To win customer loyalty in today’s world brands must cultivate an emotional connection with their consumers, says IoD member Craig McVoy, founder of Beyond Brand. Here, he shares the seven principles of creating a powerful customer experience that will differentiate you from the crowd
Business is changing. It’s no longer enough to have a good product with decent service and expect to stand out in the marketplace or attract premium customers.
Today, customers can price-shop for similar products and services with a few swipes on their mobile phone.
Today, expectations for levels of speed, personalisation and service are rising daily as customers compare the experience of Amazon, Apple or First Direct, with all the businesses that they use.
How can you survive, let alone thrive in this uncertain market?
Most businesses have poured small fortunes into a brand new website, sales training, pay-per-click, SEO, another brand new website – with very little to show for it.
But there is one area that’s been proven to deliver long-term sustainable growth, whatever the size of your business.
In today’s world people choose to buy from a company because of how it feels to do business with them. It’s the emotional connection you build through your whole experience with a business, which affects your loyalty, repeat purchase and retention more than any other factor. It’s not what they do, it’s how they make you feel.
This focus on making the whole journey your customers go through with you memorable and valuable, is why customer experience is the number one brand differentiator in business today.
The seven principles of creating a leading brand experience
The great news for you is that it’s possible to deliver in almost every business. All it takes is the vision to see beyond the way things are normally done, and the determination to be the one that breaks the mold.
The following seven principles are paramount to creating amazing experiences and businesses of all sizes can easily implement them.
- Purpose – What is the reason that you exist as a business and what do you stand for?
People need to understand your USP is and your values. If your business didn’t exist would it leave a gap, or are you just another ‘me too’ brand?
Being a ‘me too’ brand means you’ll compete on price, availability, product spec and any other margin-eroding factor.
It will also stop you from commanding a premium for your offer. In a world that is laced with ‘me too’ brands, you have to ask yourself, what makes your business so special?
- Audiences – Who are the people you want your brand to connect with to become your long-term fans?
Knowing who your most valuable customers are, and truly understanding what makes them tick, is crucial to optimising the success of your relationship.
I’m still amazed how many businesses don’t know who their ideal customers are. What the mix of their customer profiles look like, and how they use that information to target new sales and prospects.
You need to know this stuff in order to attract the right customers, who will bring you long term success & profitability for your brand.
- Approach – What methods do you use to reach those audiences, so that you make the right connections?
86 per cent of customers said they are happy to pay up to 25 per cent more for something if they were to be given a good experience.
How you approach your customers is a key part of how you make them feel, and that is what makes people love your brand.
One question more important than any other in this area is this – Do you leave how you interact with your audiences to chance, or do you design it?
Sounds simple. But do you have a customer strategy that outlines how you plan on interacting with your customers, across all touch-points, in a way that is consistently designed to deliver against your objectives and your Brand Promise?
- Channels – What channels do you use to communicate with those audiences?
86 per cent of customers are now using multiple channels to communicate and interact with the brands they are using, so you need to be able to deliver this in your business.
The approach will vary across each channel, but you need to make sure the touch-points throughout each journey are all joined together.
The single, most important factor for you to consider right now is this: Are all the channels that you use integrated? Seamlessly?
- Offer – What do you provide that is unique to the rest of the market which differentiates you from the competition?
Can someone pick up your product or service and compare it without distinction to someone else’s?
You need to ensure that your USP is deep enough and can be felt everywhere.
Your Offer needs to be carefully designed and planned, to offer your audiences what they need, where they need it, in the easiest way possible.
Your job is to make the interaction as smooth and painless as possible. Remove the friction and you will increase the satisfaction. That is where you can create the real differentiation of value!
- Advantage – How do you use insights and data to give you a competitive edge?
We now live in a world where we produce so much data we don’t know what to do with it. Understanding what people value is the key to delivering not only their needs, but also their wants and desires too.
Your task is to know what problem you are looking to solve if you are to attract your perfect audience.
And also, what feeling you want to leave them with to influence repeat purchase, loyalty and recommendations, to increase their value and commercial results.
- Evolution – How do you invest in evolution to ensure that your business proposition creates things that improve people’s lives?
Great companies evolve. They have creative DNA flowing right through them.
They dedicate time, money & resources to long term innovation that is separate from the current budgets.
They are the ones who have raving fans and loyal tribes. They survive in the long run whilst those that don’t evolve fall away.
Evolution is inevitable. It is why some companies lead the way and why some of the leaders of the past are now no more.
Those that have adapted and stayed ahead of the curve, have survived. Those who stood still lost ground and ultimately were replaced in their market.
Craig McVoy is the author of Beyond Brand: Why it’s the experience that causes people to fall in love with your brand!, out now.