What is it that creates a great customer experience? Is it a good interaction with customer service or with a mobile website or app? Is it personalization in messaging, or something else entirely? In a recent survey by Gartner, it said that by 2017, 89 percent of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.
That is up from 30 percent in 2010. With this increased reliance on experience, what can brands do to improve theirs? I recently had some great experiences as a consumer that shows just what experience business means.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to present at the Ragan Disney conference at Walt Disney World. I went a few days early to the Magic Kingdom Park with my family. For me and many others, Disney World is a place that fully immerses a customer in an experience — which is why I think first time guests have a 70 percent return rate.
How does one of the most valued brands in the world create an experience? Like many companies, Disney nails the big impacts at its parks — the castle, the characters, the lands, the entertainment, the rides, and the ambiance. To truly get a Disney-level experience, you need to look at the details. During my recent trip, it was the light post that caught my eye. Yes, the light post. Having already been to a lot of amusement parks that don’t focus as much attention on the paint of the railings and light posts, I appreciated the chip free sparkle and flawless paint that showed the effort Disney puts into creating an experience. Here are three potential light posts areas for your business that can be used to create an experience.
1. Social Media
A recent survey from J.D. Power shows 67 percent of consumers use social media for their customer service needs. That means your social media has become your first line of defense for customer complaints — as well as opportunities to create an experience.
Two years ago I sent a Tweet about how I was enjoying some Nesquik even though I was a full-grown adult. The tweet had some good engagement and I got a nice response from the brand. They sent me a direct message requesting my address and sent me a box full of Nesquik coupons and products. They created a much more loyal fan out of me after that simple interaction.
2. Content Strategy
We are inundated with new content. Facebook data shows there are approximately 2.5 million posts every minute. There certainly is a lot of content noise, but it can be an effective way to generate business. Per a study from the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing and generates more than 3 times the leads. Jeff Barrett — Inc contributor, social influencer, and recent Adobe Summit Insider — had this to say about content strategy:
Easier access creates greater competition. It’s like the line for $1 sub day at Jimmy John’s — but you can skip ahead in this line. (1) Find the quickest way to a million followers. Chances are you don’t have that reach but other people do. Keep attracting influencers to work with you until you reach that mark rather than waiting the years it would take to grow that reach. (2) Determine the end result before you even begin. What do you want this strategy to yield? Purchases, brand loyalty, visibility? So many brands feel rushed to act and forget this step. Notice I didn’t mention content? It’s important but, if you create the best content without a goal (Old Spice) or without enough people to see it (Brand You’ve Never Heard Of), it will never work.
3. Customer Research
To provide a good experience, you need to understand your customer. The right research can provide a great experience that feels personalized. Brands like Adobe, McDonalds, Apple, Nest, and other large companies use consistent surveys, usage data, social listening, and other research methods to consistently improve products, jump on current trends, and prepare for the future.
For me, Marriott has provided these individual experiences countless times. Jokingly, I tweeted at a Marriott years ago about how I loved Andes Mints on my pillow at night. Ever since that one note, I have received an Andes mint — sometimes bags of them in the case of the World Center Marriott who hosted me during my Disney stay. That seemingly small customer interaction from research they have saved about me keeps me a loyal customer to their brand when I travel.
In a tech-driven world that continues to expand, experiences are what will separate you from the crowd. It is important to focus on the big castle that initially brings customers to your product, but you may find it’s the light posts that truly create an experience. Whatever your light post might be — social media, content strategy, customer research, or something entirely different — make sure you put a little extra care to give it that Disney sparkle.
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