The brand is what remains when the experience has failed. In other words: when the customer doesn’t experience anything, we try to force ourselves on him inappropriately. In 2016, your brand allows you to survive but doesn’t measure up against the heavyweights of experience.
A brand which isn’t an experience will become a convenience, a consolation prize, unable to retain a customer.
But the notion of experience is too hackneyed. For many, experience isn’t more than a “wow” effect, a one shot to create buzz. Most often on the web because it is cheaper to shine there than in the physical world. Communication doesn’t replace the product and can’t be the Vaseline that allows to pass a failed product or a deplorable service on.
Experience isn’t a large fireworks but more of a sparks concert that will punctuate the customer experience at every touch point. The concept of touch point is essential: for the customer, the journey is unique, indivisible. On the contrary, every touch point has its owner depending on the stage of the journey, and the customer knowledge that lets you customize the experience is fragmented in these silos.
While each actor in the company make sure to mark out its power zone by slicing up both the customer and the experience, it can be very difficult for the latter to see his journey turned into an obstacle course (not to mention to be considered foolish). Internal silos create friction along its path and prevent to know the customer completely, even though he considers himself as a “market of one” and wants to be recognized as a unique individual. Each point of friction is a chance of losing the customer, and a good experience should aim to eliminate friction.
Journey and touch points must then be managed consistently:
- For an efficient acquisition and retention strategy. The experience creates the preference, the preference turns your customers into ambassadors and make them loyal. Experience leaders (Apple, Amazon etc) have minimal marketing costs compared to their competitors, and yet their customers are the most loyal and engaged. A good “end to end” experience isn’t a cost but an investment with a high ROI. When 51% of customers who leave a brand do so because of a bad experience, each touch point is crucial. On the contrary, poor or incoherent experience creates a debt: it is then necessary to constantly recreate affection, to recapture the customer without being able to capitalize on the past.
- For the store to no longer be the poor relation of the digital, where all online efforts are destroyed.
-To effectively manage communication and marketing in a world where the image of a company isn’t what it is showing, but what is said about it, namely the gap between the promise and the experience. Hence the need for consistency across the customer journey.
- To better manage the pressure. Every touch point is an opportunity to re-engage with the customer but if everyone puts on themselves maximum pressure on their touch point, we then obtain a worn out and terrorized customer who dreams only of one thing: escaping!
-To think about the overall experience as soon as the product is designed, in order for it to be both the object and the vehicle of this experience. It is better to enhance a successful product, conceived following an “experience by design” logic, rather than papering over the cracks later with communication.
-To empower employees, because they are part of this experience. They won’t make the customer live something that they weren’t trained or equipped to give, that is only a concept because they do not experience it themselves internally. No employee experience, no customer experience.
In order to obtain real economic value from the experience, a company has make everybody working together: the product team, marketing, services, R & D, IT, HR. This is the difference between building and appearance, and today the challenge is to build. Let everyone create its own wow effect in a corner, and the customer will quickly feel like he has been tricked.
A successful experience requires more than creative genius: it is the result of a real cooperation and of a new way of working together around the customer. There’s a good reason we now see Chief Experience Officer appearing. Unlike the Chief Digital Officer, his job is to manage value, to develop and promote emotional capital to the customer, to give meaning to the setting in motion of the company. He is the owner of the only playground able to make people play as a team and to break internal walls.
In short, if you aren’t an experience, soon you won’t be a brand anymore, and your acquisition strategy will be summed up in one word: chance.