The entire process covered by the term ‘customer experience’ is much longer than many people realize. It is a process which begins with the moment that a customer realizes that they have a need to be filled, and ends once they have met that need. There are a potentially huge number of steps between those two points, and every step represents an opportunity for another person, or entity, to step in and fulfill the customer’s need.
Because of this, branding has a prominent and important role to play in the customer experience, Brands define the experience that the customer has, customers associate individual brands with the benefits that they offer. Businesses that regularly satisfy their customers will build their brand reputation faster and will find that they have a much greater degree of control over the entirety of the customer experience process.
Consumers demand the most satisfying and straightforward experiences when buying products from a brand, but they often find that there is quite a difference between their expectations, and reality. This has given rise to an effect known as ‘the customer expectation paradox’, where customers want more from the companies that they do business with, but they have come to expect less. In other words, customers almost expect to be frustrated in their experiences dealing with businesses.
An effective customer experience strategy will exploit this effect and try to counteract the customers’ low expectations. If your business can be successful in both raising your customers’ expectations, and then meeting or exceeding them, you will be fostering long term loyalty to your brand. Here are three tips to keep in mind as you formulate your customer experience strategy.
Map it Out
A customer experience map is a visual representation of the entire customer experience process. Your map should show every stage, from the customer first realizing that they have a need which your business can fill, to finally approaching your business in order to fulfil that need. By putting the process into an easily digestible visual form, you will make it easy to identify where there are weaknesses and room for improvement.
As part of this exercise, you should consider how each stage of a customer’s interaction with your business will help their decision-making. This will make it easier to identify what it is you can do in order to influence how potential customers think about your business.
In order for the customer experience of your business to be as positive as possible you need to develop and deliver a consistent strategy. If you have a product or service which you sell through a multitude of distribution channels, and some of those distributors are inconsistent in their pricing or values, then it can reflect poorly on your brand. Much of consumer psychology is subconscious, always be wary of deviations within your business. Delivering a consistent strategy will help to build your brand.
Remember, You Are Not a Customer
The biggest mistake that businesses make when devising their consumer experience strategy is that they fail to realize that, just because they think something, it doesn’t mean that the opinion is shared by their customers. Never assume that your feelings regarding your brand represent your customers; listen to the numbers.
Branding plays a key role in the customer experience, by developing your business’s understanding of how the customer experience works, you will find it easy to take advantage of the process in order to reinforce your brand.