March 17, 2021
Customer Experience Centres: Driving Growth Through Better Relationships
Customer Experience Centres offer businesses an effective way to connect with customers, build brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales. But how do businesses develop their own Customer Experience Centre? And can immersive technologies such as virtual reality provide a potential alternative space to physical environments during the Covid pandemic, as well as a complementary innovation for the future?
Building Better Relationships With CECs
Customer Experience Centres are interactive spaces that are designed to hone relationships with potential customers, by giving them the chance to undertake an immersive brand experience. And although CECs give businesses the chance to showcase their products and services, it goes way beyond being a traditional sales tool. CECs provide dynamic, customer-centred and distraction free spaces where potential customers can undertake a truly personalised journey whilst finding out more about how their business needs can be addressed by the host business.
Positive customer experiences make a tangible difference to a company’s bottom line. As the world becomes increasingly digitised, our customer behaviours are changing, including our expectations of what brands should deliver and who we want to do business with. A one size fits all approach to sales is increasingly a thing of the past; customers expect a highly personalised and collaborative approach when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
But for many B2B businesses, providing innovative, memorable, and most crucially, impactful customer experiences can be challenging. According to McKinsey research, B2B customer experience index ratings lag significantly behind those of retail customers. B2B companies average less than 50%, compared with B2C companies scoring in the 65-85% range.
B2B brands need to innovate and revolutionise their sales and marketing strategies so they can build strong customer relationships to make those crucial deals, Experiencing a brand proposition is far more powerful than simply being told about it and Customer Experience Centres (CECs) can offer a unique and highly effective space to do just that.
Sales & Marketing Goals for Experience Centres
In the digital age, prospective customers are better informed than ever about your products and services, even before you have had any significant contact with them. They can read your website to know the minute details of your offer and make judgments about not only your goods and services, but also your company’s reputation. This, coupled with the shift in customers expectations, complexity of B2B purchasing decisions and requirements for excellence in customer service means that traditional selling techniques are no longer cutting it for B2B businesses.
By offering an environment designed around tailored experiences, coupled with meaningful and personalised conversations, your potential customers are more likely to feel that you understand and care about their needs. This is a powerful proposition for potential customers and can help a business to not only convert prospects to sales, but also build long term brand loyalty.
As such, Customer Experience Centres offer sales and marketing teams a brilliant opportunity to make new and long lasting connections with potential customers by:
- Building your brand’s reputation
It gives you the chance to showcase your brand in a way that is meaningful to each potential customer. When successfully implemented, a CEC offers customers an attractive and well co-ordinated introduction to your brand, making them feel special by offering a fantastic experiential experience that is truly personalised.
- Offering tailored product demonstrations
Your sales team can tailor product demonstrations with a level of customer interactivity, showcasing how the product or service works, and supporting customers when scrutinising the smallest of details.
- Demonstrating problem solving potential
The CEC is the perfect place to highlight not only what you do and how your products and service work, but how they can address customer challenges. You can position your brand as being an invaluable problem solver. You listen to your customer and respond to their individual needs – and by extension, highlight how your products and services are the solution to addressing the challenges they face.
- Addressing complex purchasing decisions
B2B customer relationships are complex and need to be carefully nurtured. Purchasing decisions can often be made by a number of individuals or even across several departments within an organisation, all of whom may have diverse needs and motivations. This complexity can be addressed within a CEC environment. The power of the CEC is by facilitating personalised connections with their potential customers. What’s more, experiences can be tailored to meet an individual’s specific needs; and that includes addressing multiple stakeholders from a single customer business.
How CECs Compare With Traditional Executive Briefing Centres
The concept of Customer Experience Centres has evolved from the more traditional Executive Briefing Centres (EBCs). But there are some key differences between the two. Executive Briefing Centres tend to support a one-way communications approach; your customers are presented with a sales pitch and briefed on your company’s vision and product/service offer.
Customer Experience Centres are more interactive and customer, rather than product focused. They are founded on the concept that customers want to be talked to, and not at. Customers want an experience that they are at the heart of, which feels authentic and personalised to their needs. As such, CECs tend to have a higher level of interactivity and a creative approach to engaging with potential customers, rather than a passive sales experience.
