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Seven Philosophies for Building Great Brand Experiences

Extracted from the book "Building Great Customer Experiences" by U.K. authors and brand experience gurus Colin Shaw and John Ivens.

Philosophy One:
Great Customer Experiences as a source of long-term competitive advantage.

Great Customer Experiences create an emotional attachment to a company, and once that emotional bond is created it is difficult to break, and thus can become a long term differentiator.

Philosophy Two:
Great Customer Experiences are created by consistently exceeding Customers physical & emotional expectations

People talk a lot about exceeding Customer expectations and yet in reality many companies don't really know what their Customers' physical and emotional expectations are at each moment of contact. Do you know what your Customer expectations are when they call your center? When they first meet your sales people? We list below just some moments of contact companies have evolved. If you don't know, how can you manage their expectation. Furthermore, how can you possibly expect to exceed something you are not aware of? We advocate the breaking down of the Customer Experience into its constituent parts.

Philosophy Three:
Great Customer Experiences are differentiated by focussing on stimulating planned emotions.

What is the emotion you are trying to evoke in your customers? Do you know? If not, why not? Emotions are the driving force behind all human behaviour. The famous Vice President of Marketing for IBM, Buck Rodgers said: "People buy emotionally and then justify with logic".

The reality is that most organisations leave the emotions they are evoking purely to chance. Yet, they would never dream of leaving the delivery of a product to chance!

Philosophy Four:
Great Customer Experiences are enabled through inspirational leadership, an empowering culture and empathetic people who are happy and fulfilled.

We all know that happy people (employees) give you happy Customers. Yet poor management and leadership are ensuring that too many front line people are unhappy and unfulfilled - thus causing unhappy customers. To build a great customer experience you need to employ people who are happy and fulfilled. You should also employ people who are naturally good at evoking the emotion you are trying to deliver. For example if you have selected trust as the emotion you want to evoke in your customers, then you need to employ people who naturally good at evoking feelings of trust. "Emotional Intelligence" has been used very successfully in the recruitment of people to generate the emotions the company is trying to evoke.

Your company's culture will also impact the Customer Experience. If you live in a "blame culture" your people will do everything by the book and will not take a risk for Customers. Thus, when a customer wants them to do something that is "sensible" but outside the policy they say no. Your Culture affects your Customer Experience and can be measured and aligned.

Philosophy Five:
Great Customer Experiences are designed "Outside In" rather than "Inside Out".

Despite the rhetoric of Customer Centricity, in the main, companies are still internally focussed. This manifests itself in what we call "inside out" organisation, processes, systems and attitudes. "Inside Out" defines that a company is more concerned about what is good for them rather than good for the Customer. We propose "Outside In" is the correct approach. "Outside In" companies build their systems and process around what is good for the customer.

Companies are spending millions of dollars on CRM and yet how are they going to improve the Customer Experience if the Customer Experience hasn't been defined? An inside out approach is imperative to success. True customer centric organisations define their Customer Experience and then shape their systems and processes around them.

Philosphy Six:
Great Customer Experiences are revenue generating and can significantly reduce costs.

From practical knowledge and experience of implementing large change programmes and constructing many business cases, it can be proven that improving your Customer Experience can invariably save you costs. In one illustrative case the company

  • increased Customer satisfaction with agents by 36%,
  • increased customer facing time by 200% and
  • saved 17% of costs.

Experience shows that too many people believe that improving the Customer Experience will cost money. In many cases it can save money. Her is one simple example - Customer complaints. All the research shows that if you deal with customer complaints at the first point of contact it is cheaper and improves satisfaction.

Philosophy Seven:
Great Customer Experiences are an embodiment of the brand.

What is a brand? It's a perception, a view, an opinion. How is that perception built up? By many sources, not least of which is advertising, the way a company behaves and the Customer Experience people enjoy. Your brand makes a promise of what you are going to do. In our experience there is a massive gap between the people who manage the brand in a company and the people involved in the practical delivery of the everyday Customer Experience. Again challenge yourself, do you know what your brand values and brand personality are? Do you know how they manifest themselves in your Customer Experience? If you don't how are you delivering that promise?

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