If you haven’t heard the term “customer experience” (aka CX), its likely to be the concept that drives strategies for businesses of all sizes in 2019. Simply put, customer experience is the experience a customer has when interacting with your business. This includes interactions everywhere, from websites to customer support phone numbers to in-store activities, and so on.

From the digital perspective, small businesses are often singularly focused on ranking on Google or optimizing their Facebook activity. However, the reality is there is a complete suite of digital channels and tactics that are influencing the customer experience. For this reason, in 2019 I expect more small businesses to expand their thinking of digital marketing.

Today’s customer journey is complex, fragmented and puts the customer in control.

When Google and Facebook get most of the attention from businesses of all sizes, consumers are exploring a plethora of digital channels (above) when assessing a business. Websites, ratings and reviews sites, blog content, videos, customer service/support channels, and more are extremely important influences on the customer experience.

It sounds intuitive enough, but the reason customer experience has become a buzzword over the last few years is because marketers and business owners have traditionally looked at each individual point of customer engagement separate from the whole. In other words, whenever a customer engaged with a business online or offline, the focus was placed on the channel itself (website, in-store layout, etc.), rather than how the channel impacts and works with other channels.

87% of consumers think businesses should put more effort into creating a seamless experience across all channels.

Source: 2015 Kampyle

This view limits how a business analyzes performance of each channel and doesn’t seek to connect the various dots. And customers aren’t looking at each channel individually and saying, “Their Facebook page isn’t very useful, but they have a good website.” Each channel is a representation of the greater customer experience, and customers expect them all to be optimized, working together to create a consistent view of the brand.

To focus on improving the customer experience means to shift from a channel-centric view of the customer journey to a holistic view that sees each channel as an integral part on the path to purchase.

Part of the challenge small businesses have with digital marketing isn’t necessarily related to effectiveness, but in expectations. Many marketers have instilled unrealistic expectations in an effort to sell their services, and when these marketers don’t meet those targets, small businesses either decide it was the provider’s inability to perform, or that digital marketing wasn’t worth the investment/effort. And with limited budgets, who could blame them?

However, the customer journey is so fragmented and disjointed that attributing a key action with a particular email blast, Facebook post or online ad isn’t completely reliable. There are a variety of subjective influences like perception, design, usability, formatting, font choices, colors, etc., that have a powerful impact on results. But more importantly, assessing channels for the sales/leads they generated is a more self-interested view that ignores the wants and desires of the customer.

This isn’t to say that channels shouldn’t be assessed for their ability to drive key actions. They should. But significant emphasis should also be placed on customer engagement (clicks, shares, opens, forwards, likes, etc.) and the improvement of these metrics over time.

This is why a shift in philosophy is so important for small businesses to succeed in 2019. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you start to understand what it is like to engage with your brand online and/or offline. Internalizing this perspective will result in more successful digital marketing, that can positively impact bottom lines.

We take a holistic approach to digital marketing that focuses on creating a positive customer experience. Our services are bundled and customized for your business and industry. Contact us to get started.