New research reveals just how important it is for brands to invest in customer experience

Staying on top of an ever-changing digital landscape is part and parcel of marketing in 2019. One glance at Scott Brinker’s now-famous Martech 5000 supergraphic can send the modern marketer into a dizzying spiral of mild existential panic; prompting questions like:

  • Which emerging tech trends are really worth investing in this year?
  • How can I make sure that my company stands out among the digital noise?
  • What do modern consumers really value — and expect — from brands in 2019?

This is what companies need to be asking themselves. After all, consumers have more authority than ever before when it comes to purchasing decisions; they research your products, size you up against competitors, and make up their minds before they even talk to a salesperson.

Couple that with more competition to cut through (for most of us at least), and it begins to explain why some are touting customer experience to be the all-encompassing brand strategy companies need to obsess about if they’re to adapt to the ever-changing expectations of the modern consumer.

New research points to this being a sound approach: Bynder x OnBrand’s 2019 State of Branding Report shows that nearly 1 in 3 marketing decision-makers see “excellent customer service” as the most effective way to stand out from the crowd and engage with consumers — more so than the quality of brand campaigns (15%), or even the product itself (13%).

Likewise, a major takeaway from Forrester’s Predictions for 2019 is the growing focus on customer experience, with customer obsession being a key component of winning brands in 2019.

“Customer experience (CX) quality has been a recurring theme for years. CMOs will now tackle this perennial problem by returning to their roots and grounding CX efforts extensively with brand.” —Forrester

While focusing on the customer seems like a no-brainer, this all too often isn’t reflected in how today’s brands operate. Although 42% of marketers in a Marketing Week survey think their business should be structured around the consumer, just 5.8% of those surveyed actually practice what they preached and were set up with customers at the core.

More oft than not, organizations are built around the product, or split into traditionally-siloed departments, which stifles the ability for a company to effectively adapt and react to the rapidly-changing demands of both consumers and the latest tech trends.

However, adopting a consumer-centric approach comes with its challenges: the 2019 State of Branding Report reveals “finding the most relevant and targeted channels to reach target audiences” to be the most common challenge for brands trying to engage with current and prospective customers.

After all, consumers are more tech-savvy than ever, and the touchpoints across which they interact with a brand have multiplied in recent years. Customer experience expert Shep Hyken hits the nail on the head in his recent Forbes article:

“Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you. They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them.”

This is the battleground that today’s brands must contend with; technology acts as the catalyst for the marketing of tomorrow, and it’s necessary for companies to adopt a forward-thinking approach that embraces digital transformation in order to stay relevant.

It seems the industry is starting to listen: 94% of respondents from the State of Branding report feel that it’s “very” (63%) or at least “somewhat” (31%) important for their company to invest in emerging technologies for 2019, with “customer experience and engagement” proving to be the number one motivation.

“In 2019, brands will continue to exploit the fascination of users with emerging technologies. People have a special taste for on-trend tech and the constant stream of new innovations keeps this addiction alive.”
— Alain Sylvain, Founder and CEO of Sylvain Labs

Yet, the ever-growing number of digital channels available for brands to connect with consumers can be a blessing and a curse: how do companies make sure they’re active and engaging with audiences across social media, email, chatbots, video (and everything in between), while delivering an all-encompassing, consistent brand identity that helps cement a relationship with audiences at the same time?

This is the challenge for brands in 2019. While a customer may talk to you on the phone one day, they could be chatting to a bot the next. If there’s a disconnect between the two, and they feel like they’re speaking to two different companies, this will prevent a rapport developing — which is key in cultivating a loyal customer base.

Just in case you’re not convinced of the need to invest in customer experience, consider this: consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a product/service that comes with a quality CX, and 32% even claim they’d stop doing business with a brand they “love” after just one bad experience.

A customer is four times as likely to buy from a competitor if they are having issues with customer service, not product or pricing.

“Great companies are no longer just product or service companies; they’re great experience companies, and the companies that are moving their investments from traditional ways of marketing and advertising into experience-led services and products are the ones that are actually doing better … They’re winning.”
— David Clarke, Global Chief Experience Officer, PwC

Clearly, there’s a lot riding on delivering a positive experience across every conceivable touchpoint, and brands investing in customer experience management (CXM) — and the technology that enables it — are setting themselves up for success in 2019 and beyond.