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To Grow Your Career, See The Whole Customer Experience
It's important for SEO professionals to be well-versed in search, but columnist Nathan Safran reminds us that true leaders understand the bigger picture as well.
The act of doing SEO — and doing it well — is an involved and time-consuming endeavor. Addressing business issues, reporting galore, evangelizing SEO to the rest of the organization, and many other tasks all require time and attention.
The fact is, there is more than enough for search professionals to do within the confines of their own domain without concerning themselves with what occurs outside of the top of the buyer’s journey funnel where they operate.
To be sure, the role the SEO plays in the organization is vital — without visitors coming to your site, there are no customers. Plenty of data has been published on the percentages of site traffic across all vertical sites attributed to organic search, and in all cases it is several times that of the second biggest channel.
But, before returning to your very myopic view of the world from a search perspective, consider the following.
The Customer Experience Is Key
According to Duke University’s CMO Survey, top customer priorities include a trusting relationship and excellent service. These priorities trump that of price, suggesting the overall experience the customer has, and general feel they get from the brand, is more important even than the price they pay.
In fact, a recent consumer survey by Accenture found that nearly two thirds (64%) had switched service providers due to poor customer service. This is interesting because “poor customer service” is broad enough that it could mean a variety of things.
Customer experience is comprised of a pyramid of mini-experiences: how visitors felt navigating your site, how informed they were during the purchase process, how they felt talking to your customer service people, etc. The way they feel as a result of these interactions will be the deciding factor in their likelihood to return — and to recommend your brand to others.
There’s plenty more data to support the importance of the whole customer experience in obtaining and retaining customers. Forrester Research notes that 45% of US customers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. Oracle found [PDF] that 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. You get the idea.
The fact is, the flattening of the world that the web has enabled means that if customers don’t like the experience they have with your brand, many others are a mere Google search away. Increasingly, brands are aware of this — so much so, in fact, that 22% of Fortune 100 companies now have a Chief Customer Officer.
Speak To The Concerns Of The CEO
All this is to say that search is a vital cog in the wheel of any successful marketing strategy, but it remains a singular cog. The CEO is concerned with growing revenue, and that means retaining customers and making them feel sufficiently good about the brand that they will recommend it to others.
Although there is more than enough to do in search alone, if you wish to be thought of as business leader who thinks strategically and holistically, you must extend your thinking to the overall good of the company rather than limiting it to the confines of your own neighborhood.
Start by demonstrating your awareness of the importance of a complete customer experience. This might mean dipping a toe in by involving yourself in issues adjacent to search, such as discussions about the landing pages that appear in the search results or social media strategies.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.