TNW custexp How To Create An Unforgettable Customer Experience

Customer experience is bigger than customer service in that it is the full, and end experience. It starts when you first hear about Amazon from a friend and ends when you get the package in the mail and open it. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Interactive is the buzz word of 2011 for marketers. 43% of marketers polled planning to increase their spending on marketing through search, e-mail, social media and mobile marketing this year, according to a recent Forrester report.

Mobile and social media channels will be a focus as marketers try to explore innovative ways to reach out to consumers, but how effective can they be if not treated as parts of a bigger picture? Not very, Forrester points out, as the most effective interactive marketing campaigns will be coordinated across multiple marketing channels focusing on customer behavior. Customer’s experience goes beyond marketing and includes online and off line touchpoints, like a brand’s social media accounts, e-commerce site, brick and mortar store, mobile app, reviews on other sites etc. As more touchpoints get added, retailers and brand marketers must try to play to each platform’s advantages while keeping their communication effective, clear and consistent.

When building a cohesive, engaging customer experience retailers and brand marketers need to think of the different ways consumers choose to interact with a brand and with each other and figure out ways to support them at all times. A customer may have never visited a brand’s Facebook page, but may be a loyal off line customer, while someone else may be interacting with a brand on Twitter who spreads its message across different platforms and makes sporadic purchases online. Think of what impression you leave if a customer connects with your brand on one or more touchpoints.

For instance DKNY, could evoke completely different emotions to someone that connects to it on Facebook alone or Twitter, because although it has a vivid presence on Twitter, with DKNY PR Girl setting the tone of a young, fresh brand that is close to its customers, on Facebook DKNY, having been a Facebook attack victim in the past, vibes are more distant and cold. The more cohesive the experience, the stronger the emotional connection you build with your customer. Apple has mastered this, owning an Apple product, visiting iTunes store or an Apple store anywhere in the world, are all part of a special cohesive experience that has created maybe the most loyal customers in the history of commerce.

Convey your brand’s personality, adding emotion and value to pre and post shopping experience to create passionate customers. According to recent study, the pre-shopping touchpoints have grown in importance as consumers choose to research the most convenient ways to make the right purchases at the right price and compare those results online. Brands and retailers need to explore ways to tailor communications to specific consumer groups and engage them through branded content and communities.

Integrating digital elements in-stores can carry your message in the same tone from the online to the off line shopping experience, and vice versa. The next generation digitally enhanced stores are already trending and according to the research mentioned above customers value technology that makes shopping easier, with 63% of the respondents interested in using services like handheld scanners and 45% in-store kiosks.

Many brands have leveraged mobile barcodes and geolocation services to connect with their customers in more personal and immediate ways while in-store. Post purchase brands and retailers should find creative ways to keep the conversation going, for instance Nike has achieved this with Nike+, a line of products that encourages shoppers to share their stories on social media and keep their ties with Nike strong through its runners community.

Another great example is Amazon’s Buyback program enabling consumers to sell back a variety of the books they’ve purchased on the site, showing that their customer’s convenience is their priority even post-buy. Brands that stay away from fragmented, sterile mini-experiences and focus on delivering a innovative, whole, customer-centered experience, can transform the way they connect to consumers and gain a place in their hearts.