Your brand experience matters, and not just to your marketing team. Increasingly, your brand experience affects your bottom line. Creating a consistent brand experience begins with devising and delivering a coherent customer experience (CX) strategy that’s consistent across channels. Better customer experience is often key to improving both brand perception and business performance.
The brand experience now encompasses every interaction an existing or potential customer has with your organisation. Whether it’s digital advertising, an interactive voice response (IVR) menu, the chatbot hosted on your website, navigating through self-service content or speaking directly with a contact centre agent, each of these interactions build your brand experience.
Added together, these interactions equate to your brand promise, or what you believe your organisation stands for and what makes it different from its competitors. The ultimate goal is to make sure this promise aligns with customer perception. Because every single interaction either adds to or subtracts from each customer’s experience of doing business with you.
This is why delivering a coherent and consistent customer experience strategy is inextricably linked to both brand perception and company profits.
For 91% of consumers, customer experience is a deciding factor when choosing one brand over another. And, if a brand has an extraordinary customer experience, it could charge a 16% premium for the same products or services and not turn away customers. However, the opposite is also true – 73% of customers are prepared to take their business elsewhere following a single negative brand experience.
So, particularly as your business grows, how do you create and maintain a customer experience that embodies your brand promise, that is consistent across all channels and all geographies, while aligning with your customers’ expectations?
The definition of a good customer experience is different for every brand operating in every industry. A simple transactional, automated, no- frills CX is considered good for a low-cost airline whose brand promise is built around competitive airfares. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, five-star hotel customers expect meticulous care and personal attention throughout their interaction with the brand.
This is why the starting point should be to examine your own perception of your brand. Identify what you believe its promise is and overlay it with customer perception to identify the gaps to close.
Customer analytics can prove invaluable in conducting this exercise, highlighting the areas of customer experience which are driving or diminishing customer satisfaction.
Interrogating valuable, unstructured data such as survey results, case notes, website comments, social media chatter and clickstream analytics also help you discover pain points along the customer journey. Recognising instances where too much customer effort is required and instances where the brand is delivering against expectations that could be easily replicated in other areas of the business or within other communication channels. This is key because it’s only by analysing all channels that an organisation can build a holistic view of customer experience performance verses brand perception.
At the end of this exercise, it should be clear which interactions are helping to build trust with your brand and what aspects of the customer experience offer the greatest potential for delivering a positive impact. These findings help your organisation decide how to leverage touchpoints to create a unique value proposition and differentiate the brand experience.
Not all touchpoints are equal in the mind of your customers. The quickest and most cost-effective way of elevating your customer experience to differentiate your brand is to identify the moments that matter most. Some touchpoints are far more emotive than others. To support sustainable business growth, your goal should be to maximise the experience while minimising the cost of delivering that experience. Therefore, the most effort should be focused on delivering a customer experience that truly exemplifies the brand promise in the most impactful moments. You may also want to build out different experiences for different customer segments, creating experiences in line with expectation of customer lifetime value (CLV).
Examining each of these moments that matter from the customer’s perspective identifies where a new approach is needed and, just as importantly, if the experience is consistent across all channels. For example, would an unhappy customer reaching out through online chat be treated the same or end up feeling differently from someone speaking to an agent on the phone?
Likewise, what about multichannel interactions, where an interaction that begins with self-service content, a chatbot or a conversational or visual IVR then escalates into a moment of truth via a live channel? Do your customers need to repeat themselves or start over when they move into another channel? What sort of negative impact would it have on their perception of your brand? Three in four customers expect to be able to pick up where they left off as they move from channel to channel. Further still, 83% of customers, globally, now take it for granted that even if their issue is complex, it can potentially be solved by interacting with a single person in a single live channel.
Understanding what makes an experience memorable can support you in building experiences that create a positive, long-term brand connection. Studies have shown that an experience doesn’t have to be completely positive to be remembered as a positive experience. People remember the emotional peak and the end of the interaction. So, the goal is to ensure your customer experience is focused on delivering an emotional highpoint and a positive close.
This concept, described as the peak-end rule, comes to life with an example from Chewy, the pet care brand. Chewy’s mission is to be the most trusted and convenient online destination for pet parents everywhere. Chewy is renowned for an unparalleled commitment to customers within the pet care category. Chewy’s response to a distressing moment for the customer demonstrates how even interactions that start from a negative can become positive brand experiences when handled with care and attention.
A Chewy customer recently lost a much-loved pet and reached out to cancel their pet food subscription service. This highly emotional interaction was a moment that mattered greatly to the customer. Chewy empathetically responded to the customer’s grief, creating an emotional highpoint and delivered a positive end to the interaction by sending the customer flowers in memory of their pet. In so doing, Chewy turned what could have been a negative interaction into a positive experience for the customer. It was such a positive experience that the customer posted their experience on LinkedIn encouraging pet parents to try the Chewy brand. Not only did Chewy turn a sad moment into the opportunity to create a loyal customer, they generated positive word of mouth through their customer experience, building their brand reputation and supporting business growth.
The Chewy example demonstrates how your customer service delivery plays an important role in your wider brand and customer experience. Armed with the knowledge of what makes up your brand promise, your customer’s current experience, what your customers value, the moments that matter most across interactions and the way in which people remember experiences, you are ready to plan your customer experience strategy.
Your frontline CX employees are key to delivering against the subsequent customer experience design. When a real moment of truth arises, more often than not, only the understanding, empathy and emotional intelligence an agent brings can deliver the emotional highlight and positive conclusion that customer needs.
This is why ongoing training and leveraging the right technologies is crucial. For instance, with speech and text analytics in support, customer emotions, sentiment and intent can be tracked and flagged in real time. This provides agents with the insights they need to move an interaction towards a positive conclusion as a conversation unfolds.
The right analytics solution also gives managers and coaches real-time feedback regarding agent performance so any element can be coached or improved upon as part of continuous improvement.
Building and delivering a consistent brand experience across the moments that matter to deliver business growth requires a commitment to continuous improvement. Your customer needs are constantly changing as is the competitive business landscape and technological capabilities. This is why it’s key to partnering with an expert to support you with these ongoing initiatives.
But whether you partner with a BPO or forge ahead on your own, the power to define what your brand stands for, how it talks to the market and how it is perceived by existing and potential customers is in your hands and can be guided by a strong customer experience strategy.
Some touchpoints are far more emotive than others. You goal is to maximise the experience while minimising the cost of delivering that experience, so the most effort should be focused on delivering a customer experience that truly exemplifies the brand promise in the most impactful moments. You may also want to build out different experiences for different customer segments, creating experiences in line with expectation of customer lifetime value.
Learn more about how EXP+™ Engage from Sitel Group® elevates the power of human connection to build brand loyalty built upon a foundation of data-driven customer understanding.