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Why Marketers Cannot Afford to Compromise between Efficiency and Enjoyment


Lucy Halley, executive head of strategy at Havas CX helia, follows the launch of their recent X Index report showing that customers have distinct priorities when it comes to CX

Why Marketers Cannot Afford to Compromise between Efficiency and Enjoyment

CX has been supercharged over the last decade, driven by start-ups and D2Cs high on low-interest capital and digital innovation. To compete, every marketer has been forced to up its game and as a result, customer expectations have skyrocketed permanently.

Global economic pressures and the cost of living crisis mean that budgets are now constricting, but those high expectations are not. Brands have no choice but to maintain – and build on – the high standards of CX that customers now take for granted.

Havas’ latest X Index report – a study of 54,000 people and 500 brands across 10 markets – shows that customers have distinct priorities when it comes to CX, and in particular that marketers cannot afford to compromise between efficiency and enjoyment.

It’s tempting to put the focus on functionality and a friction-free experience, but that’s no longer enough; the enjoyment side of the equation comes a very close second in terms of priorities. Apple, for example, boosted its CX rating just by creating a beautiful, garden-style environment in its new Brompton Road store in London.

Brands must show they understand their customers. GiffGaff scores highly both for its quick-response crowdsourced customer services, and also for its ability to adapt to external factors, like its decision to fix prices at the start of 2023 to provide financial certainty.

Similarly, Airbnb’s new search function shows its appreciation of customers’ priorities by categorising properties in innovative ways, going beyond straightforward location to include activities and architecture style: if you want to holiday in a brutalist building, you just have to say.

All of this only works if expectation matches reality – that brutalist fan is going to be pretty annoyed if they are given the keys to a baroque folly. There’s a danger, though, in perfectionism. Your customers won’t wait around for you to get everything right, which is why it’s OK to think of CX as a route from “better” to “best,” where constant improvement is the goal.

That’s true whether we are talking about bricks & clicks or pure digital players. The top criteria for the UK market are remarkably consistent across both, starting with efficiency, followed by ease, then going beyond expectations, an enjoyable and engaging experience, and being pleasantly surprised by what the brand has to offer.

The challenge is increasingly about joining up the experience: when you create seamless interactions online, the pressure is on to make sure that staff in store can carry on that same conversation in person.

Consumers don’t just expect excellent CX, they actively notice it when it happens, and their criteria are changing. For the first time this year, diversity and accessibility have made the top ten in the UK, which means it’s more important than ever for brands to offer an accessible experience, whether physical or digital, and – crucially – this applies whether or not it personally affects an individual.

D&I in CX is about more than paying lip service to diversity: consumers, savvy to gimmicks and greenwashing, know tokenism when they see it, and they want brands to embrace inclusion in a deeper, more meaningful way by providing value not just for the individual customer, but for the wider community.

The way to do this consistently is to put those efforts at the heart of your brand. Netflix, for example, invested $100m in productions featuring not just a more diverse cast, but more varied storylines featuring wider communities – and customers noticed.

Likewise, Adidas is singled out for creating sports bras for every shape because again, consumers can see that it’s not a cynical exercise driven by the marketing department, but a concrete initiative that has come from the brand and its DNA.

In a tough environment where consumers need to justify every penny they spend, good CX is a chance to differentiate ourselves in the knowledge that we will get noticed. This is no time for going back to basics – we need to keep raising that high bar that we set ourselves in the good times.

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Havas UK, Tue, 09 May 2023 16:20:00 GMT