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5 Digital Marketing Lessons From Game Of Thrones

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Now that the fifth season of Game of Thrones is behind our back, millions of fans (just like us) are trying to recover from the absolute jaw-dropping finale. Shock is the only constant in George R. R. Martin’s epic series.

If there a TV show out there that can teach us something about the world of digital marketing, that is HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Before starting, a necessary ‘spoiler alert’. While in this article we will avoid references from the finale, it may still include some spoilers from previous seasons of the show.

Despite all controversies about the actual contents of the series (too many naked scenes, too many gruesome deaths), there is no doubt at all that Game of Thrones is a great brand, probably one of the best Tv productions ever created.

And it not just great programming, but also an amazing opportunity to learn few lessons about the art of marketing in the digital era. Taking a ride in Westeros you can find remarkable insights, hidden in the intricate plot twists, the raw dialogues, the extreme characterization of all elements.

It’s no surprise to us that both the novels and the Tv series have gathered legions of faithful supporters, particularly among the youngest (the so-called millennials). Armed with the inseparable smartphone, they are picky customers, demanding and extremely hard to please.

Customers of the ‘post digital transformation era’ know what they want and waste no time looking for your brand. Either you’re there when they need it or you don’t exist at all. They ask for exciting experiences, stories that jump off the screen and inspire loyalty. And Lannister, Targaryen and Stark have pleased them all.

In fact, the Game of Thrones brand has everything needed to appeal digital customers:

Another season has come to an end; ten episodes full of emotional turmoils. And now we will all have to wait in the cold for another year, wondering what the author and the producers have in store for the next season. Nobody knows who will win the Iron Throne, but one thing's sure: the story will raise the bar, even more.

While we ponder, it’s also worth considering why - as marketers - we’re so enthralled by the destiny of the Westeros. Game of Thrones’ massive success is more than a simple fortunate event. It’s a well planned strategy. Here are 5 digital marketing lessons we can learn from Game of Thrones.

BRACE YOURSELF, GOOGLE IS COMING

We start by borrowing the motto of House Stark, "Winter is Coming". If you’re a fan of the show, you know that Stark is the most ill-fated family of the whole world depicted by Martin. The deep meaning behind these words is one of warning and vigilance. Even when things are good, you must always be ready for unexpected changes.

What’s the greatest marketing challenge in the Internet era? To get noticed by Google and recognized as the first reference to fulfill customers’ needs. Google algorithm, with the mobile-friendly update, could be ‘winter’ for your mobile marketing if you can’t deal with the Mobilegeddon. Knowledge is power: stay in control by staying up to date.

CONTENT IS CONSTANT WAR

In the first season of the show, Cersei Lannister offers one of her most chilling warning: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Same with content marketing, the ground you build amazing customer experience on.

In an inbound marketing perspective, empowering customers means being what they want to consume, the best resource they find in the purchase process. Game of Thrones gives hints: create an epic storytelling, always exceed expectations and make customers anxiously wait for what’s next.

LOYALTY IS THE KEY TO WIN

Varys ‘The Spider’ explains the two principles that guide most people in Westeros: “Those who are loyal to the realm, and those who are loyal only to themselves.” The world of Westeros is based on one simple fact: every single person is loyal to someone.

Every business wants loyal customers, the key to succeed in the long term. Customer retention is cheaper than acquisition, but way harder to get. You need to be customer obsessed and give people a reason to keep coming back to you: loyalty programs, gamification dynamics, a remarkable customer experience.

ALWAYS DELIVER YOUR PROMISE

The entire Game of Thrones plot revolves around the story of someone who makes a promise and tries to deliver it, no matter how hard it is. The Lannistersalways pay their debts”; Brienne of Tarth tries to protects Catelyn’s daughters; Arya Stark wants to avenge his father’s death.

At the core of every brand there’s a distinctive promise: what you are is what you ultimately deliver to your customers. Every single touch point of the customer journey is shaped by your ability to deliver that promise. In the Age of the Customer, when you sell your products, you always sell yourself too.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE ENEMIES

Knowledge is power”, says Petyr Baelish'Littlefinger' to Cersei. If you know what your enemies are doing, then you’re always one step ahead. The game of the throne is played with swords and shields, but also with strategy and analysis. Only the weak has no knowledge.

To stay top of mind, you should know what everyone else is doing and, most important, you should never underestimate your competitors (just look at the ‘retail vs e-commerce’ war). If you know who your competition is, what they offer and how they engage with customers, you can get ideas and discover opportunities.

And remember: in this ever-changing scenario, disrupted by innovative technologies, you can’t rest on your laurels.

You know nothing, Jon Snow”.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Customer Loyalty: 5 Celebrity Lessons From Lady Gaga & Co.

To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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5 Content Marketing Facts You Need To Know (To Be Truly Epic)

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A great customer experience always lies on great content marketing. With digital transformation in full swing, content has become the new focal point in the overall brand marketing effort.

Great content is never static. It moves with society and technology. In the wake of recent trends, we have traced 5 content marketing facts you absolutely need to know. And yes, they are all true.

