It is a classic case of “can’t see the wood for the trees”: employees at startups and small businesses are often drowning in a never-ending list of isolated tasks, with a range of responsibilities falling on the shoulders of a very lean team. It can become difficult for them to step back and attend to the intricate details of getting customer experience just right.

However, there are plenty of reasons why this is something growing businesses can’t afford to overlook. According to Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising report, most consumers in Southeast Asia (88 per cent) found word-of-mouth recommendations to be the most credible source of information. It has never been more important for businesses to have end-to-end insight into the customer experience, but many aren’t spending enough time focusing on this – and it is a massive loss.

A study by HubSpot Research also found that one customer’s bad experience with a brand could make it harder to acquire new business in future. In particular, the majority of social media users in Singapore are made up of millennials, who make up a large part of the Asia-Pacific workforce. Aged 25 to 34, millennials are more wary of online ads, and tend to trust customer reviews and user-generated content more than other types of advertising techniques.

The customer journey is not linear – there is little point in businesses spending time, money, and resources to “fill the funnel” with traffic and leads via organic search, email marketing, advertising, and so on, without focusing on the end result of that activity: the customer.

Also Read: The essentials of mapping a customer journey across digital assets

Your existing customers can be your biggest source of growth, and if you want your startup to succeed, you need to focus time on turning more of them into brand advocates. But how? The answer lies in improving the customer experience and building customer advocacy programs.

Digital transformation isn’t enough

Every marketer – no matter the size of their budget – should have the ability to see how their efforts are impacting the customer journey and, ultimately, the business’s bottom line.

Of course, technology helps to solve this, but more often than not, businesses are not thinking critically about the technology they are using and its impact on the business. Recent research from HubSpot found that 71 per cent of Singaporean marketers felt their company underinvests in the technology needed to help them do their job to a better standard.

Businesses often don’t have access to a single view of the customer journey because data is siloed in different systems and tools, making it near impossible to identify things that are negatively impacting the customer experience.

Email engagement data lives in your email tool, online ads are managed somewhere else, and customer data lives in a CRM, or more commonly in smaller businesses, a spreadsheet. These systems often don’t ‘speak’ to each other, meaning insights that could drastically improve the customer experience are lost.

This is a missed opportunity for identifying friction in the customer journey that could be negatively impacting the experience your customers have with your brand, and therefore the likelihood that they will become brand advocates.

A scalable ‘tech stack’ is a competitive advantage

Startups and SMEs are in an advantageous position if they get their tech stack right during the infancy of their companies, as their systems will enable scale, instead of hindering it.

There are two options here: hack your systems together as best you can, or use an ‘all-in-one’ system where your tools either come as part of the product or can be seamlessly integrated.

Either way, the end goal is that customer data across all departments lives in one place to provide a single view of the entire customer experience. At the very least, a business’ CRM should be connected to its email marketing tool, so that marketers are able to trigger different emails based on customer behaviour logged in the CRM.

Beyond improving the customer experience, businesses can start to understand what initiatives are driving the most revenue, as they are empowered with the right tools to cross analyse data from marketing channels with the closed deals that have been recorded in their CRM.

Also Read: How startups can defeat challenges in customer satisfaction

When you pair this with post-sale data in the form of customer service calls, support tickets, or repeat purchases, marketers have the data they need to understand which customers might be their strongest brand advocates, and can build effective customer marketing initiatives to facilitate that.

Ultimately, businesses that are empowered with a comprehensive view of the customer experience, and have their tools connected to their CRM, will be much more successful in their pursuit to grow the business.

Editor’s note: e27 publishes relevant guest contributions from the community. Share your honest opinions and expert knowledge by submitting your content here.

Image Credit : dolgachov

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