The complete customer experience (CX) is a long process, beginning from the moment when customers realize they have an unfilled need until when that need is met. But what often gets ignored is that CX relies heavily on branding. Your brand is the experience customers have when doing business with you. This includes the benefits you deliver, the promises you make, and how you follow up after delivering upon those promises. Branding sets the foundation for customers to engage with your organization, and helps define the initial experience they have with you. The brand of your organization goes beyond actual strategy and principles; it’s the persona of your organization and the emotions that customers have based on interactions with your organization.
Although customers want to have satisfying buying experiences with brands, their experiences and expectations may be very different. This is called the “customer expectation paradox.” According to the Customer Experience Zone, while customers want more from the companies and employees they do business with, they have actually come to expect less than they did before. Customers expect to be frustrated. They expect to get become bored throughout their engagements with a brand. They expect this because of the experiences they’ve had in the past, whether with your specific organization or one like yours. Customer experience strategies attack this idea of poor expectations and attempt to build emotional connections with customers by providing powerful, unique experiences throughout the entire buying journey.
Organizations that have shifted their focus to customer experience face new challenges. What can they do to make sure they’re creating the best CX?
Create a customer experience map to see the touchpoints a customer has with your brand, products, services, and people. These touchpoints begin when a potential customer researches a product or service and extend to that customer’s first contact with an organization and, hopefully, go on to the formation of loyalty and repeat transactions. Part of this exercise is constructing decision-making scenarios to better understand what influences a customer’s thought process and purchasing behavior.
This exercise will also give you a firsthand look at how potential customers feel about your brand throughout the buying experience, and will show the gaps in the desired CX versus what customers get.
Consistency is a large part of positive customer experience. For example, if you have a product or service that’s sold through multiple channels and distributors, and if those distributors don’t feature the same message or pricing, your customer may become confused or, worse, see you as untrustworthy. As a result, they may not buy from you.
Staying consistent across channels is a main priority, but so is staying consistent across multiple departments. From social media to marketing to sales to customer service, the customer should have a consistent experience. The well-thought-out branded message must be cohesive and well-defined in order for employees to relay the message to customers.
Too often, we assume we know what our customers are thinking. We build the messages and marketing collateral that potential customers interact with and we believe that our voice is getting across. But the reality is that we aren’t our customers, and organizations should begin to see customer experience as a relationship of give and take, of an exchange of information and feedback. Through this constant connection, and use of content and messaging that resonates with your customers, they will become more engaged and, we hope, loyal.
While technology and channels have given customers an array of touchpoints to organizations, it has also left organizations vulnerable if they fail to listen and learn from the customer.