Remember, research giant Walker predicted seven years ago that CX would overtake price and product as the primary brand differentiator by 2020. With 2020 here, it's time to plan a final CX push. If fast growth is your goal, CX is your route to getting there.
What does that mean? Something different for every brand. Some companies win with frictionless sales or stellar customer service. Others are "all in" on social responsibility. One brand I worked with decided to define itself by its ease of use; the leaders focused on developing an intuitive interface and showcasing the brand's 24/7 customer service accessibility.
If you're not sure how to elevate your own CX in 2020, try:
1. Becoming a customer culture buff.
Every company needs to know its target audience. But no matter how well you understand yours, there's always more you could know: What's the best show on television? Is Facebook still cool? How many is too many episodes of Netflix to binge-watch? Put together a customer panel to find out.
The answers to those questions might not help you sell more products directly, but that isn't the point. Cultural alignment creates a sticky experience that can't be measured in short-term sales lift. It also makes you a part of customer's daily life -- if you're part of the fun they look forward to online or a brand who takes their words seriously, you'll gain more traction.
2. Revamping your rewards program.
If they ever did, punch cards don't impress customers any longer. Auto-generated birthday emails aren't exciting. Get creative to remind customers just how much you value their business.
There are dozens of ways to do it. AMEX Platinum cardholders get access to swanky airport lounges. REI members get an annual dividend, special pricing on outdoors classes and invites to members-only events. What perks can you afford that would make your customers feel special?
3. Supercharging your sustainability efforts.
There aren't many things that get young consumers to spend more, given the economic environment they grew up in. Sustainability, however, is one of them. Nearly three-quarters of Millennials favor sustainable companies with their wallets.
Buying from a sustainable company is a customer experience in and of itself. Nobody feels good supporting a company that uses questionable labor practices or trashes the oceans. Do more than donate to environmental causes: Let employees take time off to volunteer, source components locally and minimize production waste.
4. Breaking off a new brand.
Apple caters to media pros and college students. The Home Depot works with homeowners and professional contractors. If your marketing speaks better to one audience than another, consider spinning off a fresh brand.
Wrap the new brand tightly to that secondary audience's communication style. Because Shelter Insurance's spinoff, Say Insurance, targets Millennials and Gen-Z, it prioritizes online-first access that's simplified. Shelter sticks to a high-touch, multi-line model that makes sense for a more traditional audience.
5. Adding customer service channels.
How much do you hate sitting on hold with customer service? More than you dislike steamed vegetables? What about more than cleaning a bathroom? Nearly four in 10 Americans told Aspect they'd rather scrub a toilet than deal with an interactive voice response system.
Give customers choices: Can they text you about product problems? Send you a direct message on Twitter or Facebook? What about an instant messaging tool on your website? Survey a dozen customers at random, and set up service channels that two or more suggest.
6. Smiling for the camera.
Just like you, your customers are spending more time staring at screens than ever. You may not be able to sit down with every one of them, but you can do the next best thing: Use video to humanize yourself and your brand.
No matter how strong your writing skills are, no blog post or email can create a sense of connection. SEO expert Neil Patel wouldn't be nearly as popular or trusted by the marketing community if he didn't spend six figures annually pumping out video content.
Your CX isn't dictated by any single element of your company. It's about putting everything together in just the right ways so your customers know you're looking out for them. How you do that is up to you.