Customers = Brand Experience

In an article from MediaPost, Ingrid Froelich emphasizes that “brand experience is defined by your customers’ perceptions of their interaction with you.” The way that your customers experience your brand across channels whether they are active or passive in this, all affect the way they see your brand. This can make your break your brand experience.

“To stand out, organisations now need to meet and exceed customer expectations.”

So how is this done? First, you need to know your customers and what exactly are their expectations.

  1. Know your customers. The easiest way of doing this is not by assuming what they know but by simply listening to your customers. Take an ‘Outside In’ perspective to help you to understand and emphasize with your customers because the customer voice can strongly affect the way your brand is perceived. “By hearing the customer voice, the organisation can prioritize change and support the most valuable touchpoints.” Every channel has value, however, by placing your focus on the areas your customers most value, it will become a win-win situation.
  2. Don’t be a stalker. It’s great knowing your customers but not in the same way a stalker knows their victim. To create a genuine brand experience, it is important to give your customers privacy. Combine your real-time data with information your customers have volunteered to give to you. “Responsible use of customer data enhances loyalty by responding to preferences.”
  3. Weave customer-centricity throughout your organisation. Customers do not necessarily think about the operations and different departments behind their experience with your brand, whether they are good or bad. “All of the good intentions in the world and all of the speeches from CEOs and customer advocates in your organization cannot replace the need for a fundamental customer-centric culture and process.” Therefore every aspect of your organisation must maintain customer-centric goals so that the customer experience is seamless and consistent.

Read more of MediaPost’s points here. 

Digital CRM, the New Way Forward?

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) manages customers’ interactions with a company. This helps companies to analyse their customers’ behaviours, predict their wants and to deliver a customer experience that is more fulfilling.

An article from TechTarget claims that a digital CRM is the new way forward for every industry (from Disneyland to dishwashers). With this knowledge, organisations can personalise their products to suit their customers’ needs. The article explains how a smart refrigerator by Samsung can track its contents allowing users to share shopping lists and notify them when someone has bought the mustard. Using a digital CRM to improve  customers’ experiences with your service/product will of course, create happy customers who are more likely to attract more business and remain loyal to your organisation.

The data collected from digital CRMs however, can also be used for targeted marketing. Details such as the time and date that customers use a certain service/product is one of the many pieces of information that is noted. In our previous post, we explained that companies should stay away from being stalker-like. Of course there are certain limits of using sensitive data to sell to marketers. If companies begun to do so, customers’ trust would be greatly affected, giving your brand a bad name. This will have serious affects on your customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Read the full TechTarget article here. 

Online Customer Experience

“Customer experience is a well-known differentiator, but still few companies are on the path to doing something about it.” Customers are able to access various information about products, offerings, company reviews and so much more over the internet yet many companies still struggle to take advantage of that.

“There is tremendous opportunity for companies that can create a stand-out experience for their prospects and customers.”

According to a Business 2 Community article (link below), there are four characteristics to consider that will make an exceptional online experience.

  1. Sustainability. “Will you be able to always provide the same valuable experience to customers over time?” Examine the capabilities of your team and the resources you have available over a period of time. An experience that cannot be up to the standard customers were once introduced to is far more damaging than an average experience. Therefore it is important to maintain the level of service.
  1. Consistency sometimes. “when you are consistent about things like customer service, product quality, speedy delivery time, offering rewards, this keeps the customers satisfied.” However it is also important to not become predictable but perhaps reward customers with spontaneous events or discounts. This will get customers more engaged with your brand and related news.
  1. Accessibility. Customers have “their own preferences for interacting with companies that they rely on, so it is important to make sure all avenues are open to them.” Allow customers to interact with your company through various devices, social media or email. When customers are given an option that suits their needs and lifestyle they are more likely to respond to your brand.
  1. Humanistic. “Customers want to know that there is an actual person on the other side of each interaction that understands their situation and is committed to helping them get through it.” Devote time and effort into getting customers what they want by giving support and immediate action on their issues with your product/service. Do what you can to show your customer that you care about them by leading them to people who can help if necessary.

