Now, more than ever, customer experience makes or breaks brands. In our smartphone era customers’ praise or complaints are amplified. Who remembers the United Airlines brand crisis, in which $1.4 billion in value was wiped out overnight when a passenger’s bad experience went viral on social media? To grow value, brands have no choice but to deliver a great experience.
Today what people want (and therefore on what they are spending more of their money) are memorable moments, so marketers must find ways to turn goods into experiences, and to find new sources of value to meet growing experiential-driven competition. The formula is simple: the better the experience, the more value commanded by a brand. A 10-year longitudinal analysis of BrandZ data confirms that brands high in Experience Capital outperformed the market by up to 188 percent, while brands with low Experience Capital declined in value.
In many ways the importance of experience now dwarfs everything else. Experience is the real moment of truth, the one that confirms or denies the expectations created by prior contact with the brand, and yet we also know that many brands are failing to deliver consistent, relevant experiences in this complex new world. According to Kantar’s Connected Life survey, 33 percent of consumers globally report an inconsistent quality of experience across online and offline touchpoints.
Five success factors can help brands put the customer first and deliver a consistent brand experience across all touch points:
- A clearly articulated and understood brand promise
- Empowered employees who are able to provide proactive, responsive and empathetic service
- Empowered customers free to ‘do it their way’ through frictionless and relevant digital and omnichannel excellence.
- The creation of lasting memories and positive emotional moments throughout the customer journey
- The exceptional delivery of experiences that reinforce the brand choice and therefore generate loyalty, advocacy and greater customer lifetime value.
This recipe for success has massive implications for businesses around the world: they must create a holistic customer perspective through a seamless alignment of customer experience and brand strategy departments who can therefore no longer sit in organisational silos. Going forward, senior leadership has a critical role in helping an organisation to make this change, ensuring that the processes which support each stage of the customer journey are designed and managed holistically by interdependent teams.
Richard Branson is a fantastic example of a leader who lives and breathes true customer-centricity: He’s always underlined how obsessed he is with giving customers a great experience whenever they interact with Virgin. An obsession that transcends any form of hierarchy where every employee is empowered in their own way to create experiences for customers. He states,
“Strive to create a different and better experience to everyone else. Never rest on your laurels.”
So, if a great customer experience truly starts at the top, why do so many business leaders seem to ignore it? Please share your thoughts.