I remember what it was like to walk into a mom-and-pop shop and walk out a customer for life. Yesterday’s small business grew its customer base like building a family – through loyalty, personalization, and meaningful experiences.
But many of today’s tech and data-driven companies are struggling to learn the fundamentals of creating and capitalizing on customer experience (CX). CX maturity often depends much less on employing advanced technology than understanding basic human needs and emotions. And the best way to understand your customers’ needs is to ask.
For example, I used to work for a large tractor manufacturer. The agriculture industry runs on a wide array of sophisticated equipment. But it’s actually the color of the machinery that matters to customers more than cost or efficiency.
When surveyed, most customers said they would leave a tractor manufacturer for changing its color, even if that brand offered superior technology. This kind of surprising data point demands a marketing model that is more human and less tech-driven than today’s status quo.
Here are a few ways humanizing your marketing plan can maximize your CX.
Focus On The Details
Anticipate ways to meet your customers’ most basic needs and desires, even if they lie outside your product or service. A good way to forecast simple but overlooked ways to impress potential customers is to study your competition and raise the bar on their incentives.
At a recent event, my team knew our competitor would be offering attendees free coffee. Because free coffee never lasts, we rented a coffee truck and parked it across the street from the event. We also knew it was going to rain that day, so we stocked up on rain jackets and umbrellas to escort people to and from the truck. Attention to detail is one of the easiest and most effective methods of directing attention toward your brand in a way that’s both meaningful and memorable.
When considering upgrades to your product or service, consider also that your customers are rooted in tradition. Both large enterprises and small startups stress the importance of cultivating company culture while hardly giving any thought to the culture embraced by their customers. Identifying characteristics – like the color of tractors tied to a specific agricultural region – matter to the people who buy and use your product. Don’t fix what isn’t broken; your brand’s image only matters so much as it aligns with your customers’ self-image.
Plan To Deliver
More aggressive marketing does not always mean more successful marketing. Digital marketing makes it easy, especially for today’s plethora of subscriptions services, to overshoot the number of customers a business can accommodate at any stage of its development. Taking an individualized account-based approach to marketing helps fulfills every CX touchpoint, all the way through to renewal.
An effective marketing plan continues to deliver post-purchase. Your marketing team should be fully aligned with your customer service team. When the latter knows exactly how a product is being pitched, they’re much better equipped to direct feedback and address pain points as they arise. Customer support must be omni-channel and properly scaled. If your company’s Facebook page is full of unaddressed questions or concerns, you don’t have a viable product.
Create A Home Away From Home
I travel a lot, and there are a few hotels I won’t stay at because they’re generic and impersonal. I make a point of staying at particular hotels that make an effort to call me by name and get to know who I am. At some of my favorite hotels, the staff members know I’m a big sports fan. When they see me, they’ll strike up a conversation about the Utah Jazz.
Little things like this make a big difference to people when they’re on the road. Customers who consistently receive this kind of attention are likely to regard your brand as less of a business and more like a friend or family. And while making your customers feel at home might seem like a CX strategy exclusive to hotels and resorts, it can easily be extrapolated to restaurants, retailers – even software and social media platforms.
Share Your CX
CX is maximized to the degree that it’s publicized. Sharing your customer experience acknowledges your current customers while appealing to your future fan base. Hosting contests and giveaways through social media is an excellent marketing technique. A lot of companies talk about hosting giveaways, but they rarely showcase the participants. Design contests and giveaways to provide value to your brand and each individual customer, whether or not they win.
At a recent event, my marketing team dressed up in Bigfoot costumes. People who took a picture with Bigfoot and tagged us on social media were entered to win an iPad or AirPods. The photo opportunity was a free novelty people wanted to share on their social media, whether or not they won a prize. We showcased those who did win on our social media platforms, and they were so excited that we received handwritten thank you notes from some of our prize recipients.
This is the perfect outcome of a sustainable marketing plan that capitalizes on today’s technology by scaling meaningful human interactions between businesses and customers. Mom-and-pop shop marketing isn’t a thing of the past. It’s still the best way to build a brand for life.