In the last decade mobile technology has had a considerable effect in increasing the points of contact between brands and customers. You website is still the primary digital business card you have, but not the only one. The spread of digital properties makes it mandatory to focus efforts - and money - on your online and mobile customer experience.

"Roughly 27 million pieces of content are shared on the web every single day."(AOL, Nielsen)

That number will only continue to grow, showing the role of epic content as true king of the marketing landscape. Would you spend your - low - budget on traditional advertising rather than the set-up of a smooth ‘content creation machine’?

It’s a fact that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing.

Content marketing has flipped the traditional marketing models from the push paradigm to pull.” (Jeff Bullas)

Marketing for the Age of the Customer can’t even exist without content. In the pre-Internet age ‘space’ was the main element of competition; today brands challenge to retain ‘attention’. The attention of customers is critical to succeed in crowded markets and pave the way for trust and loyalty.

The following stats highlight how competitive content will be in the next years:

  • Content marketing (30%) is considered the most commercially important digital marketing trend for 2015; more than big data (14.6%) and marketing automation (12.8%) (Smart Insights);
  • Marketers now spend 25% of their budgets on content marketing, and 78% of CMO’s think custom and personalized content is the future of marketing (Yahoo Advertising);
  • 86% of companies are doing content marketing, but 56% admits they do not have a defined strategy for it (Content Marketing Institute);
  • 53% of marketers rank content creation as the single most effective SEO tactic (NewsCred).

Quality is the most important factor you should focus on to increase conversion rates in the inbound marketing perspective. Remember: remarkable content is never product-based; it’s a solution that puts together customers’ needs/desires and company goals.

Content marketing is not about luck; it’s about producing and distributing relevant content, to deliver your message, strenghten your brand identity and empower your customers.

You are your content, and what you share is what you narrate about yourself. That becomes even more true now that you deal with customers that spend most of their time sharing thoughts and opinions on social networks, using their mobile devices.

Smartphones, tablets, and - last, but not least - the Apple Watch, disrupt the way people communicate and, consequently, how brands build engagement. And content marketing is a puzzle with many moving parts:

  • Start with finding your true why - your vision and mission;
  • Build upon your archetype - the foundation of brand identity;
  • Blend storytelling and technology - evolve to involve;
  • Involve different channels - blog, social media, email marketing, online advertising;
  • Use content to deliver highly personalized experiences at the right time.

If you want to create an amazing digital customer experience, all pieces of your content marketing need to match perfectly. Relationships rely on honest, relevant communication across all touch points of the customer journey. And the content you create is your first line of communication with prospects and potential leads.

So, what does the actual landscape look like? Here are the 5 content marketing facts we have promised. They might not surprise you, but it’s way more surprising how many companies still ignore them.

NEED A PLAN?

Just like anything else in life and business, you need a plan to create a competitive content strategy. You can’t just throw online articles, blog articles and social posts, expecting that customers come to you miraculously. That will never happen, and even Google won't notice you. Coherence and consistency, these must be your keywords.

MIND THE COST

Don’t think that it all comes down to being creative. Yes, the ability to stand out and delight customers with unique content is priceless, but content marketing has a cost (usually 33% of all marketing budget). Not all content is good: you need ideas, you need expert people, you need technology and software. You do need a budget.

BE SHEARABLE

As Hubspot says, “Distribution is what makes content relevant for a specific buyer persona.” Creating invaluable content is useless when nobody reads it. Be sure that you design 'shearable' contents: Nielsen research reveals that users share content when it is trustworthy, helpful, current, relevant, and easy to access on all devices. Or it's about cats.

MEET THE EYE

Internet is a huge database of information. How can you attract customers with your piece of content evenly distributed around the web? Remember that any channel has its own rules: information and delight might come from long articles but the most loved pieces of content are infographics, engaging videos and amazing visuals. Be epic!

STAY SOCIAL

By 2016, there will be an estimated 2.13 billion social network users around the globe (Statista). One numbers says it all. While a mobile optimized website and blog are still the core of your online identity, if you want to connect with customers on all levels you have to rely on the power of social relations. And if your company still refuses to have a social account … well, you are in trouble.

Blogging, online advertising, social sharing, mobile apps, gamification dynamics, notifications, in-store promotions: they are all based on great content.

What matters is that big companies are embracing big content, and in so doing they are changing the expectations of YOUR customers. Whether you like it or not.” (Jay Baer)

Do you still deny the value of content marketing?

 

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:
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Customer Delight: 5 Steps To Deliver Engaging Experiences

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Do you have what it takes to engage customers? To connect with them on an emotional level and promote a positive reactions?

This is the basic requirement of customer delight: the willingness to go above and beyond normal relations in order to provide a customer experience that will leave an indelible impression.

Customer delight is not (just) a strategy; it is a business asset in markets where clients demand a leading role. It is so critical, in fact, that you should paint it on your walls and make it the core of company culture.

True customer obsessed companies never underestimate the power of delight. The emotional reaction is what allows you to transform average experiences into amazing experiences, leading to positive word of mouth and laying the ground for genuine engagement.

