In a crowded and distracted marketplace, businesses are becoming increasingly focused on creating compelling and consistent experiences that attract customers and shape favorable brand impressions. These experiences enable brands to tell their stories, differentiate from competitors and build emotional connections to customers, which will create immediate and future sales opportunities and long-term growth of brands.
Although I am using the term customer, this term also includes what some organizations might call consumers, members, clients, patients, etc. A customer is anyone who is participating with your services or has the possibility to participate with your services.
Customer Have Expectations of What They Think a Brand is Promising
Before any useful work on a customer experience begins, it’s critical for the organization and the development team to be abundantly clear on the brand promise of the organization. The brand promise is quite simply the expectation of the customer as it relates to your organization’s products or services. Some organizations make the brand promise very clear and overt while others are less direct about expressing the promise. However, it’s important to remember that every customer has an expectation about what they think your organization is promising them. The closer this expectation can be to the actual commitment of the company, the more effective you will be in crafting an effective customer experience.
If the concept of brand is defined as the customer’s gut feeling about a product or service, then that gut feeling is shaped by experiences. The goal is to surprise and delight customers in ways that build positive experiences via positive emotion. That gut feeling from positive experiences is at the heart of the brand itself.
Positive Experiences Contribute to Long-Term Relationships
Positive brand experiences feed future purchases and rich long-term relationships. Add to this the exponential power of a satisfied customer who shares their experience with family and friends, or better yet, increasingly large social media communities.
When adding up the value from a positive customer experience, it’s easy to extrapolate the dramatic downside of a negative experience. This can include loss of opportunity from the initial sale or a much smaller sale than might have otherwise occurred. Lack of connection to a brand may get in the way of future sales, and stories about negative experiences can easily be shared multiple times with increasingly larger audiences.
All of this explains why many businesses that may have previously disregarded the importance of the customer experience that truly delivers the brand promise are now hyper focused on getting it right at every touchpoint. They are considering new and innovative ways to leverage that special window of time to build deep, meaningful and emotional experiences that translate into strong brand connections.
Designing a customer experience requires a carefully considered strategy that examines the current experience, identifies gaps and opportunities, and uses the brand promise as a lens to ensure customer expectations are met and exceeded.
For a more in-depth look at designing the customer experience, be sure to download our position paper: