For many years now we have heard that organizations must look to improve their customer experience to stand a chance of retaining their existing customer base. This, we have been told, is the cornerstone of customer engagement – but what exactly is customer experience and why is it here now? How did we ever manage without it?
The fact is our propensity to always be connected means we are bombarded with information and what feels like a vast array of choices to buy the same product with the only real variations being factors like price and delivery time. What fundamental difference is there in the myriad of offers we are exposed to that leads us to choose one supplier from another?
There is one ingredient behind customer experience and customer engagement that has preceded the Internet and still makes a big impact on our behavior and brand loyalty today. Walk through a modern airport or drive through the suburbs of a city and you will be exposed to advertising hoardings, walk into a dentist surgery or add yourself to mailing lists and you will encounter lifestyle magazines. These are all forms of customer experience and engagement that rely on one characteristic – they grab our attention.
Often they do not lead with product data such as price or specification, they cannot measure and analyse how successful they are (unless you take into account passing traffic volume, print circulation), they simply grab our attention through something that appeals to us as humans beings – stimulus.
Most often it’s visual, in the case of lifestyle magazines they might even try to appeal to our olfactory senses to advertise a scent – indeed some magazines even just smell good! But if we go back to the advertising hoardings and the lifestyle magazines examples for one moment it is easy to see that visual stimulus provides the X factor that excites us, it grabs our attention and leads us to follow up. The common name for this stimulus is content.
We have all heard the phrase “every company is a media company1” and of course this is true to varying degrees – every company produces content to grab customer attention and this has transformed from a rather small set of content to what can only be described as a tidal wave of diverse material.
Some talk about a “content shock2” where we are overwhelmed to the extent that we are unable to consume more, but the real issue here is that the valuable content that grabs the attention is buried amongst the volume of mediocre material. Every company faces this challenge.
We have also seen that CMO’s are starting to recognize the value of content but do not prioritize its management3. Content has intrinsic value – it is expensive to produce so like any valuable material it should be collected, curated and put to use where it can have maximum impact.
Could it be that we are so focused on the customer experience where we measure, analyse and try to predict our customer’s next step that we are forgetting the one factor that defines what we are?
Content provides stimulus and grabs our attention. Getting our attention is the first step in becoming a customer. Lets start looking after that content.
1 – “Every company is a media company” by Tom Foremski
2 – “Content Shock: Why Content Marketing is Not a Sustainable Strategy” by Mark Schaefer
3 – “CMOs believe in value of visual assets but don’t prioritize their management” by Lisa Hoover McGreevy – Fierce Content Management