Remember Your Brand When Designing Your Customer Experience
Customer experience (CX) is a hot topic. As customers flit between online and offline dimensions, brands scramble to keep up. It’s become a strategic marketing imperative to provide a seamless and effortless customer experience across online and offline customer touchpoints.
The CX agenda is dominated by the theme of reducing friction. The aim is to understand the different customer pathways and help move them along the sales funnel as quickly and easily as possible, which can be facilitated by marketing automation tools like Salesforce or Marketo. The focus is, overwhelmingly, on maximising sales funnel performance through analytic intelligence. But it’s easy to forget the role of the brand and the part it plays in the customer experience.
CX is tagged as a key source of competitive advantage. Some organisations are just beginning to crawl, while others are already running. In time, the gap will close, and then an organisation’s CX advantage will erode. Sooner or later there’ll be a glut of organisations providing seamless and effortless customer experiences. Then what?
The next source of competitive advantage will be emotionally compelling and differentiated customer experiences — the emotional intelligence of CX.
It starts by identifying a unifying emotional response that the brand should trigger in a customer when interacting with any touchpoint in the CX system. Whether a customer is watching branded VOD or paying for their basket in an eCommerce checkout, they should be experiencing a cohesive and consistent emotional reaction.
An appropriate emotional response is so important because it almost always precedes the creation of powerful, lasting memories. The sort of memories you want people to have about your brand. The sort of feelings that will make them come to you, rather than your competitor — even though the functional aspects of the customer experience systems are at parity.
But surely, some might say, brand building is the role of advertising instead of CX?
Actually, no. Advertising is already one part of your CX, so they can’t be separated. But there’s a more important reason not to be over-reliant on advertising:
Brands aren’t built the way they used to be. People’s perceptions of brands are less informed and influenced by what brands say to them in the form of mass communications, and far more influenced by how brands interact with them across a far wider spectrum of touchpoints. The more unified and consistent the experience across all touchpoints, the clearer the brand image that forms in the minds of the customer.
Consistency in logo, colours and typography are just hygiene factors in this. The real source of competitive advantage is the artful weave of a consistent, differentiated and meaningful emotional experience delivered with a consistent and unique personality.
The implication of this, is that everyone who touches the design or facilitation of an organisation’s CX needs to understand and amplify the brand’s emotional benefits and personality.
CX will dominate the marketing agenda for the foreseeable future. The question will be how to get ahead of the competition and stay there. A CX built on good intelligence and emotion, will always trump one just built on good intelligence alone.
Written by Russell Turner
Strategy Director at REBORN