January 07, 2020

by Nigel Hollis

In this post, I suggested that all sorts of occurrences could trigger people’s impression of a brand. However, some occurrences have far more influence than others. Interaction with a brand, checking it our prior to purchase or using it once chosen will confirm or deny initial impressions.

As I have noted elsewhere, a great experience is the foundation upon which future growth is built. Every user that decides to repeat their experience of the brand is one less acquisition that is required in order to grow. With that in mind, there are two tasks that a brand must achieve in order to encourage people to stick with the brand: minimize expectation gap and strengthen positive associations over time.

The good news is that when people first start using a brand, provided they had positive associations that encouraged them to choose it, they will likely look to confirm that they made a good choice. Positive experiences will be taken as evidence they made a good choice, but negative ones will be discounted. However, this state may not last. Repeated negative experiences which do not fit with expectations will eventually undermine people’s positive disposition.

Kantar’s CX+ demonstrates that many brands fail to match up to people’s expectations. Maybe those expectations were unrealistic and unfounded in the first place, but all too often the brand’s marketing creates an unrealistic set of expectations which evaporate in the face of reality. The problem is that the sale has been made, the negative repercussions are only observed later when dissatisfied customers place an undue burden on the customer service team or simply write the brand off and find a new one.

However, encouraging people to stick with your brand requires more than minimizing the expectation gap; it requires doing every possible to strengthen people’s positive associations and develop new ones. The best way to do that is to please and surprise your users. For service brands that might simply be a matter of resolving a customer’s problem quickly and easily. For a packaged goods brand that might require creating and additional experience around the brand.

Actively shaping a customer’s engagement to be more positive is going to have the most obvious impact on someone’s predisposition toward a brand, but memories fade. Last year’s great experience may be long forgotten by the time someone needs to renew their contract or buy again. Access to a good CRM system might provide the opportunity to remind people of their positive experience by acknowledging the problem and asking for the opportunity to serve them better in future. But failing that, remember that your current buyers and customers still get exposed to all your advertising. Focusing attention on the positive experience your brand can offer not only attracts new buyers, it can reinforce the positive perceptions of your existing ones too, provided it is consonant with their own experience.

By focusing on how their brand does a better job or serves them well marketers can help to confirm to existing users that they made the right choice, encouraging them to choose the same brand again. How else might a brand build up the predisposition to choose it again?


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