Next time you open Netflix, I want you to try something.
When you see your tailored suggestions, as the platform starts the video right where you left off on your iPad, stop and take note of that experience.
How do these experiences actually make you feel?
Does the device handoff give you a rush of excitement and gratitude?
Start over. Imagine opening Netflix again.
Your recommendations are gone, replaced with an unfiltered list of content. The list feels random, but then you'd expect at least a couple of shows to be of random interest. They're not. That episode you're halfway through on your iPad? You'll have to scroll back and forth to find your place. Ultimately, you'll probably just rewatch parts of the episode “just to be safe”.
If you're like me (my apologies if you are), you'll react more to this moment of friction than the moment of seamless performance. The seamless experience is largely invisible — it's unfelt — while the bad experience is impossible to ignore. Based on how bad it is, it'll haunt you and sometimes make you question your life choices.
It may even push you toward Hulu or Disney +, or another platform that you trust more.
The same dynamic is at play for the digital experiences you deliver to customers.
2020 and 2021 accelerated digital transformation across industries, creating a new set of expectations in your customers' personal and professional lives.
For them, being delighted isn't a capstone to their experience as your customer; it's the cornerstone your relationship is built on. Today's buyers have more options, and disruptors are acquiring — and retaining — new business through the experience they provide their customers.
These new expectations present huge opportunities for those who are willing to rethink their digital experiences and a huge risk for those who are not.
So, why are so many businesses failing to meet these expectations?
Is it because they just don't care about the customers' experience? Sometimes — but not usually. A vast majority of businesses would love to deliver a delightful experience.
The reason they don't is mostly because cobbled-together point solutions can't deliver a clear view of the customer.
After all, scaling companies are in a constant state of adaptation. As new needs and opportunities arise, companies introduce a network of individual solutions that solve discrete problems: a CRM to manage customer data, a CMS to build their website, and marketing automation to scale their efforts.
Over time, as you add more solutions, your company's tech stack grows so unwieldy it becomes a barrier between you and your customers instead of a bridge. It keeps you from the agile reporting you need and makes automation way more complicated than it should be. It makes personalization unreliable and messaging fragmented.
Since the dawn of the digital age, the status quo has been to rely on a separate CRM, CMS and automation tool. It's what many marketing leaders have accepted as a necessary evil — despite the friction it causes for customers.
So, how do today's companies win?
By delivering a best-in-class, unified digital experience that exceeds customer expectations. Doing this requires two foundational elements.
Any marketing based on assumptions is doomed to failure. To get the digital experience right for every individual customer at scale requires reliable, organized and actionable data.
Not just ‘who are your customers?' but ‘who is this customer?' How and where have they interacted with you digitally? What do they need from you right now, and more importantly, what will they need from you next?
At HubSpot, we built the Customer Code with this philosophy in mind: Use the data you have access to, don't abuse it. But in order to leverage the data you gather to create better digital experiences, all of your customer-facing teams need a single source of truth for that data — a key ingredient that's beyond the reach of companies that still use cobbled-together solutions. That's where centralization comes in.
Providing a seamless experience across touchpoints is really a matter of shifting from ad hoc point solutions to a crafted, unified platform that provides a single view of the customer. When a CMS sits alongside key sales, services, and marketing tools in a centralized system, every customer-facing team knows how customers are interacting with their business and — more importantly — how they can help.
And this is the key: if you want your marketing, sales and service teams to deliver a great experience, you have to give them a fighting chance. You do this by having the systems and data they use aligned and unified.
For example, consider a repeat visitor to your pricing page. If both marketing and sales can see this activity, the marketing team can send a discount code or helpful resources that contextualize your pricing while sales can reach out to offer guidance or a product demo.
With this centralized platform and toolset, you can see and anticipate customer needs and take action immediately. You can tailor digital experiences on an individual level, across touchpoints, using the most up-to-date insights on customer needs, questions or interests — just like they expect you to.
The CRM for Today's Customer Expectations
The answer to these business challenges isn't just to use a CRM. You probably already have one of those. If you're really unlucky, maybe even two. It probably doesn't allow you to easily do any of what I just described, and it likely can't deliver the seamless experiences your customers expect.
Instead, you need a CRM platform that has been designed specifically to meet today's sky-high customer expectations; one that you can adapt to changing customer expectations, align your teams around, and adopt without an uphill change management battle. (And no, there are no change management battles that are downhill).
To pull off this digital experience at scale, you need to rethink the underlying components of the experience itself.
The customer-facing pieces — your website, email content, advertising, member portals — are front and center. But only touchpoints that are powered by a modern, purpose-built CRM provide the personalization and timeliness that distinguish an average digital interaction from an elite one.
And whether it's Netflix, HubSpot or your corner cafe, delivering elite customer experiences is the key to navigating uncertain times, thriving in the digital-first era, and ultimately, growing better.