“Your customer experience strategy takes planning, understanding of your customers, and the implementation of the right tools.” Check if your online experience show signs of these four characteristics and build upon them.

Read the full article here. 

The Debate on how to be Customer Centric

A blog post by Wim Rampen discusses an article titled: “Customer Centricity, still in its infancy”. Wim Rampen believes that a CEM (Customer Experience Management)/CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategies aren’t a necessity or a simple solution for companies to become customer centric. His argument claims that small businesses can be customer centric and therefore it can work on a large scale as well meaning that a CEM/CRM strategy does not need to be in place.

Customer Centricity, we believe, is a result of a cultural change made in a business. This  change is one that has been mutually agreed upon and delivered through every aspect of the business. People are the heart of any organisation and when those people put people first (their customers), the organisation becomes truly customer centric. This is a result of clear, comphrehensive and sustainable customer orientated goals and training.

Businesses without a clear direction or understanding of their customers often have difficulty in becoming customer centric. Proto Partners help companies to uncover their customers’ wants and needs, areas where improvement is most needed (and will yield profits) and ways it can be implemented.

Read Wim’s post here. 

What is successful Co-Creation made of?

When people come together to inspire each other, bounce ideas off each other, bring their skills and talent to the table and work together to create, great things happen. However, “Co-creation is more than a tool; it is a Program of Change.”

According to Fronteer, there are 4 types of co-creation and 5 guiding principles to successful co-creation.

The 4 types are:

  • Club of experts: Through a selection process, individuals with specific skills are invited to work on the challenge at task.
  • Crowd of people: Crowdsourcing so there is strength in numbers and a variety of skills and ideas.
  • Coalition of parties: Parties decide to collaborate in order to solve complex issues.
  • Community of kindred spirits: A group of people with similar interests and goals come together for a greater good.

This is a result of the two dimensions of co-creation. Since there must be an initiator for co-creation there is the question of openness and ownership. Does one group or person take responsibility over the whole process and result and is it open for others to join (and who decides who’s in and who isn’t?).

At Proto Partners we co-create in several ways. The most popular is first to co-create as Partners (a Club of Experts) and secondly we co-create with the client (Coalition of Parties). We believe that by combining our efforts and involving our clients, the results are far more insightful.

Read the full article and 5 guiding principles here. 

When Less is More

Most customers only remember up to five benefits offered at services says retail consultant, Fred Thompson. Considering this fact, when it comes to customer loyalty, less is more. Therefore knowing and fulfilling customers’ key wants effectively will increase customer loyalty. In a study of a major fashion retailer, it was found that customers did not realize some of their extra benefits like valet parking. “There’s a propensity to load programs with benefits and features, assuming that customers will remember and value a broader offering.” However this is not the case, time and money put into benefits that aren’t remembered or important to customers is a lost cause.

If companies were to reduce the number of benefits offered, which ones should they choose? Fred Thompson emphasizes pinpointing the needs of your customers and to seek to understand them. A customer journey that maps out all the key painpoints can help to identify which areas need focussing on.

Read more of this article and Fred Thompson’s tips. 

Ten Things We Can Learn

Seth Godin posted about the ten things we can learn from airports. Here are a few:

