Attracting customers and keeping them happy requires companies to do more than just churn out new and innovative products. It requires them to build a deeper understanding of how customers will consume those products, whether to grow their businesses or enrich their personal lives.
"This is the essence of the 'experience economy, '" says Oracle Executive Vice President Rob Tarkoff, who is in charge of Oracle’s CX strategy and development. Unlike the industrial and service economies, “in the experience economy customers are the innovators in the way they engage with brands and how they use their offerings,” he said.
To cash in on the experience economy, Tarkoff advises companies to adopt artificial intelligence to instantly capture data about their customers, apply analytics to that data in real time, and then immediately present relevant offers. “That will be your competitive advantage,” Tarkoff said.
But to deliver such capabilities, companies’ “customer-facing business functions need to be silo-free, and connected to customers along a marketing, sales, service, and commerce continuum,” he said.
Tarkoff shared four tenets of the experience economy:
1. Help customers discover exactly what they’re looking for—in the precise moments they need it.
Exceptional customer experiences begin with “hyper-personalization,” a practice that goes beyond audience segmentation. Rather than target people based on common attributes or demographic groupings, companies need to capture their customers’ browsing patterns, content interests, and purchase histories in precise “micro-moments,” and then respond with tailored offers in milliseconds.
2. Facilitate ways for customers to engage with your company, on their terms.
For Boston-based Radius Bank, “it’s really important to provide a community bank feeling, while also having state-of-the-art technologies to support a self-service, digital banking business model,” says Christina Shortall, vice president of customer experience.
In addition to letting its customers across the US deposit checks and pay bills from their mobile devices, the bank’s website features a self-service searchable knowledge base, an automated email response form, and a chatbot named Rae. Using Oracle Service Cloud Digital Assistant, Radius customers can ask Rae how to open a savings account or find their tax documents. If for some reason Rae can’t answer their questions, the application triggers an escalation to a live agent.
Since rolling out the virtual assistant, the bank’s Net Promoter Score, a measure of a company’s customer loyalty, has increased 20%.
3. Let customers subscribe to your range of products, rather than make them pay to own specific ones.
Can’t decide whether to buy an SUV for your family or lease a convertible for yourself? For about $2,700 a month, a 32-day minimum commitment, and a $575 activation fee, BMW will let you drive them both.
The German carmaker introduced a tiered subscription service last April that lets customers switch among five or six different vehicles as many times as they want. The subscription covers insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. Using in-vehicle sensors, BMW tracks the mileage, fuel consumption, and fluid levels of each vehicle and then crafts a pricing plan that includes monthly allowances, with the ability to tack on fees if drivers exceed their subscription limits.
“The business opportunity to build recurring customer relationships and predictable revenue streams is tremendous,” Tarkoff says.
4. Create an integrated service organization to build relationships with more loyal, higher-margin customers.
At Brother International, the 65-year-old manufacturer of printers, sewing machines, and label makers, great customer service is becoming everyone’s responsibility. By consolidating its digital marketing, direct e-commerce, and customer service operations into a single customer experience center of excellence, the company’s customer-facing employees will be able to see, for example, new social posts as they come in from Q&As and reviews on the sites of its retail partners. Depending on the type of comment, a service agent, marketer, or sales rep can directly engage with each customer.
“We’re able to see exactly which products or features our customers love, and which ones they’re having problems with,” says Jessica Campbell, program manager of customer experience at Brother. “We’re also able to see what those problems are, and then not only quickly resolve the individual incident, but also analyze all of the feedback from each of our customers so that we can either re-engineer our products or change the way we support them,” Campbell says.
In the experience economy, every department shares ownership of the customer, Oracle’s Tarkoff says. “Whoever gets to the customer first,” he says, “needs to be given the tools and authority to earn her trust, win her business, and keep her happy.”
Read the full article on Forbes here.