NMPignite: Creating Exceptional Experiences

Great experience drives great performance, but with so many touchpoints and variables plus an ever-increasing amount of data, how do we pull it all together to create exceptional experiences that drive customer loyalty? We sat down with Claire Rampen, Head of Growth & Digital at Beryl, Elizabeth Vince, Creative Agency Lead at Google, Amy-Lee Cowey, Senior eCommerce Manager for Charlotte Tilbury, and Craig Brown, Performance Development Director at NMPi to ask the hard questions and deep dive into what creates captivating connections.  

Q: Are we making too much of a big deal out of customer experience?

The running theme throughout everyone’s responses is that customer experience has to be at the forefront of everything you do. Teams across your business have to make sure that customer experience is one of the first things they consider. As Craig notes, there is no such thing as good customer service anymore. Customers expect their experiences to be good, so they only call you out if it’s bad. You might be able to drive the best traffic in the world, but if the user has a bad experience on site you’ll never be able to get them to convert. On top of this, Claire argues that there is a second tier to this. You’re not only trying to get customers to convert but make them advocates for your brand, and ensure they stay loyal.

And the importance of customer experience is reflected industry-wide. Creative eCommerce and Brand Experience & Activation are now their own categories at Cannes. The industry itself is seeing how crucial this is for brands and advertisers, and we would do well to adopt Google’s number one principle: focus on the user and all else will follow.

Q: What are the challenges and barriers that you face?

Working in separate industries, our panellists face separate and distinct barriers. Beryl looks at how to get all the data together in a way that you can trust it, something Claire doesn’t believe anyone has cracked yet. One thing she does note is that the legacy behind established businesses often holds them back in this regard.

Reiterating comments from Fred Maude’s earlier presentation, Elizabeth reminds us of how easy it is for consumers to switch off and even switch to one of your competitors. They have so much more control than ever before and are much more likely to change channels if they want to avoid your advert for example. However, if they love something they will happily binge it. If a customer is leaning in and engaging with your advertising and brand, give them more to let them engage and roll with it.

From an agency perspective, Craig discusses his experiences with barriers in the industry. Often, he sees cases where brands don’t want to adapt to the point where it can become dangerous. Rigidity is great for brands as it allows them to keep their identities and inspire brand advocates, an incredibly important factor for retailers, but if they don’t adapt to what the customers want then you’ll start running into problems. In many cases, digital is much further down the line than you would expect and so they are often left with branding and creative that doesn’t appeal to the customer they want to reach.

Q: How do you effectively measure the success of your tactics?

The problem with measurement is that different things matter to different companies. Amy-Lee explains that Charlotte Tilbury is more than happy being a content-led brand, but this will never help with KPIs. This is obviously not the same for all retailers, and so it can feel that measurement is sort of arbitrary without a universal benchmark.

Each customer is different, and they interact with your brand in different ways. So something that is important to measure is the loyalty within separate categories. For example, a customer who just buys mascara is very different to a customer who buys foundation. Retaining these customers is one important metric to measure, but if you can graduate a customer from mascara to foundation, this is an even greater success.

Elizabeth’s advice is just to let your customers do the talking – this is the best way to understand how effective your campaigns are, and helps you to test and experiment with new content.

Q: How do we ensure consumers have a seamless experience both online and offline?

Craig argues that many businesses aren’t doing enough to set themselves up to create a coherent online/offline customer experience. A good starting point is to begin to understand the movement of the customer between online and offline, and what is bringing them into the store – something that media can really help with. If you know that it’s your higher-end products that are bringing people in store, which is often the case, then you know that you need to push that.

Before you start preparing this kind of approach, it is important to note that without a single customer-view, an omnichannel approach that covers both online and offline is redundant. You also need to ensure you’re doing as much data capture in store to build out a greater understanding of your customer.

Once you’re ready to begin rolling out an omnichannel approach, it’s difficult to know where to start. One technique that Amy-Lee recommends is a triangular experience of consuming online content, first-time purchasing in store before the consumer replenishes their supplies online.

The key piece of advice that came up repeatedly throughout the discussion was the importance of breaking down silos. It is silos that often create barriers to exceptional experiences across many different parts of the customer journey. Keep your silos in check and the rest is sure to follow.