If you want to overcome the challenge in crowded competition, you should never settle for the minimum required. You must establish a unique identity, rooted into the ability to exceed expectations.

Customer delight happens exactly when you amaze a customer by exceeding his or her expectations. And it’s not just an abstract thought: delight directly affects sales and the return on investment of your digital marketing strategy, working as a major factor of distinction for your company and its products and services.

In the Age of the Customer, every brand works hard to offer high quality products and positive customer experience. In one word, they strive to meet customers’ expectations.

But this is only the starting point if you want to delight customers, an ideal place where needs and desires are not only met, but met in such a way that exceeds all expectations.

The art of cultivating happy customers is grounded on 3 pillars (according to Hubspot):

  • Innovation - to serve people in the best way possible;

  • Communication - to be personal rather than impersonal;

  • Education - to empower people and create great company culture.

In the conversion path, delight has a specific place: it is usually considered the last step of the inbound methodology loop, right after Attract, Convert, Close. Despite being the closing element, delight does not only applies to the post-conversion stage.

In fact, it should be inherent to all moments of the process and touch points of the customer journey map. The experience they bear in mind and bring with them during the connection with your brand - and even when they’re doing something else - is formed by every interaction customers have with you, both in the digital and physical world.

Interactions with brand (i.e. content marketing), interactions with objects and technology (i.e. the Internet of Things), interactions with people (i.e. customer service): while the element of delight can be created by the product itself, there is no doubt that the overall omni-channel experience is the real critical element to exceed expectations.

Experience and delight are so closely connected that you will never reach true engagement and loyalty if you can't build and deliver an amazing customer experience. Companies usually spend to improve their products and the acquisition process; as a result, sometimes customers feel left out.

The quality of your outcome is direct consequence of how much your organization is aligned around the centricity of customers. If your employees are disaffected, your clients will be too. Engagement is always employee engagement in the first place. There is no customer delight without delighted employees.

Delight should be treated as a competitive advantage to transform average customers into loyal promoters. The key is the ability to establish trust and interest, and create a long term relationship. Remember: customer retention is always cheaper than acquisition (at least 6 times cheaper, according to recent reports).

So, how can you be sure you’re actually exceeding expectations? Start with these 5 steps to deliver customer delight.

  1. Listen to what customers say - instead of walking in the fog, always listen to your customers before planning and executing your strategy (or launching a new product). Try to create something truly useful and delightful for those who actually experience it.

  2. See through customer’s eyes - more often than not, customers know brands better than they do themselves. This is a critical point: to deliver a positive experience, you need to wear your customers' shoes, to understand what they see when they look at you.

  3. Be coherent, be flexible - customer experience is (almost) never a matter of black and white. Flexibility is important to adapt to changes and adopt new technologies and methodologies. Of course, you should never betray your brand identity, your true why.

  4. Always give a little more - the rule is to offer customers what they want, when they want it, wherever they are. But competitors, they do it too. To stand out and become top choice, always deliver something more, something unexpected. Tell them what they don't know yet.

  5. Give customers space - the times of one-way communication from companies to consumers are well behind us. Empowered customers expect to be main characters of your brand story. Engage them with gamification and user generated contents to enable immediate digital advocacy.

And remember, the effort to delight customers should never replace the main focus of any successful company: improve the service and deliver the best customer experience they will ever have.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Retail Marketing Strategy - 5 Steps To Renew Customer Experience

To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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5 Great Marketing Ideas From Comics To Get DCX Superpowers

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Long gone are the days when comic books were considered just a niche market for ultimate nerds lost in a world of superheroes with super problems. In the last decade, comics have become a global marketing phenomenon, thanks to major players like Marvel, DC and Image Comics.

If you are a marketer/entrepreneur trying to figure out how to take your customer experience to the next level, comic books are no laughing matter anymore. They can offer plenty of marketing ideas and teach you how to lead your brand from average to DCX superpowers.

If you still look on comics as a naive industry, and you don’t think they have something to teach you for the Age of the Customer, please consider the following market statistics and trends:

  • Many of the most popular movies of the last years are comic books related: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Guardians of The Galaxy, Captain America.

  • Many of the most watched Tv series - The Walking Dead, Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Smallville - are adapted or inspired by comics.

  • The lists of best-selling books are, more often than not, topped by graphic novels and comics volumes (Maus, V For Vendetta, Watchmen to name a few).

In the era of smartphones and other disruptive technologies, you may think that something so traditional and low tech is doomed to disappear; on the contrary, comics sales just keep increasing, both for the paper and the digital version. What’s the secret? Superpowers? It’s all about a clear business vision and a willingness to ‘evolve to involve’ empowered customers.

It is evident that things today are not like they were 70 years ago, when comic characters like Superman and Batman began to take center stage in the collective imagination. Times change and so do reader’s dreams and tastes. As decades pass by, the greatest achievement for winning superheroes - and the comics industry in general - is the ability to evolve without losing their true identity.

This is the first great branding lesson for any company out there: In an era when every marketing executive is looking for innovative ways to engage clients no product, discount or advertising campaign has higher value than loyal customers.

