Companies should put themselves in the shoes of their customers to build empathy. They should also invest in strategically important technology to create more relevant and seamless experiences.

Dana Barrett, left, and Margaret Wise

Dana Barrett, left, and Margaret Wise

That was the message Arke VP of Strategy Margaret Wise shared today with TV and radio host Dana Barrett on her morning show.

Arke works with companies nationwide to help them develop strategies around their customer experience (CX), Wise explained.

More specifically, as a marketing technology consultancy, Arke helps companies “figure out how to stitch together the marketing technology platforms they use,” she said. That includes everything from their websites to their platforms for customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and ecommerce.

Build Empathy With Customers

“We help companies understand what it feels like to be one of their customers,” Wise said.

By showing how processes flow through various marketing technologies, companies gain insights about the ease or frustration of customer interactions.

The goal is to build empathy. Arke helps companies remove friction from their processes and create better experiences — making it easier for customers.

“When we’ve done our job really well, the customer doesn’t even recognize that it’s ‘easy’ to do business with the company,” she said.

“They just know, ‘Hey, I like doing business with that company.’ In the best-case scenarios, customers then share their experiences with co-workers, friends, and neighbors. They tell others ‘If you need something, you should get it from this company.'”

Technology Enables Better Experience

Technology has paved the way for better brand experience, Wise said. It’s measurable, so it has reduced traditional means of validating experiences, including secret shoppers.

But now “there are a lot of eyes on what you’re doing as a consumer.” And in terms of technology, there’s a fine line between cool and creepy, she said.

“You probably don’t even want to know about all the analytics going on about you. We are all now part of a huge data set. The most sophisticated companies can drill right down to an individual consumer activity.”

But generally speaking, it’s only creepy when it’s not expected, she said. In addition, tolerance for extreme personalization varies by demographic. Overall, digital natives more receptive to personalized experiences than older adults.

“When you’re serving across a wide range of demographics, it’s really challenging to manage,” Wise said. “It’s a huge challenge because companies typically have a lot of silos within their organization.”

Can Retargeting Build Empathy?

Consider ad retargeting. Retargeting is helpful … to a point. But what if the customer has already purchased the item in question?

“Companies may know a customer has bought something in a store, but may not share that data with their ecommerce channels. As far as the website knows, the customer may still need something she already bought in a store. That leads to redundant advertising, and, often, frustration for customers,” Wise said.

Companies need to better integrate their systems for a holistic view of their customers. Only then will they have the necessary data to provide deeply personalized and relevant experiences, she explained.

Something for Something

Wise said companies must also understand that customers want something for something. They may be willing to share data such as an email address — but only if they receive a reciprocal benefit.

“This is what we call the value exchange,” she said.

Companies need to offer customers something in exchange for the personal information they provide whether that’s a discount or access to educational information.

Experiences Differentiate

As a technologist and a customer, Wise said she understands the challenges of both sides.

“When I have a great experience, I recognize the amount of work that’s gone into creating it. And when I have a bad experience, I also recognize what’s going on. I know the challenges companies face to provide exceptional experiences. It doesn’t make me any more patient about it, but I at least understand why it’s happening.”

A great product isn’t enough anymore. Today, experiences differentiate one business from another — and provide the framework for exceptional brand experience.

Companies now have to deliver on ever-growing customer expectations if they want to remain competitive.

Today, “good” customer experience is no longer enough to excite or delight customers. They need to optimize their processes toward a goal of exceptional experience.

The CX Bar Is Rising

As Wise explained, every business today, large or small, competes against the expectations being set by leading customer-centric businesses.

“Even though these companies represent just a sliver of all business, they shape customer expectations. They raise the bar and make it harder for other companies to keep their customers satisfied,” she said.

She cited the example of Domino’s Pizza, which made itself relevant to a whole new generation of pizza lovers by reinventing itself with digital technologies over the past decade. That includes its popular pizza tracker, which shows customers the exact location of their pizza as it is made, baked and delivered.

“Digital natives love that because they want to know where everything is at all times — from their pizza to their Uber vehicle to the products they ordered from Amazon. With all they do, they want complete transparency. Domino’s understands that,” she said.

Want to learn more about building empathy and enhancing brand experience? Email Margaret Wise for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.