You can design your customer experience around getting people to “opt in.”
You can try and get them to “convert” from prospects or browsers into paying customers.
Or you could take a cue from online dating apps and ask: what does it take to make customers “swipe right?”
At ContentSquare’s CX Circle event in New York, brands ranging from American Express (Amex) to Zoom and Norwegian Cruise Line admitted they all aspire for that level of instant connection with customers. And their approach is informed by the brands that make them swipe right in their personal lives.
“I think of it as kind of like a first click – meaning, the minute you land somewhere, you get what you need,” said Alexandra London, Zoom’s head of digital. She cited her former employer Expedia, which makes it fast and easy to book a vacation. In the business-to-business (B2B) world, however, it should be just as easy to subscribe to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool, she added.
Kellay Buckelew, Norwegian Cruise Line’s VP of digital experience, agreed that accelerating the time to value is critical. He pointed to brands like Chick Fil A, which have simplified the process of choosing whether to dine in or order delivery with just two buttons. But he doesn’t have to press that button every time.
“My favorites are right there,” he said. “I don’t like getting to the end of the day and I get the reminder, ‘Your average screen time this week was four and a half hours.’ Any brand that can help me get away from that and spend more time in the real world – that’s what I’m looking for.”
Swipe right-worthy CX is not just about speed and ease of use, however. Ayuna Tckachenko VP of digital analytics & experimentation at Amex, said she also looks for immersive experiences that create memories in an unexpected context. A good example is Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, a resort where guests can go ice skating, roast marshmallows, enjoy train rides and meet cheerful holiday characters.
“Trust me: it’s not easy to create the magic of Christmas in the middle of the desert,” she said. “It’s really about the seamlessness (of the experience) and how beautiful it is. And I also really enjoyed the fact that they’re focusing a lot on digital accessibility.”
Most brands would like to be equally strong in terms of the apps and other mobile experiences they offer, but London was the first to admit it’s not that easy. Conversion rates through mobile channels often underperform in comparison to desktop across many journeys, she said, in part because they involve a variety of touchpoints.
“It’s not only the mobile device. Users also have wearable devices. They have smart devices at home. They have virtual reality and augmented reality devices,” she said. “We are creating a lot of micro experiences across all of these devices. How we can do that in a way that offers a seamless overall experience for customers?”
Buckelew suggested that digitally-native or digital-only brands have to be particularly on point with how they engage customers on mobile, but the same urgency could soon spread to those that also operate in the real world.
“If you’re offering a physical experience or physical product, and you have a great brand recognition, you get you get a little bit more leniency, but I don’t think that’s going to last very long,” he said. “We’re kind of at the end of that golden age. It will be gone very quickly and we all better be ready.”
Improving mobile CX also needs to take into account the different journeys for those in business-to-business (B2B) roles versus the consumer world. While a consumer might make a purchase immediately after visiting a mobile landing page, a B2B shopper might need to go back to a buying committee with dozens of members and go through a five-month procurement process.
“Don’t underestimate that you’ve got to factor in both audiences along the way, because when they come to your site, you don’t know right away if they are b2b or b2c until they start to engage with you,” she said.
Even a more consumer-focused brand like Norwegian Cruise Line needs to adjust based on a range of personas, Buckelew said. This includes “Savvy Sophie” who does all the research to book a cruise, as well as “Sidekick Sammy” who is merely consulted at some point. Then there’s “Comfort Chris,” who only logs onto the cruise line’s mobile or desktop web site to find the right phone number to call and make a booking.
Tckachenko said these customer journeys might be better described as “user pathways,” where digital analytics can be used to determine how customers jump from web sites to apps and even offline channels such as a store or surface mail.
“We can talk about AI and a lot of other tools, but it’s also about getting the basics,” she said. “Do you have the right data quality? Do you have all the right processes in place? And do you have cultural experimentation to fuel the innovation on the right experiences for your customers?”
If the answer to any of those questions is “No,” better get to work – before customers start swiping left.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.