Inbound marketing is all about replacing the old interruption model with a customer-centric process aimed at empowering people with an amazing customer experience. Behind this new approach lies the perfect recipe for customer retention: exclusive content plus emotional connections plus context awareness, all tailored to suit clients’ needs.

When it comes to turn turn customers into devoted fans, you can only learn from the crowds that gather every time there is a Comics Convention somewhere out there. We have carefully investigated this phenomenon, to trace 5 marketing ideas to get superpowers.

STORYTELLING AND LONGEVITY

Great stories develop a strong and coherent narration through the years. They adapt to appeal new generations, without losing or disavow their foundational ethical elements. Continuity is the key factor to foster engagement, and loyalty is not a one shot. It can only be built through the years, nurturing the community with fresh contents and pivotal moments of identification (i.e. conferences and events).

TRANSFORM FOR THE DIGITAL ERA

"The advent of digital screens will kill the paper". The prophecy is - in some way - true for traditional printings like novels, essays, newspapers. Sure, we live submerged in a digital environment, shaped by computers, laptops, ebooks, tablets, yet comic books are still here. Why? They show that, whatever the technology or the industry, digital customer experience is the key to survive. You must renew without losing your true identity.

FOCUS ON YOUR CUSTOMERS

If the customer is the reason why you do business in the first place, it is critical that you don't lose your focus while dealing with digital transformation. Writers and artists mold their creativity to convey their ideas, but they don't live in a golden cage. They always know the audience they want to reach. Same with super-brands: they know what customers want and try to answer to their desires, deal quickly with issues and deliver a positive customer experience.

THINK AND ACT OMNI-CHANNEL

Major publishers - Marvel and DC, but also Image with the unstoppable march of The Walking Dead - understand that, while traditional formats are still important, they are not enough to ensure real innovation. Today, the passage from pages to movie sets is the norm, and many writers are adapting their method to ensure faster cinematic development (Mark Millar, to name one). Comics, action figures, movies, collectibles, mobile apps, videogames: the rule, in the digital era, is to think omni-channel and push cross-selling.

ATTRACT THE BEST TALENT

What are the distinctive qualities of a memorable comic book? Great writing and thrilling art. Talent is what brings your company to higher levels. Thus, employees are as critical as customers. You need to become the innovative place every talent wants to work for; at the same time you need to develop specific programs to empower people and improve employee engagement. So that each share a common vision and become your first loyal fan.

The longevity of Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and their friends and foes with superpowers can be attributed to their passage from simple fictional characters to immortal icons. When you read their stories, you enter an emotional world and share specific and unique values. The same way, the building of a super-brand requires a fine tuning, starting from mobile strategy. This is the mission for which we wake up every day.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How Archetypes Changed How We Think About Digital Customer Experience

The improvement of customer experience is the reason why we crafted the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a useful guide with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. You can download the free paper here:
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Bad Customer Experience: What Is The Real Cost For Your Company?

The customer is always right”, an old motto companies know pretty well. The foundation of every engagement and loyalty strategy. Sure, positive experiences are important, but is it really dangerous to underestimate the impact of unhappy clients?

What is the real cost of a single dissatisfied person trapped in a bad customer experience?

They say mobile technology has given life to a brand new generation of customers: connected, empowered and demanding. They say clients have replaced products as the cornerstone of marketing strategy. What does this mean for your business?

As recently as ten years ago, the conversion path was completely different, more straightforward and easy to understand. Now, with the spread of smartphones, disruptive mobile devices and other smart objects (the so-called Internet of Things), the customer journey map has gone from linear to multi-faceted. As a consequence, the design of a satisfying omni-channel experience becomes all but easy.

CUSTOMERS EVOLVE. DO YOU?

Customer satisfaction is as old as commerce; digital customer experience, however, is way more than just satisfaction or good service. The main reason why so many companies still struggle to deliver amazing experiences is that they keep focusing on the wrong priority: they think about ‘product improvement’ where the key is ‘people empowerment’.

The experience is not carved in stone; it's just a framework shaped day after day, as the sum of client’s perceptions of all interactions he has with your company, across all touch points and devices. As customers evolve, so do their needs or desiders, and the minimum requirements for a positive experience.

85% of business leaders agree that traditional differentiators alone are no longer a sustainable strategy. 71%, in addition, believe that customer experience is the next battleground for competitive brands (Shaw & Ivens). Problem is, there is a huge gap between what they believe they offer and what they ultimately deliver:

  • Only 26% of companies have a well-developed strategy in place to improve customer experience (Econsultancy);

  • 80% of companies say they truly believe they offer a ‘superior’ experience. Only 8% of people think the same companies actually deliver a ‘superior’ experience. (Brad Tuttle, Customer Service Hell).

In one sentence: they commit the 7 deadly sins of customer experience, the seeds of a digital marketing failure.

THE TRUE COST OF BAD EXPERIENCE

The creation of a customer experience management strategy is widely considered expensive. Is it really worth investing in improving the connection with clients? The constant flow of new clients should always overshadow the few that have had a bad experience (in this context, acquisition is considered more critical than retention).

