Are your ears burning?
Find out how to ‘know’ how customers really feel about your brand.
Experiences. Every organisation in the world exists for a purpose, but at heart what they provide to customers is experiences. From social media giants to your mechanic, your doctor to your taxman.
Now, some survive despite the experience (e.g. the taxman) while others thrive because they have thought long and hard about the experiences they have crafted. In the Masters of Scale podcast, Reid Hoffman interviews Brian Chesky, Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb. Their conversation discusses the Airbnb experience, and the take-away for me is the effort that went into hand-crafting that experience, built on a vision and reimagining what is possible.
So how do you, in 2018, with hundreds of channels and access to a global economy with a population of 7.5 billion people, monitor, manage and measure how your brand is perceived, then refine the experience and measure again - constantly evolving the experiences you offer to meet the needs of existing and future customers? Pheww!
It starts with caring, understanding and ensuring you experience it yourself. Forgetting what you think you know.
Warning: you will need to get out of the office. You will need to hit the road with your reps, you will need to stand in store with your retail team, and you will need to listen. I mean really, really, really listen to your customers.
You need to breakdown and look afresh at every touchpoint and every interaction; from how you reach new customers, to how you build loyalty. This discovery happens before you can pull data, produce reports, and define KPI's.
Oh, and throughout this don’t forget to consider your employee experiences as well - while that is a whole other topic, it is just as critical to listen to your people and to create amazing experiences for them. Believe me, if they love what they are doing your customers will as well. As Forbes notes, "companies that lead in customer experience have 60% more engaged employees, and study after study has shown that investing in employee experience impacts the customer experience and can generate a high ROI for the company" (source).
Armed with an understanding of the actual experience, map it out. Document the good, the bad and the ugly. Then you can start to re-craft not what it is or what it should be, but what it could be. This is also the opportunity to start thinking about your business strategy and defining your goals and objectives for this exercise.
And by the way, this is not a one-off exercise but a lifestyle change - you will need to commit to regular exercise! ;)
Then comes the really cool part: you can start coming up with ideas that help craft the reimagined experience. You get to start thinking about how you align new and emerging digital technology to support the experience; from conversational AI to IOT and Mixed Reality, and you get to start prototyping these experiences.
Now that you have deep understanding of the experience you had before and the experience you will have next, you can progress to actually delivering change. This of course provides a multitude of challenges - everyone loves change, right? Challenges often include building new skills and capabilities internally, helping your own people prepare, and ensuring your employee experiences are also taken care of.
This is also where you must start building in digital feedback loops with your customers and employees so you can begin to monitor and manage the experience. This includes (but is definitely not limited to) Social Listening and Engagement, Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys, call monitoring, and digital analytics. This is typically where a traditional CRM system comes into play, somewhere you can centralise the data and signals from all fronts, across all channels and interactions, to start building your Customer IQ.
After rolling up your sleeves to really experiencing how your brand is perceived today, and after going crazy and reimagining how people could experience your brand in the future, then delivering on that reimagined vision - it is time to start measuring.
Back in Step 2 we talked about defining your goals and objectives. In Step 3 we talked about the creation of digital feedback loops. This is where these two pieces now collide. This is where you start to measure the impact you have created, you start to measure how your brand is perceived. I'm hazarding a guess that before you started you didn’t have a baseline - but if you have a history of collecting NPS scores, that's a fantastic resource to start from!
With your visionary experience in place, and the data (qualitative and quantitative) flowing back in, you can start to optimise. But be careful, I warned you in Step 2, this process never ends. But, if you embrace it, love it, create human-centred experiences and always strive to be better, the chances are you will thrive in the future, with positive brand perception, growth and profitability.