Brands with Benefits
Customer Experience is the sum of all actions of all employees, every day. Company Culture is the sum of all actions of all employees, every day.
This quote seems to go well on both sides: employees and customers. And when you think about it, that is not a surprise and not that complicated. A great company culture allows their employees to focus on creating great customer experiences throughout a customer’s lifetime. In return the customer pays in loyalty. With customer loyalty, a company establishes even more great employee experiences so that they have the bandwidth to create even more customer experiences. It doesn’t matter what type of customers, whether B2B or B2C audiences- because it is about humans.
Customer Centricity is often part of a company’s value proposition and refers to the products and services. But true customer centricity always lies within the org and their employees. Then, Customer Experience can even evolve to Brand Experience as a whole. Brand experience is about building true relationships- the ones that we all have in our lives. Brand Experience is not only about how you can increase customer loyalty, customer spend and reduce churn. It is believing in relationships from human to human. You can buy customers at any cost. But even if it sounds like empty rhetoric: you don’t want the customers’ money, you want their relationship, you want them happy. That can become sticky and viral.
Customers come for the product and come back for the experience
As a brand you might want to answer two main questions. a) How the brand must evolve with growth and b) how can the brand drive growth. But first you need to acknowledge that you likely don’t have a brand yet. Not many companies have either. They have products, services and processes. Often siloed projects and incremental improvements over time are being implemented. Departments are driving forward their KPI, whether it is decreasing delivery times or customers churn, improving UX and conversion rate, and lastly increasing customer spend. And that’s a good starting point. It increases revenues and orders. But building a brand experience is entirely different.
True brand experience comes from within. It is about owning the customer, not the order
It is all people in a company that build the brand together. It is neither the leadership teams, nor the customer experience department that build customer centricity or marketing team that builds a brand. It is all employees that need to think from the individual customer rather than an average KPI perspective. Because customer centricity is neither transactional nor a siloed project. It is not the fastest way of processing customers through a funnel so that you achieve high conversion rates. It is a mindset of everyone in the organization to think what the customer might feel in hindsight thinking of the company as a whole „If I could turn back time and make the decision to become a customer of the company again, would I still choose this company?” It is to think of the value that you add to people’s lives.
Customers buy brands not products
This means you need to add something more to it than the best possible process and optimized KPI. Help customers to buy better versions of themselves, think of what promises you give, what feelings you create, what void you fill in people’s lives, how honest you are. And moreover think about your brand that builds personal relationships. “Taste the feeling” is the perfect summary of the Coca Cola’s claim promis. It is not only the taste of the product. It is how the product makes customers feel about it and about themselves. This layer adds personality to the product. And personality equals trust.
Values are created through contrasts. There’s a reason why the subscription economy is growing fast.
Even if you pioneer, you are lucky if you get a 2-year head start. Competition will soon catch up with similar products, services, processes and value propositions. Sometimes it might even be an advantage to come last to a market. So, the question is how to keep a leading position for the next 10 years? Customers need to see and feel the difference to the competition, experiences the customers can’t get elsewhere. Platforms are a great example of an extra layer of value. There is more to the decision as to why customers came for the purchase. Customers appreciate where commerce, content, collabs and community come together. And there must be a platform for every industry because moreover customers appreciate two main values the most: Convenience and reward. Shifting an industry from offline to online is one thing. Providing the ecosystem around it transforms a company to a brand. From meeting demand to creating demand. A brand with benefits.
Personal interaction counts when customers are reaching out
Is a costly thing when customers reach out, yes. But cheaper than any product management department. Let’s say you have 10 million contacts per year with an average of 5 Minutes. Calculated at 365 days a year, 24 hrs. a day, this makes 95 years of customer service. Think about how well you should know friends of yours after talking to them for 95 years. Very well. But now think of how well you know what you know about your own customers. It is likely an average score of NPS, the top 10 customer requests and the costs. But that is really only a fraction. Why is this? This is because you think from an average score and not the customer. Neither enough interest made it through to wanting you to know the customer.
How are you?
Personal conversations always start with a “how are you?” This is learned and even though we hear it many times during the day, it always opens a connection to another human being. Even in countries where it has become more and more an empty phrase, everyone’s woke on a personal level. So instead of transactionally asking “how may I help you (with your issue), ask “how are you?` It could be the start of an authentic and personal conversation.
Customers don’t always need what they think they need. But they need it anyways
Think of your last 10 online orders. It may be something from Amazon, Zalando, Gorillas. Unless it was coffee beans or printing paper, neither of it was really urgent. You could have waited some days for your charger, new shoes, shampoo or books to arrive. But the reality is that companies with exceptional delivery experience conditioned the customers throughout the digital era with same-day-delivery, even same-hour-delivery. And now all other companies need to catch up. It is the evolution of the delivery experience.
This is moreover because customers appreciate saving life time a lot. So, a delivery within a few days is perceived as long. And perception is reality. Even though the product might not have been even needed in that short time frame, companies that master time saving for customers will have a big competitive advantage.
Thinking of the initial statement that customers and employees experiences go hand in hand, true employee centricity culture is again a question to all. It is not a hierarchy question. Companies are built by humans for humans. And all humans have the same set of psychological needs. It is about security, autonomy, equality, recognition and purpose.
By Anastasia Polyshchuk, Alisa Cebotarenco, Roman Odinokov, Yuliia Teteryuk, Carmen Beissner
May 17, 2022