The ‘expectation gap’ between companies and consumers has widened, with marketers rating themselves more than twice as high (106 per cent) as consumers in delivering great customer experiences (CX).
That’s one of the main findings of the 2018 Starcom Media Futures report, revealed by Starcom CEO, Toby Barbour, who spoke to CMO ahead of his presentation at the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) event attended by 150 marketers and media executives. “The expectation gap is between how marketers rate themselves on creating great experiences for consumers, and how consumers actually feel the reality of their experience is. The big news – the big headline from this study – is that business rate themselves two times higher than consumers – 106 per cent higher than consumers on meeting their expectations,” he told CMO. That number has increased from 61 per cent last year. “The expectation gap widened – consumers are still moving faster than business can keep up and they are still saying, ‘I’m not sure you’re designing experiences to meet my expectations’,” Barbour said.
Asked what’s driving the expectation gap, Barbour said many companies are caught up in delivering short-term business results and ROI, versus creating long-term sustainable brand customer value. “We call that the solution gap, but that’s where we all live today. But there’s something much deeper happening here and it is, of course, whilst consumers are changing very fast, and the media has never been more complicated and there’s never been more pressure on CMOs to deliver results, of course, human behaviour and motivation has not changed.”
Digging deeper, Barbour said Starcom looked into the ‘power of positive experiences – the power of positivity’. “We found that when experiences were actually personally relevant, they are seen as very positive – 81 per cent of the time,” he said, explaining 59 per cent of those positive experiences were then more likely to see consumers choosing the brand in question. Additionally, if a consumer has a very positive experience, they are 10 times more likely to choose that brand – a finding that shows the power of exponential growth.
It all boils down to understanding the customer journey, Barbour said. This is something the agency tries to achieve by looking through the lens of human motivation and behavior, as well as the media touchpoints, to determine what’s driving customer experiences, he said. “Real-life experiences, often those in areas where we’re feeling connected to others, create excitement, inspiration, discovery. Those areas are 2.4 times more likely to be seen as very positive, which is then ten times more likely to choose your brand,” he said.
Another discovery was around connected experiences. “If you get that connected experience right, a connected end-to-end experience, it is 1.5 times more likely to be very positive, which again is ten times more likely to choose your brand,” Barbour said. “We know the impact if you can’t keep up and understand your customer and their needs and their journey. We know that gap has widened and we know that that impacts your business outcomes, and we’ve been able to therefore quantify a return on experience. What surprised us is that that gap is still widening.”
Asked how companies can keep up, Barbour suggested CMOs look to not only fine-tune their CX strategy, but also look towards social marketing and personalization. “We all know technology is driving the consumers speed of change,” he said, explaining the big three driving the change are the Internet of Things (IoT), voice, and virtual reality. “I will highlight voice because I think that is one of the new battlegrounds through the growth of smart speakers. That is the new platform and there’s genuine challenges there for brands,” Barbour continued. “If I’m not top of mind, or synonymous in that category and I don’t have a relationship with my customers, and they don’t ask for my brand, then I’m going to get swapped out. And I am going to get delivered a brand or a product that meets a criteria of price, not the brand of choice.” Importantly, CMOs need to understand the interesting new platforms and battlegrounds, Barbour said.
“And you need to understand the role your brand plays in a new consumer behavior where voice search is going to be incredibly different to the search we know today – and where user experience is end-to-end or top to bottom, a funnel almost, because user experience and user ratings and reviews drives your search,” he added.
View the original article from CMO, here.