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Are you giving your customers a great brand experience? There's a good chance you're not — and you're failing to recognize it. Research conducted by Harris Poll and RedPoint Global, suggests there's an enormous gap between how well brands think they're meeting their customers' expectations and how the customers feel about it.

A whopping 92% of brands say they provide exceptional customer experiences, but 72% of consumers think brands are struggling to meet their expectations. This gap should be a wake-up call to anyone interested in keeping their business healthy and making more sales.

Customer experiences will make or break your brand

We all know there's a direct link between customer experience and brand loyalty. Brands that deliver excellent, personalized experiences gain the trust of their customers and are rewarded with more sales and other benefits, such as brand advocacy. That's why it's so imperative that marketers understand how well their brand is getting along with its customers. Considering that a loyalty increase of 7% can boost lifetime profits per customer by as much as 85%, and a loyalty increase of 3% can correlate to a 10% cost reduction (Brand Keys), you'd think brands would be laser-focused on making sure every customer touchpoint exceeded expectations. Yet here we are, with most brands sticking their heads in the sand, unwilling to recognize there's a problem.

The challenges are real

If you're thinking, "it's just so hard to put all of the pieces together," you're not alone. The challenges marketers face when attempting to provide excellent customer experiences are real, and I believe they're the reason so many brands would rather choose to think they're doing an excellent job than take a deep dive into how they can do better. Whether the challenge is real-time engagement, customer understanding or personalization, marketers are frustrated. Brands may have multiple systems handling customer touchpoints and face issues with integrating data. Or just as likely, implementing systems to gather data and develop a cohesive customer view is seen as costly and time-consuming. Even when brands have a clear picture of the customer, creating personalized content at scale is a challenge most brands have yet to solve. But, to reap the rewards of customer loyalty, brands must press forward to deliver the personalization and instant gratification that consumers crave.

With a solid data foundation, brands can do better

As a foundation for providing great experiences, marketers need to have a solid grasp on customer data. While utilizing internal, first-party data is seen as a prerequisite, meeting the demands of today's consumers also requires insights from third-party demographics and the ability to tap into the power of behavioral intent. Wading through the martech landscape can be daunting but finding technology to help make sense of data and having processes in place that continually integrate data just as quickly as it's produced are crucial. It's only after tackling challenges with data that brands can begin to leap over the other great hurdles of creating exceptional, personalized customer experiences.