R-E-S-P-E-C-T: That was the signature song for noted soul singer Aretha Franklin in 1967 and the cornerstone today for successful CMOs who serve consumers. Usability testing and software research tool company UserTesting conducted a study of the top 11 brands globally to understand what set them apart from their competitors. To qualify, these brands had to appear on at least two of their industries premier CX indexes like NPS B2C Leaders Report or Forrester’s CX Index. The 11 included Apple, Starbucks, Google, Coca-Cola, Lexus, USAA, Target, Nike, Zappos, Costco, and Edward Jones and interviews with 242 professionals in the U.S. and UK.
What UserTesting discovered were five significant distinctions that set the leaders apart from the rest of the field. They included employees, in-person experiences, seamless touchpoints, great CX, and connecting emotionally. Here’s a look at each.
When excellent customer experience and an engaged workforce are brought together, meaningful connections are established with customers. A separate Tenkin Group study not only confirmed that but discovered that employees at great CX companies are engaged with customers 150% more than at less than satisfactory companies. USAA sends its new employees to an actual boot camp at which they eat the same pre-packaged meals as troops and work with a real drill sergeant to get a feel of the audience they’ll be helping.
Despite the popularity of online shopping, many consumers told pre-pandemic surveys that they preferred to shop in-store. 81% of Gen Z customers told A.T. Kearny researchers said that it was their preference. 60% of all ages polled expressed the same preference for a Google/Ipsos survey. More recent data makes it appear likely that those numbers may have softened since the pandemic, but it’s clear that many people still prefer the touchy/feely experience one only gets in-store.
Creating seamless omnichannel experiences is probably the most difficult hurdle for many brands. The leading brands leverage it to assist customers in every step of their journey, from researching a product to interacting with chatbots for customer service wishes and other needs. Apple, Lexus, and Target cited seamless continuity as the reason customers keep returning.
Taking the customer experience a step further by making CX seem tailored won high praise from customers of USAA, Edward Jones, and Lexus. Earlier articles discussed the positive effect tailoring could have, and a study by PWC added another good reason. The tax and consulting services firm said its survey showed that an overwhelming 86% of consumers are willing to pay more if it means they’ll have a better customer experience. In fact, the same survey revealed that nearly half (49%) made impulse buys after having a more personalized experience.
Emotions are key to forging meaningful and long-lasting connections with customers. That’s why storytelling is also important. Consider that 60% of customers use emotional language in describing their connection with a favorite brand, according to Deloitte Digital. Author and Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman attributed emotions to 95% of purchasing decisions.
There are examples of why following the leader doesn’t always apply or work. Still, these five differentiators appear to apply to any brand seeking to achieve higher levels of sales success. Or, in the words of Rand Fishkin, author and CEO of SEOmoz, “The best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.”
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