When you walk into a Safeway grocery store and are invited to use a custom shopping app to enjoy extra savings at the checkout line, and are then personally handed the receipt as the clerk says “Mr. Kennedy, you saved twenty three dollars and fifteen cents on this visit,” you are experiencing a signature customer experience.
When you check into your Hyatt hotel room and find a personalized note, your favorite brand of sparkling water and a small dish of chocolates, you are experiencing a signature customer experience.
When you visit a Sunglass Hut and are invited to try on any pair as the sales associate personally polishes the pair you select before handing it to you, you are experiencing a signature customer experience.
Experiences Deliver the Brand Promise
Businesses of all types are focusing on designing and implementing signature customer experiences. You might hear them referred to by other names, such as service models or branded experiences, but the goal is usually the same. To define a customer experience that is specific to the brand with the goal of highlighting the unique positioning of that brand, while driving improved short and long term sales results.
Signature customer experiences can be as varied as the brands they represent. Some models are subtle and might include elements like a consistent phrase used to greet customers in a retail store, or specific language used to guide customers to related products they might be interested in purchasing at the end of a call to place an order.
Some are grand and theatrical. Years ago, after purchasing a new car, I had my picture taken in front of my new wheels with the team of sales people celebrating the purchase in the background. Moments later, I was presented a copy of the photo, now encased in a frame complete with signatures from the sales team, while another print was placed on a long wall of similar photos showing customers at their moment of purchase.
It’s not just consumer products and services that are seeing the value of the signature customer experience. Many business-to-business companies have started bringing a level of flare to the purchase experience. It might be as simple as a follow-up call after the order to confirm satisfaction, or a set of unique buying steps that are each supported by a signature element. Perhaps it’s an invitation to an exclusive party at an industry trade event or a grand tour of the company’s headquarters.
The signature experience has always been part of business for the large customer. Many companies regularly treat preferred buyers to mini vacations in exotic locales as an element of customer appreciation. Some of these events are legendary and customers clamor for invitations.
An Opportunity to Shape a Brand Impression
The increase in the use of a signature experience is not surprising. As the competition for mind-space with consumers becomes increasingly difficult due to the vast amount of distractions in our world, it becomes very smart business to optimize the moments when you have the undivided attention of potential customers. The fact that they are in your store, calling your call center, or attending your event gives you the golden opportunity that marketers crave. It puts you in control, perhaps for just a moment, and gives you an opportunity to create a brand impression that can last for decades.
In an upcoming post we will look at the short term sales benefits of the signature experience as well as the experience through the eyes of the customer.
If you have examples of signature experiences that you love we invite you to share them here. I would also love to hear from anyone who has been involved in crafting a signature experience. What were your challenges? How did you address them? What has been the impact of the signature experience on your business?