This content ran previously on Fortune.
Isn’t it a great feeling when someone gives you exactly what you are looking for at exactly the right time?
Digitally-rooted companies, like Uber, address customer needs with exactly the right customer solution in real time. Their business model and the customer experience are one and the same. They’re successful because their customer experience is driven by context and relevance.
- Context means using real-time data to deliver, and act on, that relevant information in the moment, with an understanding of the customer’s mindset, as well as their information needs.
- Relevance means giving customers the information they need based on what’s known about them along with what is likely on their minds.
Frustratingly, many of today’s companies lack the visibility necessary to comprehend customer variables. Little visibility means little relevancy and context in interactions, which deviates from what we expect in a real one-on-one conversation, where the exchange of information guides the dialogue and the outcome. Many companies aren’t successful at this because they don’t really listen.
Improving a company’s ability to listen to its customers involves turning inward to develop new culture, processes and systems centered on the customer. Technology and predictive tools are then applied to transform generalized brand interactions into personalized human interactions. Here are some things we’ve learned:
Bridge customer experience gaps
In Closing The Experience Gaps, Forrester identifies gaps that stymie a company’s ability to deliver great experiences: performance, convenience, personalization and trust. Filling these gaps quickly, comprehensively and with discretion leads to more satisfied customers.
Practice a “first customer” mentality
Experience gaps occur when customers feel a disconnect stemming from marketing campaigns that focus on short-term business goals instead of services and offers that naturally translate to lifetime customer value. Companies make the biggest strides when customer interaction (processes), systems (information) and culture (business KPIs) align on how to evolve the customer relationship at every opportunity. With this in mind, it’s important to design your business to treat each customer — especially long standing customers — as if he or she was the first customer.
Join the context revolution
Forrester’s Carlton Doty uses the concept of a “Contextual Marketing Engine” as the system to bridge the gap between marketing and customer service, deliver utility, provide persistent engagement, redefine the purpose of campaigns and enable customer-managed relationships. Instead of taking in customer information, customers manage their relationship with your company. Your enterprise responds by “sharing rather than taking, anticipating customers’ needs rather than reacting, and delivering value in the moment rather than just at the point of purchase.”
Keeping relevance and context in mind when shaping every customer experience will foster stronger customer relationships — and help continue conversations well into the future.