital for this and the digital world is a great accelerator for this culture.
The following graphic shows an example of the customer journey map for a company in the insurance sector, starting with the customer’s first contact with the brand, continuing with an insurance policy being taken out and ending with its renewal.
Companies, like our insurance company in the example, want the customer’s journey to be the least tedious and hazardous as possible. This, in simple terms, means shortening the period of time from point 1 to 12 and, as we mentioned, calling at the customer’s door at every step: making his or her passage from one point to the next easy, listening to him or her and helping with any bumps along the road. But, above all, we want them to feel their journey was worthwhile and leave consumers wanting to do it again. Thus, the objective for brands should be to optimize the client’s experience in each of the moments when they make contact with the brand.
Fundamental to this is a continuous one-on-one (peer-to-peer) communication with the brand. So much so that there are many customer profiles, such as millenials, who now demand this communication, as it is part of their modus vivendi in the digital era. Younger generations want to be heard and they even want to participate in the fate of their favorite brands.
Two-way listening and co-creation with our clients
Active listening programs (customer listening programs) or programs for co-creation with clients, like those we offer in ideas4all Innovation, are a great ally in this mission and have an impact, as we will see in the following graphic, on all aspects of the user’s journey.
They influence the consumer’s knowledge of the brand and the brand’s marketing, by activating new channels for listening and participation that make a company stand out before their competitors. A good customer experience in this first stage gives value to our brand, makes its offer known and makes onboarding the client easier and more dynamic. Knowing beforehand if a brand is prepared to listen to you and better cater to your needs is a new selling point that becomes another differentiating element for a product or service, and can become a competitive advantage if it is managed correctly.
Among other advantages, this possibility allows brands to manage the perception customers have of their brand and to gather information that is extremely useful for improvement.
Co-creation with clients makes it possible to create custom-made products adapted to user needs and ideas, since they are the real experts in that matter, and above all, are the ones making the decision to buy.
It also reduces the margin of trial and error of ideas versus the ideas conceived by traditional Innovation Departments, since in this case they are born out of consumers themselves and satisfy their demands. Also, they are validated in the marketplace sooner because they are shared publicly.
By incorporating collaborative intelligence to different stages in the customer journey map, we can improve the consumer’s experience in each of these Touch Points, ultimately resulting in an improved customer journey map. The client knows he or she is being listened to, borne in mind; he or she can influence the quality of the new product and service on offer, and will therefore feel more and more satisfied.
As can be seen in the image, the experience of the customer journey improves because the customer knows he or she is going to be listened to when he meets our brand, because we ask for feedback at various stages in the journey in order to satisfy his or her needs better than before.
Although co-creation with clients and customer listening programs based on collaborative intelligence are still something new, this type of dynamic is being used with successful results by companies like Banco Santander, Alain Afflelou or Mutua Madrileña, among others; and is undoubtedly a firm step towards creating loyalty among clients—something essential at a time of incredible competition for audiences and consumer trust.