On a recent road trip, I had an unexpected need to stop overnight. I went into my email, found a message from my preferred hotel brand, clicked to my loyalty account, reviewed availability and booked a room. Thanks to a desktop-quality mobile experience, the process took less than five minutes. The friendly staff welcomed me upon arrival and emailed a folio afterwards.
One could argue that this brand is in the hospitality business so my customer experience (CX) was nothing exceptional. Yet those of us who travel frequently know top-notch customer experience is noteworthy – even more so when it happens consistently – as I’ve found with this brand in personal (B2C) and business (B2B) travel.
Spanning email, mobile, inbound, outbound and in-person channels, the lessons above are a nice introduction to my guidelines for creating a great customer experience in both account-based marketing (ABM) and net-new lead generation programs. It’s because of customers like me – who’ll leave a brand without hesitation but stick with those that excel – that CX must sit at the top of every marketer’s priority list all day, every day.
With that context, here are my suggestions for improving CX interactions:
- with all customer types
- unique to net-new leads
- unique to ABM
1) CX practices to apply across all customer types
- Quickly, clearly tell your target what’s in it for them. Any customer outreach that isn’t centered on what the customer will learn, gain, feel or experience by engaging with your brand needs to be revamped. The customer is at the center of every engagement, so address this requirement first.
- The action you want a prospect or customer to take (regardless of channel) should be abundantly clear. This implies you’ve tested call-to-action variables (placement, language, color) and analyzed which CTAs engage various types of prospects. If registration is your goal, the flow must be dead simple.
- When you work with third parties media partners, review their messaging on your behalf and their adherence to your brand guidelines. They wouldn’t be working for you if they weren’t trusted partners, but it’s ultimately your brand that they’re representing.
2) CX requirements for net-new customer acquisition
- Be non-intrusive and non-interruptive. A pop-up or “lightbox” presentation pushing for registration from a first-time site visitor will send your prospects to the exit. An email with granular detail is much more than an uninitiated recipient will act on. Initial outreach should be introductory, educational: “Customers like you tell us they struggle with this challenge…”
- Lead with your most compelling content or offer that is proven to appeal to the highest percent of targets in a demographic. Don’t push an offer to a prospect if they can easily find a better offer from your brand through a five-second Google search.
- Respect their time. Present your offer or content quickly, concisely. Assume you have the shortest possible window to engage.
3) Important CX aspects when it comes to ABM
- Be consistent with earlier engagements – across channels and across customer use cases – with the goal of building a relationship. Use consistent messaging. My hotel chain does an exemplary job of this.
- Be contextual with respect to the existing relationship. Use account-specific info you have on the individual or company, especially in the post-sale customer lifecycle. Positive word of mouth will enable you to reach the buyers and influencers your sales team covets while expanding your footprint in a target account. Without the context that data provides, CX is little more than nice graphics applied to mass marketing. Of course, the ability to be contextual is predicated on having solid, accurate data on those you target.
Here’s a great example of not being contextual and not being respectful – I encourage you to learn from this email I received last week.
Offering a “VIP” event pass, the email opened with “Hi” and ended with “Thanks, sender’s first name.” Through my membership, they know enough about me to offer a VIP Pass but still didn’t include my name in the salutation. The email prattles on for 400 words (eight screens on my phone), listing two dozen event speakers, with formal titles and company names. Would you want to answer for response rates on that CX horror show?
Treat your net-new prospect or ABM customer with the respect they deserve and the context your data provides. Then, you will have laid a foundation for successful customer experiences.