Have you ever been excited about a product, only to visit the store or go online and end up walking away no longer interested? It’s happened to me many times. Usually, it’s because there was a disconnect in what the brand claimed it stood for and the experience I was provided.
With so many products and services available today, it’s critical your brand provides an experience that accurately reflects who you are and what makes you different. The good news is it doesn’t need to be perfect, but it must be consistent.
Companies can invest in great marketing and amazing products, but if the brand experience is lacking, they are wasting energy and resources. There are 10 key questions I ask when helping clients improve their brand experience:
1.) Do you have one defined experience? Or do you have two, three, maybe 800 of them? If your sales channel has 800 salespeople and no defined experience, your customers have hundreds of experiences with varying quality, no consistency. It’s impossible to please anyone (customers, dealers and employees) in that predicament.
2.) Is your experience authentic? If a company’s slogan is the “Friendly Car Company” and yet they “stick it” to customers because there’s an incentive to sell at any cost, it’s obvious the brand is disingenuous. Customers pay attention to how they’re treated. Words must match actions.
3.) Is your sales channel dedicated or are they “dualed?” Is yours the only product in its category the dealers sell or do they sell your competitors’ products as well? Dealers dedicated to your brand only will likely support you in offering a powerful brand experience.
4.) Does your relationship with the sales channel reflect the one you desire them to have with customers? When helping a European auto brand relaunch in the U.S., it was crucial to ensure the brand’s leadership was providing the same premium experience to dealers that they wanted their customers to receive. Only then could the launch succeed.
5.) Do you “live” the brand and affiliate with the customer? A few, very amazing brands really “are” customers. Their leaders and employees love the product, use the product, experiment with it and hang out with customers. They transmit this love to the sales channel and it becomes part of the experience.
6.) Is customer loyalty rewarded? You might think of the airline rewards when you think of retention programs, but is it really loyalty if they’re bribing people with points and free products? With many customers, merely being acknowledged, thanked and confided in are enough for them to stay with you.
7.) Are employees empowered to solve problems? Your front line will usually know far better how to help the customer than anyone else. The best brands promote an internal strategy where employees solve problems immediately. You will dramatically improve both customer loyalty and employee retention by doing this.
8.) Does your marketing or sales technology help or hinder the experience? Whether it’s your website, your customer email or help lines, if they represent one more arduous task to deal with when there’s an issue, you’re in a battle to keep customers. Technology should not be in place purely to make it easier or cheaper for you (although that’s smart too). It should also assist the customer.
9.) How accessible is leadership? What if there’s a customer issue or an opportunity that is extraordinary? Are your leaders available to jump in immediately if needed? You can solve issues if the customer knows you care. If the leader is never available to discuss a situation, that’s a statement.
10.) Is your customer experience your differentiator? There are rare brands that offer an experience that is their differentiation. Amazon is a great example. But so is AEV Ambulance. AEV’s customers use words such as “love” and “God bless them” when describing them. That explains why they have the largest market share in their industry.
Map out your customer journey, identify where you can improve and where you can stand out from your competition. Your brand experience is critical to engaging customers, the sales channel and employees.
Take time to make it authentic and consistent.
Take our “One Question Only” Survey. We’ll share the results in a future email!
Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.