Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional magic moment but as we all know, they come to nothing if the basics aren’t delivered well. Therein lies the real brand pitfall of creating unfulfilled expectation, in my mind one of the most corrosive impacts on brand loyalty and satisfaction.
It is disappointing to see so much energy and effort going into the creation of amazing customer experiences which are fatally flawed by the lack of the basics being done well, let alone brilliantly.
Far from falling in love with the brand as it delivers these magic moments, we are left frustrated and confused having been let down by the brand that has taken us to the altar of transaction and then just not shown up.
The brands that are evident, interesting and engaging everywhere during the customer experience, making sure our needs are met and occasionally exceeded, are the ones that we bond with. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” The same sentiment can be applied to great brands that build great a customer experience – they don’t talk about it, they just get on and do it consistently and naturally because everyone knows what to do and how to behave.
It is a whole business thing, capable of being replicated everywhere and built into process as well as embedded within the people and operations of the business, not just its marketing.
A few years ago I swore that I would never cross the Ryanair threshold again after a shocking experience and I had been true to my word until the other weekend. We were flying to Murcia with a chum who had suffered terrible head injuries in an accident 6 years ago and this was to be his first trip abroad. The problem for me was we had to fly Ryanair.
So with conflicting emotions and a sense of trepidation we arrived at the airport. We have all read about their charm offensive and I must admit that the business results are hard to argue with at a rational level but I needed to balance these with my first-hand experience I had years before. This trip was either going to make or break my brand relationship.
I have to say that I didn’t expect a super friendly, butler style service - just one that worked. Most importantly, they had dropped the confrontational approach to treating consumers like idiots.
The journey I experienced took me through a very efficient website, an end to end travel experience that worked well at a functional level (yes it was a bit cramped on the plane but that comes with small fares) that landed me on time, in the right place and all my baggage with me. They did the basics brilliantly and that was what I had paid for. They had aligned the experience to their brand with great clarity and improved the outcomes for at least one customer… me.
The most impressive thing for me, is that they have resisted the temptation to go overboard with expensive and probably ineffective luvviness built into the experience, which would have been so off brand to be believable. I never thought I would say it but well done Michael O’Leary and all of the people of Ryanair, a beautifully aligned brand delivered through its customer experience. It is nice to see that this improvement has worked its way all the way through to the balance sheet. It’s a funny old world really that says, get the customer experience right and more people give you money!