Customer brand experience, whether good or bad, can have long-term effects on subscription-first customers. 73% of consumers cite a positive experience as integral to brand loyalty. And companies that offer it outperform competitors that lag by 80%.
In this post, we’ll explain why brand customer experience should be a top priority, and what today’s shoppers are looking for.
What Does Your Customer Want to Experience?
In an episode of CPG podcast The Shelf Life called Customer Hat, they interview CX and retention expert Eli Weiss. In it, Weiss explains how many brands approach customer experience wearing a “brand hat” — the brand’s point of view. However, he says that’s a mistake, because it often fails to tell the whole story. Instead, it’s important to approach the customer experience from the customer’s point of view, which he calls wearing a “customer hat.”
There are certain elements today’s customers look for in the way they interact with a brand to think, “Yeah, this is the one.” These elements can differ depending on the industry or niche, but the core principles are the same.
Here are some common examples.
Understanding the requirements of Subscriptions
At a glance, a customer needs to understand what they’re agreeing upon by signing up. Weiss mentions, for example, how a disconnect often happens when a customer clicks on a box, thinking it’s agreeing on legal requirements, but it’s actually a long-term subscription they unwillingly get locked into.
Say there’s an issue where a customer can’t get exactly what they want, such as their full money back. Even if a customer service rep isn’t able to provide a full resolution, being compassionate and treating the person as an individual rather than using an overtly scripted response can lead to a better customer brand experience.
75% of respondents in a customer service survey said a quick response is the most important element of customer service.
Flexibility and Customization
Being able to adjust products, change the frequency of shipments, or skip a shipment is critical to providing quality customer service. Upscribe, for instance, offers a best-in-class customer portal where customers can seamlessly make changes to their subscriptions.
Ideally, brands will solve a problem before a customer even realizes they have one.
Convenience vs Experience: When to Prioritize
Convenience is different from experience. Take, for example, a food delivery subscription, which is more about convenience. Even if your app was wonderfully built and helped a customer choose the right food for the right time of day, the experience wouldn’t matter if the food arrived late or they received the wrong food. That would be a major inconvenience.
A critical part of delivering a great brand customer experience is to identify where customers prefer convenience over experience, and vice versa. If a customer was primarily concerned with speed and self-service (think Amazon), the focus would be on convenience, with little need for human interaction. But if a customer was more concerned with a high level of personalization and choosing products perfectly tailored to their needs (like choosing the right mix of health products), the focus would be more on experience and may involve more human interaction.
How Customer Experiences Affect Your Brand
As we mentioned earlier, nearly three out of four customers say positive experiences factor heavily into brand loyalty. The type of experience someone has can leave a long-lasting impression in their mind. If a subscription brand delivers bad experiences over time, this puts customer retention at stake.
Say, for instance, a customer wants to slow down the frequency of their subscription, but they struggle to make the change in their customer portal and encounter a lot of friction. They may still hang around for a while longer after getting the situation resolved. However, there’s a good chance the negative experience will sour their perception of the brand, and they may end their subscription earlier than they would if they could make the change instantly with zero hassle.
Given that a third of consumers say they’ll consider switching companies after just one encounter with poor service, this shows how essential it is to provide a consistently positive experience. So, how does a brand deliver the best customer experience?
Create an Emotional Connection
This largely overlaps with what we discussed with compassion earlier. In particular, Weiss talks about the importance of framing interactions between customer service reps and customers as one-on-one, rather than “the brand” and the customer.
Build Strong Relationships
Key elements include going beyond customer service expectations, rewarding loyalty, and looking for continual feedback while showing you genuinely care.
An example could be giving customers a single-page application to edit their subscription info, adjust order details, and rename their subscription without unnecessary back-and-forthing.
Research has found that 80% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers high personalization. For new customers, this could mean giving them plenty of options to choose the ideal subscription plan, shipping frequency, shipping method, etc. And for existing customers, you could look at their purchase history and preferences to offer relevant deals, discounts, and product suggestions to maximize their value.
Rinse and Repeat: Improving Experiences is the Key
One last thing to point out is that most customers subconsciously expect a better experience over time. Like any relationship, as more rapport is built and trust is established, customers can’t help but raise their expectations. That’s why it’s important to always build on existing brand loyalty and aim for further acquisitions.
Shoe and clothing company Zappos is a great example of a brand that has won over countless customers by simply optimizing the customer experience. One of its most notable strategies is not measuring call time and not having reps use scripts, because the brand trusts its employees when handling calls. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih had stated, “We want our reps to let their true personalities shine during each phone call, so they can develop a personal emotional connection with the customer.”
There are two main ways to improve experiences. One is continually asking your customers for feedback via surveys, emails, and social media for direct input. The other is to implement advanced analytics to understand metrics like subscriber churn, new subscriptions, cancellations, paused accounts, and most popular products.
Brand customer experience has a massive impact on how subscription-first customers perceive you, and can make or break your business. Aligning your processes with what your customers want and continually refining them is the key to optimizing the customer brand experience and sets the foundation for long-term success.
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