Design Elements of a Customer Experience Centre
If you’re thinking of introducing a Customer Experience Centre into your company offer, planning every detail in advance is key to creating a winning experience. There are some common design aspects to consider when developing a new CEC, including:
- Remembering it’s all about the customer
As with any effective sales and marketing activity, knowing your customer and providing a uniquely personalised experience is a key driver. You want your customer to have an impactful brand experience. But to do this, you need to get to know them and understand their needs. Defining different audience needs, motivations and potential journeys is crucial; for example, mapping out the different experiences required for new customers curious about your products, or existing customers looking for new innovations.
- Reflecting your brand and values
Your Customer Experience Centre should tell the story of your company in a way that connects in a meaningful way with your customer. It should reflect who you are, what makes you unique and sets you apart from your rivals.
Being able to demonstrate your company’s commitment to outstanding customer service will give a great impression of your brand and resonate with customers. Make sure the experience they have when visiting your CEC is welcoming and user-centric as it can positively reinforce your brand messaging and image.
- Planning the customer journey – make it authentic and dynamic!
Customer Experience Centres should feel authentic and welcoming, giving customers a seamless and effortless experience. Identifying the customer journey and interaction is crucial, including what you want to say, what you want them to do, and how you want them to feel – and react. Storyboarding may help to identify every step of the journey to give it a natural flow, as well as pre-empt every potential conversation, and map out key touchpoints to blend the physical space with human interaction to perfection.
- Making it comfortable
A successful CEC depends on being detail-focussed. Think about the specific hospitality areas, as well as how every detail, from parking to your reception, through to lighting, colour in spaces, placement of interactive activities and types of furniture both reflect your brand. By developing a seamless and well co-ordinated experience you will be contributing to making your customers feel welcome and comfortable in the space.
- Choosing the right tech for the job
Harnessing the power and interactivity that digital technologies is pretty much expected of any Customer Experience Centre, and digital innovations can take your customer’s experience to the next level. But choosing the right technology for the job is a must.
Digital technologies, including immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, should enhance and not lead your choices when it comes to developing a Customer Experience Centre. Don’t use tech just for the sake of it, or to look cutting edge. Doing this risks your CEC as becoming gimmicky, and this may jar with your customer and give an overwhelming negative experience. Technology has to have purpose, improve and support the customer’s experience and fit seamlessly with all other aspects of your CEC.
- Bringing your employees on the CEC journey
Getting buy-in from your employees and ensuring they are fully trained and equipped to work in your CEC is crucial. Great customer experiences rely on developing and nurturing relationships, and your employees will be the ones who will be doing just that.
Make sure that employees on site are able to fully respond to the needs of your customers. This goes beyond ensuring they are knowledgeable about your company, products and services; you also need to make sure they are fully trained on every working aspect of the customer experience on site and your company’s structure.
- Futureproofing your CEC
It’s also worth noting that your CEC should be designed to be easily updated and adapted, where content can be regularly reviewed and updated. By planning for a flexible space, you will be maximising opportunities to promote your brand and offer awesome customer experiences in the long term.
Post Covid & the Future of Customer Experience Centres
While Customer Experience Centres offer a fantastic way for companies to connect effectively with customers as part of their sales and marketing strategies, the Covid pandemic turned ‘business as usual’ on its head. As doors closed on face-to-face, location based experiences, did 2020 give businesses a glimpse into the future of remote working practices becoming the norm – and can Customer Experiences Centres survive in a post-Covid world?
As with all aspects of business, Covid has had a fundamental, and potentially long term impact on Customer Experience Centres. As many business commentators predict that our working environments could change forever, with remote working becoming an increasingly attractive prospect for businesses and employees alike. And yet… human interaction and building connections is the lifeblood of successful businesses. So how can companies replicate CEC environments when physical spaces are off limits – and could be for a significant time in the future?
Immersive technologies, especially virtual reality, may hold the key to keeping connected. A significant benefit of VR technology is that it can accurately replicate physical spaces and allow people to meet and interact in a virtual space. This means that Customer Experience Centres can be reproduced in VR, so brands can continue to connect with customers wherever they are in the world for a unique and engaging brand experience. Moreover, by thinking creatively and embracing the power of VR, businesses have the potential to enhance their customer relationship strategies.
Moreover, this isn’t just a solution that addresses the immediate challenges that businesses face in the face of the Covid pandemic. It also highlights how VR can offer businesses an alternative way to connect with potential customers and, by being freed of geographical restrictions, unlock new potential audiences. And in the face of challenging times, these innovations may help businesses to not simply survive, but thrive in the post-Covid world.
Contact Future Visual today to BOOK A DEMO a demo and explore what your future customer experience might look like.