Why is brand experience crucial to business success?

Andrew Stothert, CEO of Brand Vista, argues it’s time to think beyond customer service and look at how customers experience our brands

Many years ago the head of Amazon said: “A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. For me, he really nailed the issue of how we should all think about our brands.

So if you, as I do, believe that a brand is an outcome of many interactions between our customers and our business then what people will talk about, either positively or negatively, is the outcome of interacting with our business through all the touchpoints we create – digital, sales, marketing, finance, IT, operations etc.

Therefore it seems to me, after more than 20 years delivering customer experience alignment, that the experience delivered to the customer is business critical no matter what sector you trade in.

We need to think beyond customer service

Furthermore, I would suggest we think beyond customer service and focus on the holistic concept of brand or customer experience, as it must encompass all of the people and activities of our business.

This presents us with a comprehensive opportunity to build a cross-functional, inter-departmental process in which we can identify, envision, map and manage the whole customer experience in order to consistently deliver the brand promises we make.

I have always found Carl Jung’s statement: “A person is defined by what they do and not by what they say they are going to do” to be a great encapsulation of the issue we all face – actions speak louder than words.

The other thought I keep close to me when supporting our customers is that we all have a customer experience, whether we like it or not. The choice we need to make is whether we manage it or not.

If we choose to manage it, where do we start?

A good starting point is in the shoes of your customers.

Imagine you have sold your services or product to my company, I will interact with many of your departments that apparently come under the same brand that has been sold to me, but will my experience be seamless and elegant? More to the point, will it truly represent the brand you are trying to deliver?

Forgive me if I take a negative approach here to make my point, I know none of this stuff will be happening in your business.

I might see a finance team who struggle to get the invoicing sorted because the sales team have given them the wrong data and make this my problem, or a sales team who closed the sale by promising me the world and then disappear as soon as the brand underdelivers.

Inadvertently, we have created potential cohorts of what I like to call CXPOs or the customer experience prevention officers.

The point I am trying to make here is that everyone is a brand builder, or destroyer, in today's interconnected, relationship-based world we all transact in.

So here are three tips that will hopefully help:

1. Bringing teams from across silos to map your customer experiences will have extraordinary impact across the business

Your customers see one business when they transact with you, not a series of departments, so we need to make sure they see one brand when they interact with us.

The best way to deliver this is to bring a team together from across all disciplines of the business and have them map the customer experience. This will help them to see the impacts their actions have on their colleagues as well are your customers.

You will be amazed how often you will see 'light bulb moments' around the team as they see the whole picture for what is often the first time.

2. The best customer experiences are built using deep insights into their real needs and attitudes

We all have to avoid 'making it up' when it comes to building aligned customer experiences. The more empirical insights and evidence we use, the more likely we are to build something special for our customers. Ask your customers to help, they will be delighted to be asked and it communicates you want to listen to them. So it has the added benefit of improving customer relationships.

Using this insight ensures your team hears the voice of the customer and how their actions can directly impact the customer experience.

3. Get the basics right before you try and do anything spectacular

Too many brands plan to deliver spectacular 'magic moments' before they are delivering the basics brilliantly. This can really backfire, because getting the basics right gives you the permission to do the magic stuff, not the other way around. It may surprise you to know that ensuring the experience is delivered consistently at each customer touch point may even be an opportunity to differentiate, as too few companies get their basics right.

The value of your internal brand builders to the brand experience

While these points may seem like common sense to many people, these principles are not being applied rigorously by enough brands. When applied, brands are able to see extremely positive results in how people perceive their brand and also how financial the business becomes.

If you only take two main points away from the article then firstly, remember everyone in your business either builds on or destroys your brand. Your mission is to make sure your business is full of builders. Secondly, remember Jung’s words of wisdom:

“You are defined by what you do, not what you say you are going to do”.