  • No one is in charge of the airport: It’s like a huge network of companies, teams and people working together as one to make it work. It’s great to put a face and name to a brand but sometimes when a brand can go beyond a figure head (there are pros and cons to both!), the people and environment envision the brand’s identity. The brand essence runs through every aspect of the said business and the customers experiences it entirely.
  • Airports see and treat customers as powerless transients: Many people depend on airports completely, since there aren’t numerous choices of flight within the city a traveller lives in. Many aspects of a travelers experience with the airport depend solely on the airport. The flow of people, bags and planes depend on how accurately and efficiently the airport is organized. However having control over your customer this does not necessarily equal their happiness. When customers feel in powerless, insecure and unsure they are more likely to have a bad experience.
  •  “By assuming that their customer base prefers to save money, not anxiety, they create an anxiety-filled system.” this is a great example of when businesses think they know what their customers want versus really knowing what they want. Understanding what customers really want can uncover the huge turning point for your business. Imagine a world where customers are put at ease from the moment they buy their ticket to the moment they land at their destination. No hassles, no stresses, no lines and no lost baggage. More people wouldn’t hesitate to travel then!
  •  “Everyone who passes through leaves no trace, every morning starts anew.” The airport is full of strangers. There is no sense of home.

3 Ways Technology Improves Customer Experience

“Technological advances have put power in the hands of customers”. Here are the three ways technology has changed the customer experience for the better. 

 

1. The rise of social media

Bad customer experiences spread quickly as the use of internet and social media expands. Customer reviews, complaints and suggestions are now easily available to customers can go viral. This means companies must act just as fast in order to reclaim their brand promises and make up for their shortcomings. “Like the shot heard around the world, customer complaints can and do make a difference.”

 

2. Instant information

If product/services reviews are easy to access, then offers, prices and deals are even easier. Customers are readily targeted by new offers from numerous companies through social media, apps and simple internet browsing. Information on products and services are instantly available and comparable through online tools. Subsequently, companies will have to work harder to improve their products/services to suit their customers’ needs.

 

3. New customer tools and contact channels

More and more customers access companies through various channels. This can include apps, social media, TV and mobile devices. Customers are given access to more self help channels and various ways to enjoy the same products and services. For example, Spotify making themselves readily available for smartphones rather than just via desktops or PCs.

 

Read More Here. 

Why Companies get Strategy Wrong

In an interview with Business Insider, P&G’s Ex-CEO A.G. Lafley explains the main reasons people get strategy wrong.

Businesses and people don’t like to make choices
If people don’t make choices to change at all, how do they expect to make a difference? Lafley mentions that “choices are the core of strategy.” However, most people fear decision making because it is difficult and requires a lot of risk taking. This stops them from bringing their company forward with an efficient strategy. 

Companies go halfway and don’t fully develop a strategy
Rather than of not making choices at all, some companies have decided with a strategy but don’t fully fulfill it. Lafley suggests that companies go all or nothing when it comes to carrying out a strategy and explains that “strategy is five choices…What is winning; where am I going to play to win; how am I going to win where I play; where are my core competencies that are going to enable me to win where I play; and what management systems and measures are going to help me execute my strategies?”

Companies have to define an ideal future in strategic terms, limit the field rather than try to please everybody, decide on the best strategy for that market, discover and use what they’re best at, and determine how to support and measure its people as they carry out the strategy.

Companies must identify their ideal strategy that is best for their market, what their strongest points are and work specifically on those.

Strategy requires the on boarding of everyone in an organization. It is in a sense, a cultural change where staff is onboard and working together to make those difficult choices together and completely act on them to move forward.

Read the full article here. 

Poor Customer Experience = Loss of Revenue

The Oracle Global Research Study has recently found that “that brands could lose up to 20% of revenue due to poor customer experiences”. The lack of a consistent, positive customer experience that lacks brand relevancy can affect the way customers see your brand, how they interact with it and subsequently, how much they will spend with you. With a high 89% of customers leaving brands for a competitor, businesses cannot afford to stand idle but must act on becoming customer-centric.

Businesses can improve their customer experience through engaging customers through relevant social media. The report states, “social media amplifies the customer voice.” Allowing your customers to relate to your brand through various channels like social media increases your presence but also allows for more customer feedback that can be acted upon.

Furthermore, “a good customer experience strategy requires fundamental organizational changes.” To successfully do this, the report breaks it down to three steps:

  1. Build training programs and incentives for employees to offer a great experience
  2. Update company core values to include customer experience
  3. Implement a specific technology to improve customer service

Read the full report here.