Analysts from IDC forecast that spending on customer experience (CX) technologies will grow to $641 billion in 2022. Despite already making massive investments, businesses are having a disengagement problem as they struggle to deliver digital experiences that meet consumer expectations. Efforts may check a box in a list of today's business requirements, but lackluster, tone-deaf experiences are leaving customers uninspired. And disengaged consumers spend less, are costly to serve and can easily become brand detractors.
In a Salesforce survey of 8,000 consumers and business buyers from across the globe, more than half (54%) of respondents felt companies needed to transform how they engage customers. Further, 73% said that when one company provides an extraordinary experience, their expectations of others rise. For advanced brands, delivering stellar CX is the foremost challenge today. It's also urgent, because with social distancing, more people are relying on online shopping and digital tools and services more so than in-person experiences. Unfortunately, many brands are failing to put the customer first, and as a result, miss out on opportunities to forge strong and valuable relationships.
We see this repeatedly with complex information or processes, customer education and when companies try to affect behavioral change. Traditional marketing often fails to provide clear information, guidance and reassurance. Customers don't want to sift through lengthy, multisubject collateral when they're seeking a simple answer to a specific question. This ends up increasing frustration, stress and confusion.
Video strategies are changing to meet consumers' needs
Most brands have a video strategy; after all, it can tell a story like no other medium because it encompasses verbal and visual communication. However, it's often separate from CX and limited in its ability to communicate in relevant ways that resonate with viewers. These types of video programs typically push static, stale content that fail to consider current and future customer needs.
That said, a new category of video has been overcoming such issues by providing dynamic, modular content. This next-gen approach is a full step up for CX in video-powered experiences (VX). In adopting this, progressive brands have been able to aid and direct consumers and customers at key decision-making moments.
A range of possibilities is in store for 2021
Video can now provide different levels of relevance, and there are flexible and customized solutions for addressing varying goals, communications channels and available data. Regardless of the strategy you choose, focus should always be on providing value and fostering long-term relationships by delivering the right CX and outcomes at points that matter most during the customer journey.
The ability to activate data can create exceptional CX. That doesn't necessarily require access to deep data – you just need the technology and flexibility to get the most out of the data you possess. This can enable a range of VX possibilities, most of which fit into the following four categories.
1. Data rich and getting personal
If you have lots of customer details, you can deliver highly customized and personalized video experiences that suit varying levels of data and your brand's goals. However, keep in mind that because a VX can include information like an individual's profile, transaction history, interactions, and even behaviors, reach should be targeted to channels that require secure access via an account portal, password-protected website, or authenticated mobile app.
An individualized VX is easy with existing customers because you already have an in-depth relationship. Video can leverage data to create a unique VX that contains only information relevant to that person, precisely as they're viewing the video. As examples, a telco uses this approach at moments of billing confusion to educate and explain charges, reducing frustration and calls to customer support. A financial services provider uses individualized VX to bring customers up to speed on account status and increasing contributions to reach personal savings goals.
2. Limited and contextual data
When little data is available – such as with a new customer that has a limited transaction history – a VX based on current context should be considered, such as a specific moment in a customer journey. The video content is still highly relevant based on the moment in which the customer is watching a video and the touchpoints and channel where it's being consumed.
Onboarding is a good fit for this. For instance, a financial company may deliver VX during new customer onboarding to highlight value-added features and services to a segment of customers who have not yet added these tools. This increases brand stickiness, adoption of efficient digital tools, while improving net promoter scores (NPS) and the likelihood of recommendations. It could also be used to help customers better understand the features and benefits of loyalty programs, reducing calls for support and encouraging spending to bring them to higher loyalty tiers.
3. Being dynamic with multiparty data
When you're fueled by first- and third-party data, dynamic VX can be particularly useful. Usually, these are delivered to a broader audience through advertising vehicles like publishers' sites, including social media. Data and automation combine to create personally relevant videos using dynamic product and promotional information. Instead of personal customer data, algorithms are used to choose applicable products, categories and promotions.
Retail holds some good examples of this. For retargeting, one company used dynamic VX to attract new customers and reactivate lapsed ones, increasing both online and in-store sales. A major home improvement retailer also uses the approach to offer product recommendations and targeted digital content, online and in stores, increasing traffic and sales.
4. Interactive experiences to gather data
When data is limited or non-existent, an interactive video experience can deliver an immersive CX that drives engagement while collecting data to help round out the customer profile. I like to think of these as "choose your own adventure" videos, as the viewer interacts with content and drives her experience, and changes take place in real time depending on her selections.
A major retailer has used this interactive approach to help customers better understand the benefits of their new store card when customers' preferences were unknown. This not only encourages usage, it supplied the retailer with invaluable data such as online or in-store shopping preferences (pre-COVID-19) and product categories most frequently shopped for. Then again, a communications provider uses an interactive VX to show customers how to set up digital payments. This increases payment rates, the use of digital tools and loyalty.
Meeting consumers' great expectations
2020 has been difficult for consumers, customers and companies on many levels. The expectations consumers have for brands to respond and react immediately to issues and inquiries has only been heightened. That said, the need to communicate with empathy, emotional intelligence and personalization with digital experiences is critical.
If brands fail to adapt quickly, they risk customers feeling uninformed, lost or uncared for. They can miss out on relationships with consumers now dipping their toes into the digital waters. As Salesforce's survey showed, when a company provides a powerful CX, customers will expect the same from others or will find one that does.
Video has always had that unique mix of audio and visual that can educate and emotionally reach people like no other medium. Ironically, when prospects and customers are frustrated and confused, it can also provide an opportunity to further the relationship and differentiate a company from competitors.