Customer Experience Trends: Are You Memorable or “Meh?”

For the past four years, InMoment has conducted an annual study of CX trends. This yearly exercise has become a great opportunity to examine where brands and customers are aligned in their expectations, where there are disconnects, and what we can do to create more innovative and valuable customer experiences.

This year, we previewed the 2018 CX Trends Report with an on-demand webinar in partnership with In the webinar, Brennan Wilkie, InMoment’s SVP of CX Strategy, and I had the opportunity to discuss five trends for 2018 and what they mean for customer experience professionals.

An overarching theme of the report was memorable experiences — both good and bad — what goes into making them, and where brands and consumers sync and diverge.

As a part of our research, we asked consumers if they had a positive, memorable experience with a brand in the past year, and we asked brands if they had indeed created memorable experiences for their customers.

The results were both inspiring and also set a few alarm bells ringing. Approximately 68% of customers said that they had a positive, memorable experience, a fact that is probably music to the ears of anyone invested in the customer experience. The alarming news? Brands believed that they were creating memorable experiences 84% of the time.

While the confidence behind this statistic is admirable, it presents a few dangers from a long-term CX standpoint. There is an almost 20% difference between these two factors, which means that at least a portion of the time, brands believe customers leave with an indelible happy memory, when what they’re actually delivering may elicit a feeling more along the lines of “meh.”

So what’s the big deal? In today’s hyper-competitive environment, a satisfactory experience just isn’t good enough for long-term success. Memorable experiences are especially powerful because they are highly personal, grounded in relationship, and influence future behavior. When your customers feel an emotional tie to your brand, it impacts their future behavior; their relationship with you will inspire them to keep coming back.

This emotional aspect of a memorable experience increases the probability that if you invest in your customers, they will invest in you. This is really a story of good to great. “Good” will get you a bump in metrics, but great experiences are what keep customers coming back, spending more, and advocating on your behalf.   

The other problem with this nearly 20-point disconnect is that it indicates that brands aren’t fully tuned into to their customers. If they were truly listening, they would be a little less confident and a little more careful. Hubris is always a risky proposition because it prevents you from hearing the full story, and puts you in a defensive posture when less-than-rosy accounts emerge.  

In short, good doesn’t equal great, and 20 points isn’t really that close. While brands are accomplishing a lot, there are still many opportunities to understand customers even better. Brands that deliver positive, memorable experiences have identified why customers love them and what makes them special. In the age of the customer, this deliberate distinction is what will separate tomorrow’s leaders from brands that sputter and fail.

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