The consumer experience is no longer isolated to support silos and traditional sales tactics. With that shift comes a transition from self-proclaimed ad men and hours spent poring over Dichter-inspired focus group analytics to a much more fast-paced yet holistic approach to consumer strategy. In other words, move over Mad Men—there’s a new standard, and it’s called the intelligent customer experience.
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A Holistic CX Approach
Per Deloitte’s recent CMO survey, marketing budgets constitute an average of 11% of a company’s total budget. However, it’s clear that a comprehensive approach to customer service and marketing is an integral aspect of company strategy—CX leaders continue to outperform their competitors, growing their revenue by 17%.
Intelligent CX is best summarized as an interconnected, consumer-focused marketing, sales, and support system. Companies are redefining the customer experience and bringing the consumer funnel full circle with intelligent CX functionalities like machine learning algorithms, O2O programs, SEO-driven strategies, data science, and UX-friendly copy.
When intelligent CX is implemented correctly, each stage of the funnel informs the others to create a continuous feedback loop for improvement and innovation.
An intelligent customer experience connects four stages of the customer journey: Find, Buy, Ask, and Advocate. When intelligent CX is implemented correctly, each stage informs the others to create a continuous feedback loop for improvement and innovation.
- Find: Customers become exposed to a brand, goods, or services. Brands that excel in the Find stage analyze past conversion paths to inform strategy and tactics.
- Buy: Shoppers take action and become customers. Individuals pick up the phone, engage over chat, or order online. It is crucial to maximize performance and services as the Buy stage directly impacts revenue.
- Ask: Customers reach out to support services. If a company does it well, and consistently, customers are more likely to stay on with the brand long-term. However, according to a report by NewVoiceMedia, poor customer service costs businesses $75 billion a year in lost revenue.
- Advocate: Individual consumers transform from customers into ambassadors. Ambassadors—both intentionally and unintentionally—help build brand reputation online and in person. Their advocacy helps drive interest back to the Find stage, perpetuating the cycle.
This approach to creating intelligent customer experiences allows brands to better cater to existing and target customers, alleviating friction and solidifying brand loyalty. Some companies are particularly adept at a specific area of the intelligent CX process, while others are better able to tie together the entire process. When you look at companies creating intelligent customer experiences, a few stand out from the rest.
Here are the top five companies we think are doing intelligent CX right:
- American Express—Ask
- Clearlink—Find, Buy, Ask, and Advocate
Our methodology is based on a variety of research factors. To start, we assessed each company’s case studies, approaches, strategies, smart systems, and analytics. We also took into account how a company reacted to and implemented customer feedback. All of these aspects helped us determine a company’s intelligent CX standing in regards to our list.
Despite having 130 billion subscribers with unique preferences, Netflix manages to provide an individually curated user experience to help customers find their next favorite show, takes the stress out of decision-making, and makes it easy to stream media. And as a result, the company has totally altered the way consumers find (and expect to find) new media and suggestions.
In order to create these personalized experiences and ensure a successful business strategy, Netflix utilizes intelligent CX tactics to anticipate and find media for the user, thus eliminating friction points along the way. Netflix’s recommendation algorithm is based on varied, accumulated data ranging from search results, previous viewing experience, and time spent in the Netflix app—resulting in an extremely dexterous and personalized feed for the consumer.
In fact, Netflix estimates that 75% of media consumption on the platform is due to this algorithm. Because imagery is the biggest influencer in a person’s decision to watch content, the site has also begun tailoring images to your specific viewer habits. So, the next time you hop into your Netflix app, take a second to appreciate the algorithm behind your feed—it does know you better than you think.
Amazon, the second-largest retailer in the world, secured its position by providing a consistently streamlined, intuitive shopping experience for consumers. Like Netflix, the retail giant has removed stress from the shopping equation. To provide such an experience, Amazon offers intelligent features such as its iconic 1-Click purchase option—which fundamentally altered the e-commerce landscape and laid the groundwork for predictive ordering and voice control.
The retailer prides itself on providing the best customer experience possible. To aid busy shoppers and empower them to order items quickly, Amazon offers recommendations based on previous buying habits and created products like the Household Dash Button and voice-assisted items such as Echo. And consumers are loving these new options—in 2016 alone, Amazon sold 11 million Echo devices. Amazon is able to provide these features by utilizing tactics such as machine learning, data analytics, and predictive modeling to directly address and resolve frustrations often experienced within the consumer funnel. In turn, these tech items coupled with Amazon’s intelligent CX approach promote a smarter, faster approach to shopping and help reduce pain points in the purchasing cycle.
As the adage goes, “time is money, and money is time.” At American Express, that sentiment is put directly to the test. By proactively predicting and answering customers’ questions through the convenience of its mobile app, the company is able to subtly encourage customers to make smarter decisions on the fly.
Bridging the gap between time spent finding resources and money is a crucial component of American Express’s success. To help ease the frustration and stress often affiliated with monetary decisions, American Express supports customers by predicting their next moves and offering fiscal guidance through its real-time alerts, savings options, and rewards management. Intelligent CX methodologies, like data analytics, prediction models, and machine learning, make customer support services possible. Additionally, to differentiate itself from competitors, the company optimizes machine learning within the AMEX app to aggregate data and location information and offer unbiased restaurant recommendations based on the customer’s previous purchases.
Search for “music streaming” on Google and you’ll find any number of platforms to choose from: users clearly want fast and easy access to music. At the top of the search engine results, you’ll see “Spotify: Music for everyone.” Spotify has made it easy for anyone to find and share music. Customers simply sign up for a platform of their choosing, pay a monthly or yearly fee, and begin their musical journey. Spotify has 40 million active users streaming music at any time, making it even easier to share music with friends and family.
Spotify’s approach is multifaceted. To start, the company allows artists to view aggregated data (for optimization) and encourages users, based on Facebook or Google connections, to follow friends and check out their listening habits. This effectively translates into individual users endorsing particular musicians or genres. Additionally, Spotify makes it easy for users to collaborate on playlists or share music with other users. And to ensure that the experience remains personalized, Spotify uses data analytics, prediction models, and machine learning to offer simple suggestions like “Your Daily Mix” or “Discover Weekly,” thus allowing the company to position itself as a personal consultant for your musical journey.
Clearlink—Bringing CX Full Circle
Clearlink is able to connect all stages of the consumer funnel and deliver consistent results thanks to intelligent CX strategies.
To start, we use extensive testing and conversion rate optimization alongside our comprehensive Customer Experience Database to help users find our brand partners easier and faster. We then take the aggregated data and apply it directly to the buying funnel, making sure that a brand’s product or service is given a frictionless path to purchase based on the user’s specific journey. We use proven conversion tactics to optimize support content for consumers asking additional questions about services or those who want to conduct more research before buying.
Intelligent CX means connecting all stages of the consumer funnel to deliver consistent results, turning browsers into shoppers and shoppers into advocates.
The information acquired at the Ask stage is then applied directly to the sales experience to inform future marketing strategies. The entire process is a closed-loop feedback circuit that improves with each cycle. In turn, this approach provides a synergetic experience for the consumer and the brand, allowing Clearlink to continue optimizing and implementing feedback, which transforms consumers into brand advocates. By implementing these intelligent CX strategies, we are able to create better experiences for our brand partners and our customers.
The next time you log into Amazon, swipe your American Express card, or share a Spotify playlist with friends, consider the intelligent CX strategies that were implemented so that you, the user, could carry on and enjoy life without much fuss, foible, or frustration.