From Customer Expectations to Customer Experience

Opinion: The stakes for winning long-term customer loyalty have never been so high

I may sound like a broken record by saying this yet again, but the customer must always be at the center of your business decisions. It doesn’t matter if you oversee marketing, product or technology: Every decision you make must take your customer into account. Otherwise why make all of those decisions in the first place?

So what’s a brand to do? Unfortunately, every brand is different, which essentially means that what your customers expect from you can vary quite a bit, as well. Even so, I’d like to share a few quick and easy tips—what I like to call social media “boosts”—that can get you winning on the customer experience playing field in no time.

Know your audience

This may sound obvious, but the only way to deliver a stellar customer experience is to know and understand exactly who makes up your target audience, as well as what makes them tick. You can accomplish this by letting data do the heavy lifting.

Today, thanks to the flood of real-time data available to marketers, we can pinpoint the specific actions, behaviors and interests of the people we want to engage. By having this essential knowledge in our back pocket, we are in a better position to relate to our customers’ wants, needs and expectations and, as a result, are better able to serve them.

But this information can’t live within marketing teams alone—it must be accessible to the right stakeholders across the organization and fully integrated into the other systems that engage customers directly (i.e., social data merging with customer-relationship-management systems). This is the best way to get a 360-degree view of the customer and deliver a more personalized customer experience that drives action.

Remember, our goal is to put the right message in front of the right customer at the right time, typically when they are ready to make some sort of (purchase) decision. We can’t do this without precision data to inform the process.

Publish relevant content

If you’ve looked through any of your social media feeds lately—and let’s face it, who hasn’t done that at least 10 times today already?—it’s fairly obvious that there’s no shortage of content in the world. In fact, it seems like the more we produce content, the more consumers want to gobble it up.

However, not all content is created equal, nor are the ways in which consumers engage with content on different social media platforms.

It’s a simple equation: You must know exactly who your audience is, what kind of content piques their interest and when they are actively looking for it, as well as what channels they use to find and digest it. All of these pieces must be in place to make an impact. Otherwise what you publish will be nothing more than white noise.

Empower your support team

More people than ever are flocking to social media to get support, complain, sing praises or simply to share ideas. Your customer-support team must be equipped with knowledge, resources and tools—a good place to start would be your own online community—to respond to customer queries quickly and efficiently.

In fact, it’s about time we started to think about and train our customer-service representatives as subject matter experts. They are on the front lines responding to (sometimes irate) customers, resolving issues and troubleshooting to the very best of their abilities, all while serving as a living, breathing representative of your brand.

They may just be a voice over the phone or an avatar via direct message, but even so, they become the embodiment of your brand to whomever they are communicating with. So you can’t leave them high and dry. Your support team is critical to your brand’s success: With customer experience on the line, they must be able to respond, react and resolve in real-time. But you must empower them to do so.

Streamline collaboration

Managing your social media presence doesn’t have to be complicated. New tools and technologies available have made social media marketing—once a very manual, siloed effort—more integrated across internal platforms today. Unfortunately, marketers have been slow to embrace them.

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