There was a time not too long ago when all that mattered was the product. In fact, a quality product was enough to leave consumers with a positive experience of a brand.

Then the digital world exploded! The always-on digital and mobile world we live in has completely shattered that simple customer experience. What makes consumers happy today goes way beyond how they feel about your product alone. In fact, 76 percent of adults say having a positive experience with a brand is just as important as the experience they have with the product or service purchased. Any impact made at the product- or service-level, whether positive or negative, is only one part of the new customer experience equation.

So then, what makes a happy customer? The easy answer is: when a brand creates a seamless, consistent, and positive end-to-end experience across all consumer touch points; and they are digital first. In fact, 29 percent of consumers say their first choice would be to engage with a brand via its website, blog or social channels. This is compared to only 17 percent who prefer to connect in-store.

Consumers today are fickle, demanding, and impatient. They leave brands with very little room to fail. When a brand can’t deliver on its promises – or inadvertently misses a step somewhere along the way – consumers are quick to jump to the next best option, without hesitation. Plus, they make sure to let you and the rest of the Internet know just how they feel about your brand. So, it’s now incumbent upon brands to follow through and make customer experience a priority. Here are a few things brands can do to win customers for life.

Create an Emotional Connection

Consumers have a very different kind of relationship with brands today. They will do practically anything for a brand they love, but should a brand fail them in any way, then negative feelings can run deep and will likely last a long time.

By creating more of an emotional connection with consumers, they open a two-way dialogue that invites consumers in. It encourages them to be part of the overall brand experience and thus the emotional connection grows into brand advocacy, and hopefully, brand love.

It’s a strategy that works. 74 percent of adults say they are willing to spend more on products and services from a brand they love, suggesting a strong correlation between “brand love” and “share of pocketbook.”

Be Digital-First

When people need information on products and services, they turn to digital and mobile. This means brands must make it a priority to strengthen their digital presence. After all, the customer mindset today is all about self-service. Consumers want to be able to find information on their own, and they expect brands to deliver an experience that makes it possible. Our research* shows that consumers will visit a brand’s website, blog or social channels first to: engage with a brand; ask questions about specific products and services; learn more about a brand; or find published information on specific products and services. Long story short, if consumers today are digital-first, then brands must be as well.

Encourage Sharing

Word of mouth holds a lot of power and influence – and it goes without saying, people like to talk. So, when the time comes to make big purchases, consumers almost immediately look to product reviews and other people’s experiences to help them make a decision. Brands must seize this opportunity to turn their own customers into their biggest brand advocates. More often than not, happy customers are more than willing to give brands praise when it’s due. In fact, 64 percent of adults say they would share a positive experience with other consumers. Just be aware that they are almost equally willing (57 percent) to share a negative experience with friends and family as well. If that happens, don’t let it set you back – see it as a new opportunity for you to connect directly with a customer and, hopefully, bring them back over to a happy place.

So what now? Well, remember happy customers come in all shapes and forms. The way to win their trust and loyalty is to put their wants, needs, and expectations at the centre of all you do, think digital first and build your brand experience around that core. Because the reality is, if you fumble somewhere along the way, you may lose a customer for life. To underscore this point, 76 percent of adults agree that they would be unlikely to ever use a brand again after only one bad experience. Customer happiness is a 24/7 effort, and delivering a solid customer experience will be your recipe for success. In today’s digital world, sometimes there are no second chances.

 *Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Lithium from December 28-30, 2016 among 1006 adults ages 18 and older in the U.K. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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About The Author

Senior Vice President of Marketing at Lithium Technologies

Dayle is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Lithium Technologies; a San Francisco based social SaaS Company. He is responsible for the Lithium brand and its representation across all digital and physical channels. He also leads global field marketing and demand generation, corporate communications and is focused on developing the digital customer experience with Lithium. Dayle is amarketing executive with 19+ years’ experience across all marketing disciplines. Prior to joining Lithium, Dayle led Corporate Marketing and Corporate Communications at Aruba Networks. He has also held multiple marketing roles at Cisco and Oracle. You can follow Dayle on twitter.