This may have been true in the pre-Internet era, where one-way communication was the norm and interruption the rule (just think about traditional advertising). In the post-Internet era, loyalty delivers the real value; the only chance to overcome the challenge of open markets is to shift from a brand-centric to a customer-centric approach, in the name of inbound methodology.

In the end, customers always punish poor experiences:

  • 86% quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience;

  • 89% began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience;

  • 51% said they would only try to reach support once before giving up a purchase;

  • A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9 to 15 people about the bad experience;

  • 24% of customers who had a poor experience shared the experience through social networks.

Again, bad service is more expensive than you think. It damages your brand identity and costs billions of dollars: 338.5 in the whole world every year, according to CX Impact Report. Financial services, retail, insurance and transportation are the hardest hit industries (Genesys Globar Survey). And keep in mind that only 4% of disappointed customers directly contact the company. Just the tip of a huge iceberg.

THE REWARD OF GOOD EXPERIENCE

There is a new motto for the Age of the Customer: “Customer experience is the new marketing”. We don’t want to deny the value of the traditional 4 P’s of marketing, but it's clear you can’t rely only on price, product, place and promotion to differentiate yourself from competitors and win customers’ heart.

To build a distinct brand image and retain the attention of clients during all steps of their journey, you need something more: engagement and loyalty. And the only way is to build a great experience, unique and fulfilling. Only then will customers reward your efforts, and you will ensure successful performances in the long term.

  • 86% of customers say they are willing to pay more for a better experience;

  • It is 6 times more expensive to acquire a new client than to retain an old one;

  • 78% of customers usually recommend a brand to friends after a great experience;

  • A loyal customer is worth up to 10 times as much as his/her first purchase.

Delivering great customer experiences almost always boils down to one thing: being able to live the connection from your customers’ point of view. This journey begins by understanding what your clients are going through, especially when the experience is not as positive as you thought it was.

Build your business around what matters most: loyal customers.

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The improvement of customer experience is the reason why we crafted the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a useful guide with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. You can download the free paper here:

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How Customer Obsession Will Drive Your Digital Transformation

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Amazon, Starbucks, Nike, Apple, Google: they sell different products; they have peculiar storytelling, identity and archetypes; they are true to distinctive business principles and company mantra.

But one thing they have in common. One single element, more and more critical in this era of technology disruption: they all put their customer at the core of their strategy. They are customer-obsessed brands.

Are you positively obsessed with customers?

Too many brands pay lip service to the importance of a customer-centric approach to marketing, but do they really understand its true implication and impact? Digital transformation for the Age of the Customer requires that you are ready to step in and turn your organization upside down.

We decided that we wanted our brand to not be about shoes, but about delivering the very best customer experience.” With these few words Tony Hsieh, CEO of online shoes and clothing shop Zappos, has summed up the very nature of customer obsession in competitive market environments.

It’s not just the acknowledgement that clients are crucial for success in the short term; it’s a full-time commitment to create genuine engagement in the long term and, ultimately, impact the bottom line by delivering the most amazing customer experience possible. And you can only achieve this goal if you - and your employees - are fully convinced that the customer 'is' your business.

A recent research by Bain & Company reveals the positive effects of customer obsession: a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%. That's why the most loved brands prioritize customer experience: according to Forrester’s Customer Index, 39% of outperforming companies have developed a fully integrated omni-channel strategy, connecting the physical and digital experience.

There is a reason Amazon, Google and Apple lead their industries: they don’t just listen to their customers; they give them a seat at the boardroom table and engage them in a two-way communication, as true partners in the development process.

We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” (Jeff Bezos)

We live in a new era where the decision power has shifted back from brands to the people; an era where one single sale means nothing while loyalty delivers all the value. And numbers tell the whole story. Empowered customers love to be involved:

  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how clients feel they are being treated;
  • 86% of customers say they are willing to pay more for a product/service if they get a better customer experience;
  • 60-70% is the probability of selling to an existing client; just 5-20% is the probability of selling to a new customer;
  • 64% of clients think that customer experience is more critical than price when they need to choose between two or more brands.

So, what do customer-obsessed brands do differently than all others?

ALIGN IDENTITY WITH CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

They don’t just talk, they walk. Customer-obsessed companies know that customer experience management and brand strategy are not responsibility of different departments. They live across the entire organization and contribute to shape consistent identity, storytelling and engagement.

INNOVATE TO IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE

They always listen before they talk. Customer-obsessed companies are well-aware that clients know them more than they know themselves; so they constantly work to innovate and find new ways, new channels and new devices - did you say Apple Watch? - to improve engagement and retain their loyalty. They are never afraid to try.

ADD A HUMAN TOUCH TO THE CONNECTION

They share love. Brands and customers are both absorbed in an increasingly automated ecosystem. Technology sets the schedule of our daily life and the customer journey becomes a melting of digital and analog moments. We are facing the dawn of a human algorithm, where people demand a human connection in their digital customer experience.

