5 Ways to Create an Engaging Customer Experience

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5 Ways to Create an Engaging Customer Experience

Last month I identified five essential customer-engaging ingredients. This month I’ll show you how to create your own recipe using a case study to illustrate.

First I’ll briefly review the five essential ingredients:

Utility – Your product or service offering has to have value for your customers, and most important, it must have value from the customer’s perspective.

Convenience – Time is one of the most precious resources we have. Figuring out ways to make it easy for customers to find and use your product or service is no longer optional; it’s essential.

Choice – With the proliferation of mobile technology and Internet access consumers now want to be able to choose when and how they interact with your brand. Study after study indicates that consumers are comfortable using multiple screens based on where they are and what they are doing.

Connection – 24/7 access to your brand is increasingly the minimum expectation. While your business may not offer a human voice around the clock, your digital and social presence must be accessible.

Community – Social is rapidly becoming an important part of the buying journey. Research shows that consumers trust each other more than they trust brands. At the very least you’ll want to make it easy for consumers to connect with your brand and ultimately to each other.

Incorporating the five ingredients into your brand

So how do you go about incorporating these five ingredients into your brand? Let’s use Panera Bread, a well-known brand, as a case study example.

Utility

Panera’s product is their food. It’s important for them to ensure they consistently deliver quality, and it’s a good idea to look for ways to enhance their menu. For Panera Bread, offering menu options is a key consideration.

The best way to improve the utility of your brand is to pay close attention to the way consumers find and use your product or service. Solicit feedback from customer facing colleagues.

Panera Bread Menu Options

Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • How are our customers consuming our products and services?
  • Where are they consuming?
  • What frustrates our customers? Our associates?
  • Are there complementary products or services? If so how can we leverage these to enrich the experience?

Convenience

Since time is such a precious commodity, brands are constantly seeking ways to deliver faster. Panera Bread has to compete with brands that offer quick service options, (like drive-through windows).

Panera Bread Convenience selections

Convenience is also about removing friction points so customers don’t have to go through unnecessary steps to make selections or purchases. Think about the times you have been asked to enter information while on hold only to have the representative ask for that same information when they answer your call.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I reduce the number of steps in the buying process?
  • Am I using the information the customer has already given me?
  • How can I make it easier to buy again?
  • Where can I eliminate wait times?

Choice

Choice and convenience are two sides of the same coin. Choice is empowering your customers with the ability to choose when and how they want to connect.

Panera Bread offers four distinct ways to order. While all are designed to save time, look closely at the Express Order option. Here is an effective way to provide value through a relationship. By signing up for an account you can expedite repeat orders. Keep in mind consumers are looking for a seamless experience.

Choice details

Here are some choice questions:

  • Are my customers able to access our product or service from any device?
  • Can my customers find, choose and order from any device over a period of time without having to reenter information?
  • Where can I offer more choices?

Connection

In an effort to offer a broader experience, Panera offers recipes, tips and other content on their website. This type of content is relevant and provides a connection with their customers beyond the dining experience. Creating content using stories is another effective tactic.

Panera Tips_Recipes

Here are some Connection questions:

  • How can I leverage content to enrich the experience?
  • Are there ways I can help customers find and use our products or services?
  • How can I make it easier for our customers to share their experiences with our products or services?

Community

Creating community is all about facilitating connections with your customers on social media platforms like Facebook. More importantly, it’s creating the space for conversations between you and consumers and consumers with other consumers. Brands often mistake a social media presence with community.

Panera Bread offers six social media options that are appropriate for their audience.

Social Media Options

When I looked at their Facebook page, I noted that there were comments and responses from consumers and the brand.

A few community questions:

  • What social media platforms does my target audience use?
  • Are my audience members interacting with each other?
  • Am I appropriately responding to input from audience members?
  • Are we taking full advantage of audience feedback?

Next Steps

I am sure you will be able to think of other questions for each of the five ingredients. You may want to conduct a customer experience audit using a customer journey map.

When you conduct the audit look for gaps in the experience, then find ways to fill those gaps.

I would be interested in your ideas and questions, what questions would you add?

About the Author:

Joe Ruiz

This monthly Social Customer Experience Marketing column is contributed by Joseph Ruiz. Joseph is President of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing and consulting firm specializing in web-based integrated Relationship Marketing. Joseph thrives on the ever-changing nature of marketing in the digital age, embracing interactive opportunities, while applying three decades of hands-on expertise in online and traditional marketing. When he’s not helping business-makers navigate through complex marketing challenges, Joseph enjoys reading, working out and traveling just about anywhere…anywhere you can get a digital signal, that is. +Joseph Ruiz

Joe Ruiz
This monthly Social Customer Experience Marketing column is contributed by Joseph Ruiz. Joseph is President of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing and consulting firm specializing in web-based integrated Relationship Marketing. Joseph thrives on the ever-changing nature of marketing in the digital age, embracing interactive opportunities, while applying three decades of hands-on expertise in online and traditional marketing. When he’s not helping business-makers navigate through complex marketing challenges, Joseph enjoys reading, working out and traveling just about anywhere…anywhere you can get a digital signal, that is. +Joseph Ruiz
Joe Ruiz
Joe Ruiz

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