Customers

What makes an experience irresistible to your customers?

The world of brands and branding is going through fundamental and permanent change, in fact we call it the New Era of Branding, and to compete we need to change the way we think about and manage our brands.

This New Era is best summed up by a quote from C.G Jung, who said: “You are defined by what you do, not what you say you are going to do.”

In other words your brand is consumed through the direct customer interactions you deliver, rather than indirect sales messages and PR or advertising campaigns.

Why you must understand your customer

This single change means that we must seek to understand three core issues:

  1. How customers see your brand
  2. How they differentiate between the multitude of other brands available to them
  3. How what you do makes them feel
Without customer understanding we are just guessing.

Most businesses have plenty of helpful marketing information that tells them what their customers have done in the past, but we also need to know is what they might do or need in the future. We need to develop a much broader persona of our customers – how they feel about the experiences we give them, their digital profile and activity, what they are saying about us in the world of social media and ultimately, what happens when they transact with us.

Whatever we do we must fight against internally focused thinking and look outside the business to the people who, after all, have the money we are seeking for our insights.

5 ways to give your customers their desired experience

Having been helping our clients provide customer experiences that deliver their brands for over 16 years, (and a couple of decades before that!) I thought it might be useful to share a few observations that will hopefully help you develop your understanding of your customers and, most importantly how you might use it to build a stronger brand in the New Era.

  1. Everyone has a customer experience, the choice is whether you manage it or not
Through a deep understanding of your customers’ emotional and rational needs you will be able to plan your customer experience right down to the very moment when your brand interacts with them. You will be able to see where the brand must get the basics done brilliantly and then where it can really amplify itself – driving digital and social media commentary and noise – thus allowing you to focus the right resources and effort where they’re needed most.

Begin to identify your customers’ turn-off points; where have you asked them to put too much effort into the process? As well as where you are not creating that critical emotional bond all brands seek to establish.

How you make your customers feel can be a point of competitive advantage in the New Era. Without understanding you don’t get off 1st base.

  1. Your customers see one company, we see a number of departments
We have built our business based on specific departments or roles delivering specific tasks for the business. In the New Era these silos work against the ability to deliver a truly irresistible customer experience; the “computer says no” syndrome.

Over the years we have found that the answer lies in bringing cross functional teams together to build new customer experiences based on their own knowledge as well as the insights from the customer, all guided by the brand.

  1. Creating new collaborations is great for the business, brand and your people
It’s time to break down the historic boarders between marketing and operations, sales and logistics, HR and finance, because everyone in your business is now a brand builder or destroyer.

Creating teams that have skills, capabilities and knowledge from across the business and customer experience means that you build solutions that can work seamlessly for the benefit of your customers. This process can not only demonstrate the influence each member of the team has on their colleagues throughout the customer experience, but also the immense value of their contribution to the business.

  1. Keeping it real speeds up delivery
These programmes work best where all those involved can see the influence of the process on the jobs they do. It falls down when it becomes a set piece of “show and tell” training.

How many “brand immersion” sessions have we all run where there is no direct relationship between the brand and the day job?

Engage and challenge the team to develop ways of delivering the brand through the customer experience in their day jobs and the results can be quite remarkable. It can take “fluffy” marketing concepts and turn them into deliverable operational activity.

  1. Don’t think out of the box, just out of the business
The power of putting yourself and all your people into the shoes and minds of your customers can be a real eye opener for everyone.

One technique that we see working is to simply describe a customer type and then walk through the journey with a number of people from across the business. Ask a few simple questions:

  • What do we do here?
  • How does our brand want customers to feel?
  • How do we actually make them feel?
  • What needs to change tomorrow?
Looking from the outside in may sound obvious, but it never ceases to amaze me how few do it properly and frequently.

The value of your internal brand builders to the customer experience

Most of this stuff is common sense but strangely, it’s not applied rigorously by brands. Where we do see it applied, the results are very positive both in terms of brand perceptions but more importantly financially.

If you take just two points away from this article, I would ask you to remember Jung’s thought-provoking quote: “You are defined by what you do, not what you say you are going to do”. And, that everyone in your business either builds your brand or destroys it. Your business is to make them all builders.

By Andrew Stothert, CEO and founding partner at Brand Vista