There is a burning desire to meet the needs of customers and develop experiences that are entirely customer oriented. And rightly so. In today’s world, they are in complete control – brands that don’t listen or adapt to this shift stand little chance of survival.
However, business success comes down to a lot more than listening to the demands of the customer. Whilst we must meet the demand of fast, agile experiences that continuously evolve and improve, we also have to be sure that we deliver an empirical return – not just customer satisfaction.
In other words, brands must be able to pat their head and rub their tummy at the same time.
And this is where the Brand Alignment Approach comes in; a five stage approach to customer experience development.
Aligning is the third stage; the moment things really start shifting and moving into place
Whilst the Exploring stage ignites the pressure for change, and builds a strong business case, and the Visioning stage illuminates the direction of the business and its ambition, Aligning brings it all to life throughout the experience…
After all, to make a meaningful impact in your market and differentiate your brand, you simply must align the needs of the customer and the business.
Aligning determines what needs to be done, making powerful headway with the brand and its customers. It ensures that you are doing the right things, at the right time, with the right people – all supported by the right process.
Through Aligning you enrich the high level map you’ve already created with detail and specific actions . It makes it all real.
So how do you do it?
How can you align the needs of the customer and the business?
The sweet spot
For this stage to be as powerful as it can be, it must be fueled by the people in the business. You need to bring together the right people, at the right level…
Too high up and they are too far removed from the customer and employee experience. Too front line and they focus on their own areas rather than the end-to-end experience.
This entire approach is about balancing the needs of the customer with the needs of the business, and keeping the cost of improving at the heart of everything you do. This is the customer experience and business sweet spot.
Without this balance, the Brand Alignment programme will fail. It won’t meet the needs of the customer, and won’t deliver the financial benefit to the business.
Be real. Be honest. Base everything you do on fact, not fluff.
You can add things to your experiences that will delight customers, but if the costs can’t be justified, there’s little to no value for your business.
No matter what you do, you should be able to confidently answer:
Why are we doing this?
What value is it adding to the business?
What value is it adding to the customer?
See beyond the subjective opinions and look to the empirical data that illuminates the current situation, no matter how ugly that might be. Then, and only then, will you be able to execute a customer experience that is irresistible to both customers and the business.
Popping your cherry
To enrich the envisioned customer experience map, you must assemble the best brains across the business. Every department is responsible for building or destroying your brand - so they have a right and a duty to be a part of the planning.
And this is what makes Aligning one of the most exciting moments of the whole journey. It brings people from across the whole business together - often for the first time!
Everyone gets to see and imagine the customer journey - the experience customers currently have and the new concept too. This can be a truly transformational moment for the business.
Making it happen
Now you have established the platform, you can start constructing a well-articulated, strategic plan to deliver the envisioned customer experience.
At this stage you have the foundational elements needed:
The evidence and data that presents a holistic and bigger picture view of the business including the balance between the customer and business needs. It also highlights the areas of the customer experience that keep the brand and the numbers burning.
The brand vision that encapsulates the position the brand seeks, and informs what you should and should not do.
The brand values that drive brand behaviours, the brand personality that influences how we apply brand values to each action, and the brand essence as a distillation of the brand you seek to build. This is the lens through which you should build the CX.
Working with the right people from the top team, shaped by the brand vision and informed through the outputs of the Exploring stage, you now have the envisioned CX.
But more on this in our next post.