16 Ways to Improve the Brand Experience
In the last post, I provided a formula to increase brand equity:
Brand Equity increases when
Brand Experience = Brand Promise
- Improved customer satisfaction.
- Reduced customer churn.
- Drives customer loyalty.
- Better customer retention.
- Creates competitive advantage.
But bad things happen when the brand experience does not match the brand promise. In such cases, either the brand promise or the brand experience needs to change.
Changing the brand promise is a strategic issue that is (generally) the responsibility of marketing. As addressed in the last post, the brand promise is developed by identifying and defining what is unique, relevant, and sustainable.
- People. Do all employees know what’s expected of them in order to deliver on the brand promise? Do they understand what’s unique to the organization and separates it from competitors?
- Processes. Is the focus on single events and individual touch-points, or the whole brand journey? Are there standard practices that are easily repeatable and that deliver consistent outcomes?
- Politics. Which objectives are causing competing priorities? What are the unresolved issues causing conflict between people or teams? Whose egos have been bruised? (This particularly applies to department heads and managers)
One way to address all of these questions and issues – and often improve the brand experience – is by clearly defining a few key values (remember the magic of three).
What are the top differentiating values that MUST be delivered in every customer encounter and brand experience?
Clearly defined values inform both customers and staff of what’s most important, and the way things are done. These values also create a uniform platform to measure the brand experience.
Another way to change – or improve – the brand experience is by employing a set of disciplines. Here are a few for consideration.
16 Ways to Improve the Brand Experience
- Hire the right people. Every employee needs to believe in the brand and what it stands for. (Ideally, hire those who exemplify your differentiating values)
- Empower your people: Give front-line employees the power and authority to solve customer problems.
- Be real, not perfect. When problems are highlighted by customers, show you’re listening and fix them – from spelling mistakes on the website, to pricing errors, to out-of-stock issues. To err is human. To fix it quickly is delightful.
- Encourage “one and done”. Engage all of the right people quickly and find solutions fast. It’s not only efficient; it’s more effective too.
- Make the customer the hero. When communicating with customers, treat them with immense respect, just as you would any hero.
- Create a good first impression. Just because a company is extremely good at something doesn’t mean that potential customers can see it. Start with something positive.
- Monitor all touch points to ensure consistency. From answering the phone, to various places customers are received, to how the team follows up on unpaid invoices. Make sure they all represent the brand experience.
- Establish regular listening posts. Encourage management (at all levels) to engage with customers on a regular basis (e.g. weekly). They should seek out what’s working well, what’s not, and why customers still buy from competitors.
- Assess the brand story. How well you tell your story will determine how well your customers tell your story.
- Think lifetime value. Digging deeper into current customer challenges can unlock doors to future opportunities to add further value (and revenue).
- Be holistic. Move beyond channel based strategies, towards more holistic multi-channel customer experience strategies.
- Focus on the solution. When a problem occurs, forget about determining whose fault it is. Find a solution.
- Team-based value propositions. Define and deliver value propositions by focusing the entire company on delivering them, emphasizing cross-functional collaboration.
- Use technology to enhance the experience, not create it. Don’t craft your brand experience strategy around technology. Find technology that you can use around your strategy.
- Test for thin ice. Be clear on the difference between a brand that just looks good and a brand that can deliver what it promises.
- Prepare for the (eventual) brand refresh. At some point a new leader will want to refresh the brand, or maybe competitive pressures will call for it. Regardless of the reason, when refreshing the brand, be sure to preserve the legacy of the brand experience that matters to customers.
Here’s the thing about the brand experience: it’s never stationary. It’s always in need of adjustment – somewhere, at some point. But when you use these disciplines to adjust and improve the brand experience to match the brand promise, your brand equity will increase.
What are other ways to improve the brand experience?