How Technology Impacts Customer Engagement

Is technology changing to meet consumers’ evolving needs or are consumers changing as a result of what technology enables? Like the chicken and the egg, it really doesn’t matter which came first. Consumer expectations and technology will keep changing, and if your brand is too chicken to keep up, you may be left with egg on your face (pun intended). Read on to learn why sharpening your digital CX is essential to your business survival.

It used to be that manufacturers made products and consumers only had a few choices. Take TV for instance. While many of us were growing up, there were just the big three networks. Then came cable, with hundreds of choices. Today, there are more than 2,000 other streaming channels on multiple platforms. Consumers have a plethora of product options—in most cases, too many—to choose from.

As a result, the product itself often becomes secondary in the decision process. Today, consumers say that the customer experience (CX) is even more important than the product. A brand that makes the selection and shopping experience faster, easier, more fun, or otherwise more rewarding, will have an edge.

What do you know about your customers’ experience in buying your product? And how does technology improve (or detract from) that experience?

It All Starts with the Customer

It is more important than ever to have a deep understanding of your key customers, whether those are your B2B customers, their customers, or your own B2C customers. How well do you know the steps these audiences take to even consider your product? What are the triggers that get them to consider doing a project? What are the key resources they use to gain information? And what are the good and bad experiences (pain points) along their journey?

This is important because those pain points can cause a customer to abandon your brand, or even the overall purchase. Data shows that 89% of consumers are willing to leave a brand over one bad experience. Not only can it cost you the sale, but they may also influence countless others by sharing a review—and 93% of consumers read reviews religiously to guide even small purchase decisions. So, it’s important to understand the customer’s journey and any pain points along the way, and then make sure your team solves for them proactively.

The Power of Focus

With more physical and digital customer touchpoints than ever, it’s necessary to understand where to hyper-focus your efforts. Your product is not for all customers, and not all customers are alike. You don’t want or need to market to all of them. That’s why you need to focus on discovering the optimal customers to engage with (and in what geographies). That’s where a comprehensive customer understanding—audience profiles or personas—comes into play.

A persona is a deep and very targeted profile of a specific type of customer that gives you the information you need to determine what customers are best aligned with your brand and how to engage more relevantly and powerfully with them.

We create personas for our clients’ key audiences to provide a foundation of knowledge. This enables their marketing team to know specifically who they are marketing to, the sales team to focus on who they should target, and operations and engineers to better assess who they are designing products for. All 80,000 builders are not the same, nor are the 100,000+ contractor companies. The same goes for architects, designers, and of course homeowners. The more you can focus on exactly who your organization should target, the more optimized your CAPEX and SG&A dollars will be spent.

Once you know who you are focusing on and what’s important to them, now you can utilize available technology to engage more deeply and relevantly with them.

7 Success Drivers

The following key drivers will help you have more success by leveraging the right technology to build a strong CX strategy.

1. Value Their Time

Wasting a customer’s time is a top reason they may abandon a purchase or a brand. Look for available technology platforms to guide the search and selection process (deselect irrelevant options, and offer the most relevant products), address their main pain points, provide clear wayfinding to locate solutions quickly, and make the purchase seamless.

2. Adopt an Always-On Strategy

A good CX means being available when your customers need you. That doesn’t mean you need to be open 24/7, but that you’ve put systems in place to help customers find information, register a complaint, get technical assistance or place an order whenever it’s best for them. When live help isn’t available, technologies can help fill the gap. From chatbots to automated customer service and technical support to how-to videos, invest in technologies and platforms that prevent delays and dead ends to keep your customers feeling valued and coming back for more. Remember, if you’re not available to engage, chances are your competition will be.

3. Connect The Dots

Consumers now expect you to be present where they are, not the other way around, we as manufacturers call that creating an omnichannel experience. Lack of presence or consistency of the CX with your brand creates confusion, which causes purchase abandonment. The average retail abandonment rate is nearly 70% online across all industries. In-store abandonment is harder to quantify, but many believe it’s well north of 35%. Make sure your brand and CX are present, consistent, and more importantly connected at every touchpoint on the consumer’s journey. Consumers will leave a brand if it is not connected all the way through their process to the platform they end up purchasing on.

4. Stay Socially Relevant

Social has progressed from a personal sharing platform to a purchasing platform. 87% of e-commerce shoppers now use social media to help make a shopping decision. Nearly 55% of consumers have made purchases via social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and yes, Tik Tok. (The latter has 31 billion active users each month and 39 billion posts about home renovation and DIY projects). Brands that actively engage their customers on social in a relevant and meaningful way create a seamless path between inspiration and purchase, which drives a higher level of conversion.

5. Get Personal

Consumers want personalized offerings served up to them in a curated fashion. And they’re willing to share their personal information to make it possible. From customized nutritional supplements to designer-chosen home décor, consumers love feeling that products have been specially selected to meet their particular needs and preferences—without having to wade through endless choices on their own. And they don’t want to buy just a single product—they want complete, holistic solutions that cater to their life. That’s why curated offerings convert to a purchase 40% better than one-at-a-time product offerings. And it’s not just promoting your product “system”. Be open to partnerships that align to the customer’s overall project.

6. Provide Guidance, Not Just Products

The opportunity for most manufacturers lies in the upfront part of the process (project consideration, inspiration sources, and specific project wish-booking). We as an industry focus way too much on self-promoting product features versus connecting to the consumer’s personal situation they are trying to solve. Helping consumers understand how to navigate product choices and providing easy comparisons tied to true benefits (not just features) are important. For instance, if a consumer embeds you into the process (say a Pinterest board) early on in their process, there is a more than 70% chance they will end up purchasing your product. Using technology and data to create engagement and value upfront in the consideration phase of the journey will drive conversion and loyalty on the back end, and oh yea, more profit.

7. Help Them See It

Consumers want to have confidence in their decision and technology can deliver that confidence. They want to physically see something in place before they buy—a shirt on their unique physique, or a chair in their specific living room. Hence the growth of augmented reality (AR). Today, 32% of online users have used AR for shopping, and these users convert 90% more than non-AR users, and with a higher value mix of products (translation: more profit for you). Investing in technologies that enable consumers to see your product in real-time in the real environment can be the powerful confidence-builder you need to get the sale.

It's not enough to just make a great product anymore; that’s merely table stakes. Experience is everything, and technology is empowering companies to connect with customers in more frequent, more relevant and more powerful ways. Marketers who understand the customer experience and embed it throughout their organization can leverage technology solutions to make every aspect of the journey faster, simpler and more satisfying. Create a better experience, drive deeper engagement, close more sales, get better reviews … make more profit. Rinse and repeat.

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