ALWAYS PREFER INBOUND TO OUTBOUND

They offer value. Customer-obsessed companies understand that traditional marketing funnels are not efficient anymore. The top-down push strategy may have been perfect with passive consumers; it surely does not work with customers hard to please. Top brands, thereby, are embracing the power of inbound marketing, replacing interruption with attraction.

USE DATA TO GAIN CUSTOMER INSIGHTS

They analyze. Wherever you look, you find a potential source of data, information about competitors, markets and customers. The spread of mobile devices and the Internet of Things will only accelerate the process. Customer-obsessed companies take advantage of Big Data to gain useful insights and improve their output, day after day.

In one sentence (courtesy of Forrester, again): by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. And you will be judged not just by the quality of what you sell, but also - and even more - by the quality of the experience you offer across all touch points and devices.

Start with the customer and work backwards.

To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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3 Social Media Steps To Fix Bad Customer Experience

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No more than a decade ago, companies didn’t really have to worry about the harmful effects of a bad customer experience on brand identity. The reason is simple: we didn’t have Facebook, there was no Twitter, LinkedIn or TripAdvisor.

In the pre-social media era, how many people could an angry customer reach with a negative message about you? Close friends and relatives, in the worst-case scenario. A number between 9 and 15 people. Probably not enough to damage the brand image and ruin your business. Well, those times are long gone.

Facebook & Co. have become so essential that you can’t even talk about a digital or content marketing strategy without including social media. You can't shelter behind those 15 people anymore. Wait just a few minutes after a complaint or a bad comment on your page, and the negative vibes will soon reach thousands of people around the world.

Now consider this:

  • an average Twitter user has 208 followers;

  • an average Facebook user has 350 friends;

  • an average LinkedIn user has 610 connections.

Imagine what would happen if even just a humble 10 percent of those Internet users decides to share with their network a comment about the faulty experience you just offered. In the reality of today’s hyper-connected world, one single bad customer experience might kill you if you can’t deal with it as fast as you can.

This is not to say that brands didn’t care about customer satisfaction before; simply, the effects of a negative review would not spread so far and wide in such a short time. Traditional customer service is not enough powerful to ensure you the ability to deal with the consequences of unhappy clients promptly and properly.

Social media have simply given customers so much power over their connections with businesses that you can only ignore social dynamics at your own peril. Any single channel offers clients a new - easy and different - way to engage with you and share opinions and frustrations; you must cover them all to really know what’s going on around your brand.

It's a fact: more and more clients choose to reveal dissatisfaction about customer experience using these tools, and they won’t wait till they get home to let you know how they feel; they will do it right away, using the apps on their smartphones. In the age of mobile mind shift, the widespread availability of disruptive devices makes it more urgent than ever to answer real-time, wherever they are and whenever they need it.

You can easily see the consequences of this evolution for your business:

  • You can’t hide: whether you like social networks or not, neglect is not the answer. If you ignore them, that doesn’t mean you’re not online. Customers will talk about you anyway. Isn’t it far better if you control the agenda?

  • Advocacy is essential: when any single person can reach hundreds with a single post, customer retention becomes way more critical than acquisition. Loyalty and engagement strategies are keys to cultivate your social presence and nurture your community.

By their very nature, social connections favor a profitable two-ways communication that helps you to fix bad customer experience and encourage positive engagement. Most customers don't expect perfection; they just expect that you work to improve your high standards and take action whenever something goes wrong.

How can you be sure you're moving in the right direction? Starting from the following 3 steps:

LISTEN

Social conversations are going on all the time: some involve you directly and some are out of your control. The best way to know if something is happening is to listen. You need to be monitoring social media platforms, forums and communities all the time. It's a full time duty. Comments and opinions could come from unexpected places, and you don’t want to wait too long to address the next issue. Response time is the key.

RESPOND

There is nothing worse than unanswered posts on Facebook or tweets on Twitter. Customers (almost) never expect that you solve their problems in a couple of minutes, but they surely demand that you are there to take-charge and reassure them. How quickly you can answer will determine the tone of conversation. And once you have found a solution, make it public and let everybody know.

LEARN

The ability to manage social media pressure is not innate. It is half natural instinct and half constant improvement. The evolution of digital relationships makes it necessary to face the new challenges with open eyes and mind. Everyday new social networks born and die, everyday behaviors evolve and customers become more informed and demanding. Don't be afraid to try new solutions and approaches, and rely on analytics data to understand what - and how - you should improve.

At the end of the day, you can keep considering social media as a threat to avoid and fight, or you can understand and embrace the beneficial effects of a proactive social media listening. You don’t have to replace your customer service process but you must consider social connections as vital touch points of your customer journey map. Only then social media will work as your 24/7 public relations agency.

If you want to know how to effectively add social media to your digital customer experience, download the free DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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4 Lessons From Walt Disney To Improve Customer Experience

4 Lessons From Walt Disney To Improve Customer Experience

"What was the most magical experience of your life?"

Ask this question to random people on the street and the name ‘Disney’ will probably come out more than any other. It’s a matter of fact: the Disney brand - and its theme parks above all - is deeply linked with the idea of incredible and memorable experiences. So maybe you should ask to Mickey Mouse & Co. how to improve customer experience.

