Winning the brand treble - reducing cost, improving the customers’ experience and building the brand

Andrew S - 2 nd November 2017

As Bob Dylan had it “there is nothing so stable as change” and if you work in the world of brands, customer experience and marketing, the one thing you can be sure of is that change is just about all you have got to hang on to!

To say that the whole industry is in a state of transformation is the understatement of the century, and it has never been more important to be able to balance the big macro issues with the more granular day-to-day delivery of your customer experience.

Looking at the big stuff can and does make your eyes water. As brand owners, how do we find solutions that we can afford to the big questions of:

  • How to respond to the fundamental change in consumers relationships with brands?

  • How to respond to the loss of trust felt towards many of the channels they seek to use?

  • How to draw all of the “new toys” together to make sense of what is happening?

  • How to get one clear view of customers, who they are and what motivates them?

  • How to invest in big data at a time when business confidence is not at its most robust?

  • How to transform from a legacy role as brand guardians and managers to inspirational leaders and coordinators of the whole company-wide activity that customer experience delivery demands?

Within all these massive and often bewildering changes it is easy to lose sight of some fundamental opportunities businesses have for creating a unique triple whammy. The outcome of which can improve their customers’ experience, drive greater brand loyalty and reduce costs as a part of a single initiative.

It might sound like the nirvana scenario, but it can and should be happening now. We have to work out the big picture stuff and we have an urgent need to deliver brand-driven customer experience improvement. In other words, we all need to be able to do the business equivalent of patting our heads and rubbing our tummies at the same time; we have no choice.

Our experience tells us that delivering improved service at all the omnichannel touchpoints is vitally important and a basic customer expectation. Delivering the experience in a uniquely branded way, with the brand values running through the CX at the key moments, is massively more compelling.

The key to achieving this is to begin by finding where the business is leaking time and money throughout its delivery processes. It is these processes that directly impact on both the customer experience and that of their own internal teams. Those teams who are often struggling through overly complex processes in order to deliver the brand promise for you.

With waste comes friction, and with friction comes customer churn, negative reports into the social media environment and competitors swooping in to take your customers, who willingly move to an easier solution. In their words, this lack of remedial action acts as a great new business tool for your competitors.

For most businesses, this is something that needs sorting out and it needs doing quickly.

You can’t deliver HOT CX if the experience enablers look like a bowl of spaghetti! Not only that, your teams at the front of house will be spending inordinate amounts of time working round the issues that mess creates as they try their best to deliver the brand promise you make to your customers.

Even worse than that, all that amazing UX design you have paid for goes out of the window when the digital and physical elements of the experience meet.

There is no time like the present to:

  • stop adding friction to your customer experience

  • start thinking ‘HOT CX’

  • continue to look for ways you can improve the customer experience

What will a good outcome look like?

  • Customers will be propelled through their touchpoints with an increasingly positive reaction to how they are made to feel, with an ever-increasing sense of a frictionless experience

  • Staff will see that you have not only listened to but have acted on their advice, removed hassle for them and are letting them get on with what they should be doing – inspiring customers

  • You will have removed cost, waste and time from your CX delivery process

  • The improvements will be based on empirical evidence and a business case for improvement to allow the business to make investment decisions based on the return it will deliver – no fluffiness here

What happens if you do nothing? (which is always an option)

  • You knowingly prevent your customers getting what they want, and what you have promised to them

  • You continue to present a deaf ear to your own talent and ignore their knowledge, insight and desire to improve your business

  • You increase the level of complaints (if your customers can be bothered to give you that valuable feedback – normally they will just go away)

  • The maintenance of friction for customers will open the doors for better organised competitors (they don’t even have to be disruptors, just better organised!)  as they will be easier to do business with

So how should you approach getting the treble?

To really get the results the business needs, now is the time to roll your sleeves up and get stuck into the cogs and wheels of the business. Get away from the fluff and get amongst the muck and the bullets, as my father used to say.

Start with getting the right team together; people engaged in the delivery of the customer experience across all touch points and with sponsorship from the very top.

To make robust and rigorous progress, we use a 5-stage approach to deliver a return to the business on a brand-driven customer experience improvement.

  1. Gather insights about the emotional and rational pain points from customers, getting close to them throughout their journey in the digital and physical worlds. Reinforce this with the insights from your teams, who directly deal with the customers both front and back of house.

  2. Using this insight revisit your Customer Journey Map and refresh it with this new emotional and rational perspective but don’t stop there. Populate this map with an overlay of the processes that enable and power the way your CX is delivered.

  3. You will now be in a position to identify where you are wasting money, leaking time and creating friction for both you customers and your business.

  4. Once you have identified your leaks, get down and dirty to find the real - not perceived - root causes of the issues, so that the team can build the right solution for the business and the brand.

  5. Now build the business case for nailing your HOT CX for once and for all. Develop the prioritised transformational map that guides all activity, put some high-speed pilot schemes in place to prove the business case and returns, and get hooked on iteration and continuous brand-driven customer experience improvement.

We all have measurement tools coming out of our ears so choosing the right ones to support the business is key and these will be a combination of customer behaviour measures and business KPIs. Only you will know which ones will drive change in your business.

The one thing we know for sure is that once you get the flywheel turning, as Jim Collins has it in Good to Great, it becomes a lot easier to show the business the real value and return that HOT CX can bring to your brand, your people, your customers and, most importantly, your business.

Andrew is the CEO and the other founding partner of Brand Vista. With over 30 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side, what gets him up every morning is a passion for helping clients grow through building genuinely differentiated brands that deliver a customer experience that becomes irresistible.
Find out more about Andrew S