Almost three-quarters (74%) of Australians see customer experience as one of the most important factors in their purchasing decisions, a study from PwC Australia has shown.

Organisations should look to create the kind of customer experience that satisfies the customer and turns them into a brand advocate. Doing so will require organisations to deliver highly personalised experiences that exceed customers’ expectations, according to Konica Minolta.

“In the cluttered consumer marketplace, a strong brand reputation can be the difference between new leads and lost sales,” Konica Minolta Australia general manager of marketing, Mark Brown said.

“While businesses can move the needle by selling their vision directly to the public, it’s the support of customers-turned-advocates that make all the difference in attracting and retaining valuable new customers.”

The difference between a customer and an advocate is significant.

Customers are transactional, simply purchasing a business’s products and services. Meanwhile, advocates act as multipliers. They communicate their brand preference to their immediate and extended circle, encouraging others to purchase from the companies they prefer. Brand advocates are not easy to create because they demand an impactful, authentic experience every time they interact with the organisation. Although this can be difficult to achieve, the rewards can be enormous.

Konica Minolta Australia has shared three ways to nurture this relationship from a business perspective:

1. Investing in partnerships
Successful partnerships require equity and balance, and an opportunity to both give and take. If a relationship between businesses and their vendors becomes unbalanced, the customer experience can be affected. This can result in mediocre customer experiences that do not inspire customers to become advocates.

2. Deliver on promises
The vast majority (97%) of employees agree that integrity is in business important. However, more than half of those employees believe their organisational integrity has either stayed the same or worsened over the last 18 months, an EY report has found. Businesses should look to establish credibility by being accountable and delivering on promises with customers on time, and in full.

3. Anticipate needs and provide extra value to go above and beyond
Great business leaders should not only have their customers’ current needs in mind; they should be able to anticipate future needs and desires as the relationship continues to flourish. This is known as hyperpersonalisation, and only comes through consistent relationship development based on a clear understanding of the customer’s past behaviour, purchase drivers, current environment, and potential for growth.