Despite all the controversy surrounding Walt Disney, there is no doubt that he had a clear - and somewhat ahead of time - business vision. In his picture, on the one hand he saw a place where adults and children could see their fantasies come alive and have fun together; on the other hand he predicted the importance of happy customers as key factor to create a successful company.

If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember this whole thing was started by a mouse.

How can you build a meaningful brand? You don’t want customers to buy your product or service once and for all; you want them to come back, become faithful and loyal supporters, and share the good vibes with relatives and friends, so that they can become customers too. The only way to reach this goal is to focus all your efforts on people and become obsessed by the quality of your customer experience.

Great storytelling plus unforgettable experiences: this is, in a few words, the most critical lesson Disney still teaches to all other businesses, day after day. In order to understand what people want and need, you must get out there, be willing to listen (even the questions you don’t want to hear), and finally institutionalize an approach of continuous learning and improvement to deliver the best customer journey possible.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

As the years pass by, we find ourselves increasingly involved in a digital ecosystem, influenced and altered by disruptive devices - the smartphone, virtual reality headsets, even the smartwatch. Our experience as customers becomes a melting pot of analog and digital moments; even traditional and old-style companies, thus, are forced to rethink their strategies to involve and engage the new empowered client.

At the heart of Disney brand we still find the values shaped long ago by uncle Walt; through the decades, though, managers and marketers have proved the ability to adapt the ‘how’ without touching the ‘why’ and ‘what’: improve the strategy to keep pace with digital transformation while staying true to the true core belief of the founder.

Storytelling and strong identity are, no doubt, the roots of a brand nearly one hundred years old. But that’s not all: there are at least 4 other lessons from Walt Disney, to increase retention and build a better customer experience.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER

You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.

Whatever you do or plan to do, you should always consider the customer first. It's not by coincidence if the first step of inbound marketing is the creation of your business buyer personas: if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you are likely talking to none. That means you’re only wasting time and money.

ALWAYS EXCEED EXPECTATIONS

Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.

When adults and children enter the magic kingdom of Disney, they feel like dreaming. And dreams always far exceed reality. This is a lesson for you: never settle for less than what your customers deserve. Give them what they need it, wherever they are, across all touch points. Adopt a proactive approach to answer before they even ask for your help.

NEVER-ENDING OPTIMIZATION

I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want to feel they’re in another world.

Long-lasting success always lies in the details. We all know the absolute obsession Walt Disney had for every single detail, in movies as in theme parks. You should have the same obsession and willingness to optimize products, identity, service, channels, online and mobile presence. In hyper-competitive markets, you only lose when you stop experimenting.

A BRAND IS MADE OF PEOPLE

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.

When you connect with a company, the only aspect of the business you see is employees. Walt Disney was well-aware of the relevance of employees to drive and share core values. Company’s culture is always a shared purpose, and the front line is your bottom line: there is no real change without employee engagement. Your workers are your first customers.

Do you truly understand what customers want? Clients will want to return only if you can offer an incredible overall experience. Whether you are a traditional retailer, an E-Commerce firm, a B2B company or a digital brand, unleash the child and embrace the power of magic. Because magic is timeless, indeed.

To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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Make The Digital Customer Experience Of You Your One Big Thing

Among the innumerable truths that Shakespeare told us in his vision of life and humanity, in Hamlet he offered one of his sagest counsels: “Know thyself and to thine self be true.

If you don’t understand what makes you uniquely you – if you don’t know yourself – how can others perceive your greatness, your unique and distinctive value and contribution? Make the digital customer experience of you your One Big Thing.

For professionals and companies, being the distinctive exception means delivering value to your clients or customers. And while more in general you are the sum total of your genetics and environment plus your personal push, I’m more interested here in understanding how you move past your genetics and environment to chart a course that brings out your potential for genius and unique contribution to society.

You, as most of the people, have a huge unused potential. Look at any young child at play and you will see a genius at work. It is estimated that 98% of five years olds score higher in the creative genius range on standardized tests. By age 10, only 32% achieve this. Where has all the genius gone?

Some researchers believe that the capacity for genius is actively programmed out of us as we advance through formal education. By teaching us to conform at every step of our development, society is cutting away those brain synapses, which form the basis for the creative genius you were. As an adult, the paths you choose are limited by this earlier cutting.

Nature, nurture and navigation — instead of working together to create unique individuals with vast potential — work in opposition to each other, creating adults with vast amounts of unused potential that are just about average.

But what does this mean to you today? Is it too late to change your potential and leverage the huge innovation that has been made available to make the difference? The answer is yes and no.

You cannot do a great deal to change how nature or nurture have framed your essence, but you can master today’s navigation choices. And you can answer a first big questions: “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Where do I excel and what could I be “the best in the world at doing?” This question addresses your primary strengths.

If you can answer this first big question, you are on track to finding your purpose in life – your “One Big Thing”.

The second big question is “How do I get noticed?” – that is, “How do I get my voice heard?”, “How do I get my One Big Thing on the other people’s radar?”, “How can I deliver the best digital customer experience of me?” This second big question is as important as the first. You may know what your purpose should be, but unless you stand out from the crowd, in a world where it is increasingly difficult to do so, your One Big Thing will never become a reality.

