The days of the “sell and forget” relationship between customers and brands is long gone. Most brands now aim for having exceptional customer service and continuous customer engagement. Brand loyalty is more crucial than ever due to the internet and social media influencing the acceleration of the “full brand experience” approach. Brands positioned with customer-first, always-on experience optimization approach and build for personalization are becoming market leaders.
The question is – how can brands achieve this? There is a common misconception that becoming an experience-focused brand is a difficult process. In reality, it is simple and just requires you to listen and observe your current customers.
What Is Brand Experience?
Brand experience is a marketing function that integrates a comprehensive collection of interactions to elicit emotions and feelings from consumers. It shapes the way consumers feel toward a product or business, helps build consumer awareness, and can even create brand-loyalty. An experienced-focused brand has a strategy to continuously deliver positive and meaningful experience throughout every interaction. With every product, service, and process designed, customer experience is at the fore-front of decision making.
How to Become an Experience-Focused Brand:
Marketing strategies should never be developed without a target audience or first gaining consumer insight. Customer feedback is essential when it comes to designing an experience catered to them. To get started, determine who is your current audience. It’s helpful to use data sources if possible, such as google analytics, databases, prior research, etc. Find out what your audience likes, what they dislike, their spending habits, what they’re motivated by, or any other important psychographics relevant to your brand. It’s also important to look at loyal customers separately to see if there are any drastic differences between them and average consumers.
Create a Customer Journey Map
After your audience has been identified the next step is to build out a customer journey map. Some marketers believe this step is not necessary, but a customer journey map can be a very valuable tool. Breaking down the customer journey phase by phase, aligning each step with a goal, and restructuring your touchpoints accordingly are essential steps towards maximizing customer success. Everything a company does essentially revolves around solving customer problems and helping them achieve long-term success with your product or service.
Creating an ideal customer journey map generally has six steps
- Determine a clear objective for the map. What are its goals, who is it for, and what is the experience based upon? It may be beneficial to create a buyer persona based on this and the demographics and psychographics that represent your average consumer.
- Perform customer research. Anyway that you can gain feedback from real customers or prospects works. The most important aspect is that you only reach out to those that have or would seriously be interested in purchasing your products or services.
- List out all the touch points where customers can interact with you. This can be directly through your website or outside sources, such as social channels, paid ads, emails, or third party links. It helps to also list out all the action, emotions, motivations, obstacles, and pain points customers experience throughout their interaction with your brand.
- Choose the type of customer journey map you want to create. This is based on the elements you want your map to show. The most common types include current state, a day in the life, future state, and service blueprint.
- Take the customer journey yourself and analyze the results. You should follow the map through each customer persona that was created. Analyzation is where you can discover where customer needs aren’t being met, as well as solutions to other problems they might face.
- Make necessary changes based on the data gathered.
While thinking thoroughly from the customer’s perspective and about their journey is important, measuring their experiences from direct interactions is even more effective. The key is to make sure you’re using the right customer experience metric at the right point in the customer journey. A common mistake made by companies is only using one kind of metric for every step in the customer journey. Most customers have different experiences and needs at different stages in the process, which is why a single metric can be ineffective and problematic. There are a variety of customer experience metrics, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES). It’s also important to ask for feedback at the proper time, through the customer’s preferred channel. The average consumer does not want to spend extensive time giving companies feedback, meaning the measurement process should be as short and easy as possible.
Build the Ideal Experience and Start Putting it into Action
With all the prior steps completed there should be a solid foundation to build a high quality experience directly based on consumer insights. It’s beneficial to perform multiple audits of data and technology throughout the building process. This helps support the automation of personalized, people-based experiences. Aligning stakeholders across the organization is another important element to driving change. Data-driven approaches that prioritize and emphasize customer perspective is extremely valuable when you run into any political or organizational roadblocks. In the beginning it’s beneficial to prioritize quick wins. This way you’re still making progress while laying out critical interactions that take more time, effort, and long-term planning.
After the ideal customer experience has been built it’s time to test it. Some brands only measure and test their customer experience if it’s new or has been changed recently. Brands that are truly going for being experience-focused should track and measure experience continuously and make regular updates and improvements based on that data and feedback. Brand behavior is more important to consumers today than ever. That means brands have to be prepared to change their behavior when necessary. It’s all about personalization, relevance, and engagement with consumers.