Low-Effort Customer Experiences Equal High-Reward Marketing
By Ginger Conlon | 8.16.18
When it comes to competing on customer experience (CX), being easy to do business with is table stakes. That applies to marketing just as much as it applies to any other functional area in an organization. Marketers can interact with customers and prospects in ways that simplify or complicate their experience.
As a marketer, the choice is yours. And it can be a profitable one: 94 percent of customers polled by analyst firm CEB (now Gartner) say they’ll buy from a company again when they’ve had a low-effort experience. In some industries, customers would pay up to 38 percent more for a simpler experience, according
MKTGinsight recently spoke with customer engagement expert Jeff Epstein, VP of product at Comm100, about what marketers can do to provide low-effort experiences. His advice:
What does it mean to be a low-effort company?
Being a low-effort company is the only true embodiment of what everybody's talking about in terms of being customer centric. The key to doing that well is to design your organization from the customer's perspective.
So, low effort means you’re easy to connect with, you’re easy to transact with, and, ultimately, you’re easy to fall in love with. Saying you’re customer centric doesn’t make it so. We’ve seen many examples of companies that put that face out there, but don't have the organizational or operational structure to actually follow through with it.
What are some of the advantages of being a low-effort company?
Simply put, the biggest advantage is customer loyalty. When you are low effort, when you make it stupid easy for customers to connect and do business with you, you're going to get their loyalty.
What happens when you get their loyalty? You'll get less churn, greater customer lifetime value, more referrals, and better reviews. And it really doesn't matter what business you're in. When you’re low effort, you’re going to earn trust, and trust will breed loyalty, and loyalty will breed support.
Also, being a low-effort company is a differentiator. As I said, people talk low effort and they talk customer centricity, but they don’t deliver. If you actually deliver and make that real, that will differentiate your brand.
Often executives think of low effort in terms of sales and service. How does being low effort apply to marketers?
For starters, marketers need to be thinking about customer experience all the time. Not just the prospect experience, but the customer experience. When you have that mind-set as a marketer, you’re always putting yourself in the shoes of that email recipient or Twitter follower or shopper.
Think about journey mapping as an example. Marketers try to figure out the paths that their most profitable customers take, then they try to cram everybody else into that same path. The reality is no two customers are alike, so no two customers are going take that same path. In being low effort as a marketer, I don't get to decide how a customer wants to do business with me. I have to listen, and learn, and watch how they prefer to do business. Then I have to make that as simple
Being low effort flips the journey mapping model. It’s all about being in that right place, at the right time, with the right information, when the customer is ready. It means making it easier for them to find you and to engage with you and start along path to purchase. Once they’re a customer, it means eliminating all the friction points throughout the customer life cycle that get in the way of becoming that evangelist that every business wants.
How can marketers use technology help their company be low effort?
There are so many tools at marketers’ disposal to turn that objective into reality. In no particular order, some examples of what we use here at Comm100 include account-based marketing (ABM) tools such as Demandbase and EverString to understand what the ideal customer profile is for us…, find other companies like them, and personalize messaging to each account. We also use retargeting extensively, account-based proactive chat, and LookBook HQ for personalized content curation, promotion, and distribution. Further down in the life cycle, we use customer success management tools Influitive and ClientSuccess to help identify which customers are most likely to be advocates.
There's obviously no magic bullet in terms of technology. Being low effort comes down to being in that right place, at the right time, with the right content. Technology is just one element supporting that.
As you build campaigns, you need to approach them with an omnichannel perspective. Think about how to tailor your messages to each medium while keeping the messaging, branding, and timing consistent. You probably have different teams managing social, email, events, and the like. Are they all attached to the same campaign, and do they understand the personas you’re targeting? The CMO and the heads of demand gen and CX need to establish the ground rules, then religiously enforce them for every campaign.
Here at a Comm100, for example, we use a corporate OKR—objective and key result—on a quarterly basis. Marketing takes the corporate OKR down to a marketing OKR and then individual teams take that marketing OKR down to a marketing functional OKR. We circle back at the end of quarter and evaluate our achievements against those OKRs. You have to show your team that you're measuring against the objectives you’ve set.
How else can marketers help their company become low effort?
Voice of customer is something that marketers need to adopt and adhere to religiously. I don't care if you’re using technology or you’re using your annual
user conference. You have to have some method of sitting down and letting
your customers talk to you and then translating that information back inside
Also, you need to be ruthless with identifying and culling poor practices. If you set targets for the performance of a campaign, or a product launch, or a promotion and it doesn’t meet that target, stop doing it. You're not being genuine if you continue doing things that your customers don't care about.
Finally, being low effort has to come from the top. The C-suite has to live it and breathe it every day. They have to demonstrate in their actions, not just in their words, that being low effort is critical to corporate strategy. If it’s not embodied from the top, it’s not going to be followed through at the bottom.
One of the first business theories I read about in grad school was kaizen, the Japanese notion of incremental improvements—the constant effort to improve, even in little ways. Have patience because quick change is disruptive. Sometimes you need it, but most the time you don't. Have that vision of, "I know I need to get there, I'll be patient, but I'm going work every day to smooth our customers’ path." That’s CX kaizen for marketers. It’s a good theory to have.
About the Author
Ginger Conlon, chief editor and marketing alchemist at MKTGinsight, catalyzes change in marketing organizations. She is a frequent speaker on marketing and customer experience, and serves in advisory or leadership roles for several industry organizations. Ginger was honored with a Silver Apple lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the marketing industry.