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Creating the ultimate Brand Experience
CloudCherry | Featured | March 26, 2016
Do you want to build a successful brand? Well, the first step to create something of value for your customers is to ‘listen’ to your customers. And by listening it does not only include what they are telling you, but also what they are communicating to you through their actions, and the most effective way of doing this is is by using a Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform.
Yes. Isn’t building a successful brand all about knowing what your customers want? And while you are already collecting a ton of customer feedback, the real question is are you taking full advantage of it? Here’s where a Customer Experience Management (CEM) system will enable you to transform raw customer data into action points that address customer painpoints. But before we venture in that direction, let’s understand what a brand really is.
If you ask someone on the street what the word ‘brand’ means, they’ll most likely tell you it’s the name of a product or a service or a business and give you examples like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Netflix, CBS and so on. Unless, of course, you’ve managed to speak to the only person on the street who has a marketing degree and twenty years of experience.
The marketer would – or should – tell you that a brand isn’t necessarily the moniker of a organization. A brand is, in fact, a perception. It’s all in the mind of your customers. So, a brand, actually, is a collection of perceptions customers have related to a product, service or business.
A Brand stands for the relationship people have with the products, services and businesses in their lives. For example, why does someone choose Coca-Cola over Pepsi? Why do they prefer McDonald’s to Burger King? Why buy a Chevy and not a Toyota? While there are certainly some functional and rational considerations involved – i.e. people will buy a Toyota even if they really want a Mercedes simply because they can’t afford the latter – much of their purchasing decision is emotional. People choose a particular brand because they believe that brand is the best reflection of themselves and it’s how they want to be perceived by those around them.
A good example is with designer clothing. Many people buy designer clothing because they want to be perceived as being well-off. You might say that it’s not true. That people buy designer clothing because it’s better quality and that the designs themselves are more attractive. Well, the fact is that most designer clothing is produced in the same factories that manufacture non-designer clothing – usually in countries like China, nowadays. Furthermore, you can often find very similar designs from lower-end brands, which are often the exact same material as designer brands, but with different labels.
In terms of the quality argument, this rarely flies nowadays because consumers simply won’t accept low quality products, so even budget brands have to offer quality products. Ergo, people buy designer clothes because of how it makes them feel about themselves and it certainly gives an indication as to how other people would perceive them – i.e. as being wealthy. Funnily enough, a study found that 84 percent of truly rich people don’t buy luxury brands, including designer clothes, and that most of the people who buy such clothes are simply those who want to appear rich, not those who necessarily are.
So, the first step to building a successful brand is realizing that your brand’s success is contingent on you building the right emotional connection with your customers. It’s hard, but not impossible.
Look at some of your favorite brands and ask yourself what makes them successful. Think of Apple, Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. These are all big brands and very successful ones. Why are they so successful? Well, they all share certain traits:
• They set themselves apart from the competition. Apple is not just another computer and cellphone manufacturer. The company has set itself apart as being a tech innovator, establishing itself as the brand of forward-thinkers, even though it’s not always the leader of the innovation pack. However, the perception exists that they are and that’s all that matters.
• They motivate customers to return. McDonald’s offers reasonable food at reasonable prices and people know they will get it quickly. Customer expectations are being met – and in some cases exceeded – which is why they will return. McDonald’s started having major problems at one point, when consumers were more focused on healthy eating and the company hadn’t caught up with the trend. They’ve started listening to their customers, which has helped McDonald’s come back from the brink of disaster.
• They are credible. All of these brands are credible in the sense that they don’t make promises they can’t keep. Volvo advertises it’s one of the safest cars on the market, and that’s exactly what they deliver.
• They are enduring, meaning that they fit market trends and adapt to maintain that fit. Fast food had become synonymous with junk food, so McDonald’s started incorporating healthier options into their menu to fit in with market trends.
• They are aligned with their company’s objectives. Apple’s goal is to be an innovator and they’ve succeeded quite well, at least over the last decade, with products such as the iPhone, the iPad, the iWatch and more. And their brand is exactly in line with those objectives.
According to Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, “…strong branding is about using a brand as a beacon, as a compass, for determining the right actions, for staying the course, for evolving a culture, for inspiring a company to reach its full potential. ”
Since your brand is a collection of perceptions, to build a strong one in that, you need to listen to your customers and get their feedback. Listening is important because it opens up the current perception customers have about your brand and how far it is from what they expect.
A brand is built upon the depth of relationship it shares with its customers. If you constantly offer them amazing experiences when interacting with your business along their journey, they will form an emotional attachment with your brand and have a higher chance of staying loyal.
The problem with many companies is that they assume they are offering their customers a great experience, when it’s not always true. And this is why collecting customer feedback is imperative, as well as a slew of other customer data.
But all this raw data needs to be turned into actionable information. In most cases, the information is spread out across departments in silos, and no one can get a complete picture of what’s going on. While you can still improve the customer experience, it’s certainly a lot harder and the improvements are tiny by comparison, which is why a good CEM system is imperative to building a successful brand.
A good CEM system allows you to centralize customer data in one place. This will offer you even greater insight into the needs and desires of your customers which will make it much easier for you to identify the areas that need improvement.
Additionally, a good CEM system will allow you to monitor your customer’s behavior. This is important because even the tiniest change in behavior can indicate a problem, allowing you to fix said issue before it becomes a wider issue.
For example, if customers are leaving your brand for competition, this might be an indicator that something is wrong with your customer experience strategy. With a CEM system, you’ll have the right set of data at your disposal and will be able to follow up on customer feedback immediately. You can then take steps to remedy the situation, because in all likelihood if the issue led to one customer’s expenditure declining or the customer leaving your brand, it could have the same effect on your other customers.
Once you’ve implemented the changes, if you see an increase in their expenditure, it can validate that you took the right action. Or, if the uptick is minimal or non-existent, it’s a good indicator that you need to do something else.
A customer experience management platform can help Brands create a personalized and delightful experience – which is exactly what customers expect nowadays, also the key to building a successful and sustainable brand. This will, in turn, lead to a significant increase in profitability, and make your investment in CEM worthwhile.