The emergence of online shopping and digital communities has shifted our economy from transactional to experiential. It’s all about the audience experience these days – whether it’s our viewing experience through streaming platforms, our shopping experience influenced and driven by reviews, or the different user experiences we get from social media and other digital channels. All of this has changed the way audiences engage with content.

The customer / audience experience has changed significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19. As businesses continue operating within the experience economy, the power of consumers has risen, and brands are expected to act more with more customer centricity. A positive audience experience can bring a multitude of benefits to your brand, such as increased customers, further brand exposure, and consequently more sale. However, a negative audience experience can lead to bad reviews, lost sales, and potential brand ruin.

Much like the AIDA method, understanding audience experience is about tapping into emotions, creating empathy, demonstrating value and benefits to them, and ultimately driving audiences’ action. Before you even think of your presentation content, ask yourself what the purpose of it is – what do you want your audience to think and feel afterwards. Are you looking to inform or sell something to them? Also, how do you plan on keeping them engaged and create a memorable experience?

Customer Experience Excellence

The shift towards an experience economy has also driven a personification of brands – making businesses more human, relatable, and personality based. At a time when consumer trust is critical due to overwhelming market size and abundance of brand choices, businesses need to provide immersive, safe, convenient, and emotionally connective experiences to consumers, especially in light of the global pandemic.

At a time when news and circumstances are changing constantly, consumers expect brands to be more experience driven. To help establish best practice for brands looking be more customer centric, KPMG established six pillars of customer / audience experience excellence. Let’s look at them in detail.

  1. Personalisation means using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection. This is critical to creating empathy and drawing audiences to your brand, converting them into customers.
  2. Integrity is about being trustworthy and engendering trust. Acting with integrity is vital as audiences expect brand to act in their best interests and serve a greater purpose than simply the pursuit of profit.
  3. Expectations is about managing, meeting, and exceeding customer expectations, which is particularly important when consumers (both current and potential) have access to Google reviews and an abundance of brand choices.
  4. Resolution means turning poor customer experiences into great one, addressing all customer queries and providing solutions when things don’t go according to plan. Since customers value experience, resolution is about being responsive to inquiries and understanding to their needs.
  5. Time and Effort is about minimising customers’ effort by creating frictionless processes that are simple and seamless for audiences.
  6. Empathy is about demonstrating understanding for customers’ circumstances, offering support that’s valuable to audiences.

audience experience, Redefining Audience Experience

According to KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Report 2020, the top ten local customer experience brands were:

  1. First Choice Liquor
  2. Ikea
  3. Afterpay
  4. Boost Juice
  5. Rebel
  6. PayPal
  7. Red Energy
  8. Dan Murphy’s
  9. ING
  10. Best&Less

As you’ll notice, many brands were for ‘essential’ products and service, which makes sense when buyer priorities and access was changed by COVID-19. People needed access to financial services, food, and liquor. Many people were also forced to set up offices and gyms at home due to the closure of office spaces and gyms around the world.

The KPMG Report noted that the three brands that saw the biggest improvement were all focused on safety, transparency, and reliable delivery during the crisis.

Red Energy saw the greatest improvement in Australia’s Customer Experience Excellence score, progressing most across the pillars of Integrity (+1.07) and Expectations (+0.98).

Rebel successfully maintained a high standard of customer service with its most improved pillars being Empathy (+0.97) and Integrity (+0.8).

NSW Health was the only state health authority that offered enough data, but healthcare in general was a critical service during the global pandemic. Being responsive to COVID-19 drove NSW Health’s progress particularly in the pillar of Expectations (+0.91).

COVID-19 highlighted three customer challenges in Australia that all brands should be aware of to improve its customer / audience experience offering.

The first is maintaining continuity of experience during times of crisis. The whole world experienced disruptions across supply chains and the ability to work, so maintaining service continuity really helped some brands stay in customers’ good graces. Even if some disruptions were unavoidable, the most customer-centric businesses were able to keep customer informed at all times, ensuring they were always contactable and outlining what changes would impact their customer network.

The second challenge was building certainty during this state of flux. Businesses not only had to be communicative with customers, but creative with their offerings. Beyond ensuring continuity, this means keeping promises made before and during the crisis, ensuring customers are still getting the products and services they need. While it’s challenging guaranteeing certainty, brands need to adapt to the changing needs of audiences everywhere.

The third key challenge was redefining normal, which is about keeping staff and customers safe while setting new standards of service. Again, adaptability is vital – opening new avenues for customers to connect with brands so they can still access products and services, supporting all stakeholders during this challenging period.

As experience becomes vital to how brands operate, it’s important to be more empathetic towards audiences, understanding the challenges they face and how to best address them. If you’re looking to write more engaging content that draws people in and improves their overall audience experience, check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Writing. Download it for free here.

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