Discover your One Big Thing, your special purpose – the niche that is perfect for you – so you don’t waste your years going up and down like a jojo devoting your precious time to other’s matter that do not interest you, if not to take home a salary; but we both know that this may not be enough.

When you discover your purpose and take active steps to pursue it, you will become filled with energy, determination and courage. You will jump out of bed each morning, ready to take charge of the day. Your life will have renewed meaning.

And once you’ll have find you One Big Thing, or it will have found you, take care of Your Personal Brand, as the express checkout for you to live your life at ever increasing speed. Your personal brand should communicate something singular. Every aspect of your life and biography should support your brand. To build your brand, remember:

  • Visibility is just as important as ability” – you may be extremely talented at what you do and have a clear, meaningful One Big Thing, but if people don’t know about you or your purpose, you will never achieve your dreams.
  • You can’t brand a lie” – Be authentic. People will sense when your brand and identity do not align.
  • In a media-driven culture, being different is everything” – No one is exactly like you. Celebrate and promote your uniqueness. Communicate who you are and what makes you special.

As Helen Keller, blind and deaf American author, used to say: “Life is either a great adventure or it’s nothing.

Be epic. Make the digital customer experience of you your One Big Thing.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Top 3 Digital Customer Experience Tools For Innovative Strategies

If you don't know who you are and what makes you special, you won't be able to build a compelling customer experience. To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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The 10 Commandments (+1) of Customer Experience Management

lego_commandments

In the Age of the Customer, nothing is more sacred than clients. Customers are the primary source of success and reward; at the same time they are - or should be - the ultimate reason why you do business.

Customer experience management, thus, become critical to engage them and win their unconditional love. And here are the 10 commandments to improve this two-ways connection, starting with their satisfaction and ending with your competitive advantage.

After discussing the 7 deadly sins of a bad customer experience, with the commandments we keep on exploring the ‘religious’ side of digital marketing. Far from wanting to hurt believers’ feeling, we rather wish to emphasize the critical role of people in that process - mostly guided by disruptive technologies - that will decide who wins and loses the race to customer’s attention in overcrowded markets.

While we stress the importance of this customer-centric era, too many companies still think that technology, product and brand identity make the real core of business. But technology is just a tool, not the final mean; a well designed product is worthless, if nobody will buy it; and brand identity is nothing but the result of what people say, narrate and share about it (on social media, for instance).

If markets shift into conversations, all brands transform into - whether they like it or not - publishers, and it becomes easy to lose the grip on communications interrupted by constant ground noise. Customers receive way too many messages, coming from different channels and sources. As a consequence, companies are forced to think and act fast to give them feedback and high-quality answers whenever they need it.

Digital channels allow customers to control how and when - if ever - they will engage with your brand. As a marketers, you have less and less control over that communication, and the ability to create and sustain amazing customer experiences at every touch point is not considered extraordinary. It’s routine for customers empowered by mobile devices and accustomed to receive what they want when they want it.

Let's mix the sacred with the profane, then, defining a list of the 10 commandments of customer experience management. And if you think there is something missing, please feel free to comment.

  1. Customers come first - everything you do, you do it for customers. Work to solve their problems, fulfill their desires and give more than expected.
  2. Ask, don't tell - innovative brands always listen to what customers are telling. Don't be afraid to ask to yourself critical questions, even the ones you don't want to hear.
  3. Help, don't sell - when people connect with you, they don't want you to sell them stuff; they ask for your help. Only then will come the conversion, and customers will live happily ever after.
  4. Map the journey - you will never really understand your clients if you don't map the customer journey to analyze the touch points they go through when they decide to engage with you.
  5. Be true to yourself - your identity is the foundation on which to build your storytelling, content marketing and engagement strategy. Be coherent and respect your true why.
  6. Stay memorable - people judge brands not just for what they produce and sell but, even most important, for the omni-channel experience they create for customers. Stay epic!
  7. Put human touch - automation (Internet of Things, i.e.) can be really helpful to overcome the challenge of digital transformation, but never forget to put a human touch in the relationship with real people.
  8. Act before react - the best way to shape a memorable customer experience is to adopt a proactive approach and work to fix the problems before they even happen.
  9. Don't treat all as one - in an era of standardization, the worst thing you could do is to treat all customers as one. One-to-one communication and personalization are the keys to customer retention.
  10. Involve employees - you will never win customers' heart if you don't conquer your employees first. Treat them well and make them feel like they're a critical part of the brand.

All these commandments can be summed in one last rule (+1):

  • +1. Change your mindset - from telling customers what you want them to hear to listening to them and understand what they want and need.

Only then you will build engaging conversations, and yours will be the kingdom. Translated in business terms: you will benefit from a growing flow of satisfied and loyal customers that will spread the good vibes, return to buy more and close the circle from strangers to promoters.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The 7 Deadly Sins of a Bad Customer Experience

Mobile optimization is a major duty for companies aiming at connecting with people of the Age of the Customer. To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

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