1473 Paul GodwinWell according to recent research  (https://www.walkerinfo.com/knowledge-center/featured-research-reports/customers-2020-a-progress-report)

by 2020 the customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

We have seen this evolve within the UK window and door industry over the past decade but perhaps we have not quantified it as a specific trend. But now wider industry - and especially within business-to-business circles – recognises that the whole customer experience (or CX to use the trendy marketeers’ terminology) will soon clearly outweigh the importance of product and price.

We have seen this developing within our industry in some clear scenarios. A breakthrough in product development will allow the originator of that product some leeway before others catch up. For a period that company will enjoy price advantage before others launch their own products, invariably offering price advantages to give them leverage. Once every supplier in a sector has that product, the emphasis changes to the quality of supply, customer and marketing support – in other words the customer experience. Take as examples: Flush sash windows; bi-folding doors; vertical box sash windows; and others.

Experiential marketing has now transformed from being an added edge, a bonus to give a product or brand a helping hand over the competition, to becoming an essential factor within the marketing strategy of any company. Launches can no longer rely upon a product being unique or having added USPs in the market place to get the product out there; the customer experience must be considered from the outset. Not only should the product/price balance be carefully calculated, every aspect of the relationship must be considered ahead of the launch.

CX marketing requires communication of course but almost by definition that communication should be face-to-face. Thus a well trained field sales team will be essential not only to deliver and communicate the potential of a company’s product/price/experience offer, but it must continue to communicate this on regular basis.

This is ironic in the face of arguably ever more efficient digital and data solutions but these should be used to develop customer experiences rather than being relied upon to deliver them. But there is increasing evidence that we are all becoming less tolerant of faceless digital communications, dismissing anything but those that are directly of interest to us and even then, after having captured our attention in the first place in a sea of forgettable dross.

It is essential that the cold, data driven world of digital is combined with a more human touch to ensure the delivery and sustainability of a more effective customer experience. Companies are beginning to realise that a one-size-fits-all approach seldom works and this is something that will be to the benefit of all of us as we re-engage with our customers – and of course, as our suppliers re-engage with us.

The value of live events, including exhibitions, has therefore never been greater, as the return on investment of well run exhibitions such as the FIT Show, enables larger volumes of customers and of course, potential customers, to be targeted perfectly using a combination of digital and personal engagement. Companies at the leading edge of experiential marketing are using live events far more frequently and effectively for an excellent return on investment simply as they can reach more people, more effectively than by any other medium, digital or analogue, by initiating that personal customer experience the way it should be sustained – face-to-face.