Every organization is concerned about the "customer experience.” Or at least it should be. But not every organization connects the customer experience with its brand. It should.
Brand is defined in many ways. My favorite is that it’s the promise your company makes to its customers. And what does this have to do with customer experience? Everything.
Customer experience is literally the brand promise, experienced. And it begins the moment a customer perceives they need your product/service. Their journey with your brand starts as soon as they see your store, your sign, your ad, your website, etc. and continues when they interact with your people, your process, your product, your service, etc. Each experience arouses an emotion and leaves an indelible mental imprint that influences their perception of your brand.
To think of customer experience only in terms of operational process understates its influence on your organization’s success. Wouldn’t you like to, not only build a great business, but also a great brand?
If a company’s marketing materials portray its brand personality as warm, caring, and approachable, yet customers must endure an automated phone system with eight choices and 10 minutes on hold to ask a simple question, after they provide their account number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name, then that’s a problem. A brand problem, not just a frustrating customer experience. That’s because there’s a disconnect between the customer’s expectation, per the brand promise, and their experience.
So, what’s a business leader to do? Measure customer experience qualitatively, not just with quantitative satisfaction surveys. Engage a consumer insights (a.k.a. research) professional to explore customer wants, needs, attitudes, emotions, and behaviors. Know that customer emotions change at various points along their journey with your brand, and design your process accordingly.
Integrating research methodologies and synthesizing their findings will reveal the most complete picture of how to design a customer experience that supports your brand. Customer journey mapping plots the route a customer takes during their experience with your organization, including detours and circles. It should also plot the emotions associated with each stop and consider how the process can support delivery of an on-brand customer experience.
Go ahead and conduct surveys that ask about satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, ease of doing business, etc. But also collect feedback about how well your process delivers the brand promise, how customers describe your company, and what’s most important to them about their experience.
You might be surprised by their answers. Or not. You’ll surely be glad you asked.
Customer Experience research insights contributed by Neal Kreitman, Senior Partner, ABN Partners. If you found this helpful, please share it with a colleague. If you want to know more about how the customer experience is a brand thing, too, give me a call, send me a note, or let’s meet. You’ll be glad you did.