Customer experience becomes a priority for 2007 (8 Jan 2007, The Wise Marketer)
The Wise Marketer - Home Subscribe to our RSS feed!   Share it!   
Email this page to a friend! Tweet this! Share this via LinkedIn! Share this on Facebook! Share this on Google Plus!
  Mobile Edition Tablet Edition
   The Wise Marketer          Customer Strategy Network             Log In          Register for Free   
Stay up to date with What's Hot in the world of Customer Loyalty and Marketing All the latest Customer Loyalty and Marketing News and Developments worldwide - just the facts Facts, Figures and Stats to support your Loyalty, Engagement and Marketing initiatives Opinion and Analysis from the world's most respected Customer Loyalty and Marketing luminaries
The Loyalty Guide - the only complete global Guide to Customer Loyalty, Engagement and Marketing Feature Articles and How-To Guides by the world's most respected Customer Loyalty and Marketing experts Details of the top Customer Loyalty and Marketing Conferences worldwide Search The Wise Marketer from top to bottom!
   The Wise Marketer   

Get your headlines by email every Thursday - Free!

Customer experience becomes a priority for 2007

Swap to the printable version of this page

Monday January 8, 2007                      Tweet this article


The wheels of industry usually move slowly but in the case of customer experience management - the science of building brand preference by meeting customer needs and exceeding expectations - the speed has been rapid over the past year, according to CoreBrand, which suggests five best practices for a better customer experience, and ten warning signs of failing brands.

In fact, the company suggests, customer experience management has become a critical objective for most businesses during the past year or two. Customer experience teams and enhancement initiatives have emerged everywhere, and companies of all shapes and sizes are now dedicating themselves to identifying, isolating and managing their customer interactions, both to improve satisfaction and to retain their most valuable assets: their customers.

The push for simplicity
Simplicity and ease of business have become more important than the comfort of simply conducting "business as usual", according to Patrick Ohlin of CoreBrand: "We see this in our work every day. One executive, in describing the desire to make it simple, told us that his services needed to be as 'easy as Google'. Another talked of leap-frogging the competition by offering simpler transactional forms and intuitive interfaces."

Indeed, by recognising the power of everyday media and communications to reinforce brand strategy, each of those companies - and others like them - are setting a trend that will certainly gain pace over the next few years. They are breaking down functional silos, de-segregating marketing and operational budgets, and beginning the process of refocusing frequent and often-unheralded touchpoints to deliver enhanced customer experiences.

Quantitative brand management
According to Ohlin, "We know what it takes to tie strategy to implementation and to unlock brand equity. We also know that brand alignment and consistency are prerequisites for improving the customer experience - especially when the brand has been damaged by isolated events. A former financial services client estimated the savings from clarifying applications and presenting fewer opportunities for defection at some US$8 million annually."

Five steps for brand and customer experience improvement
To help attract and retain best customers, CoreBrand offers five key steps that lead to a better-managed brand:

  1. Customers return to companies they understand and trust
    Raise your conversation with customers to its most natural state of clarity and simplicity. Be honest, recognise past problems, and articulate what you are doing to fix them. Employees and partners will respect you, and customers will listen. Reward participation (i.e. the internal and external sharing of expectations and experiences). Competitive reviews can also help establish a baseline against which to compare.
  2. Revisit your company's core identity, values and principles
    Are your people and processes supporting these? If not, find out why. Think about how you gain or lose value through different types of customer experience, and map out a picture of the current state. Identify the key behaviours that impact your brand's performance.
  3. When you know where the problems are...
    After finding the main problems, run a cost/benefit analysis to determine the magnitude and value of the changes needed. If the ROI is there, go for it. Prioritize first, then set achievable goals. Focus on the most critical points of interaction with your most valuable customers first. Try to make innovative changes that reinforce your brand and demonstrate real customer focus.
  4. Consider how you measure satisfaction.
    Work with business leaders to balance financial and customer experience goals - these should always align. Fast-paced industries, such as technology, may measure satisfaction more frequently while slower, more traditional industries might use quarterly touchpoint research to remain responsive. How you present your products and services is also important: Linking product development specifications to post-sales surveys can expose innovations for which there is little demand while averting future dissatisfaction.
  5. Evaluate and quantify progress against goals at planned intervals
    Use tracking studies to maintain your focus on customers and provide a regular basis for realignment. Online questionnaires, direct mail surveys, and paid user research can all be effective ways to collect this kind of data.

The golden rule
Finally, CoreBrand warns, companies must remember why customers matter so much. The brand is a total reflection of not only the company but also of the experiences of its customers. Without customers, brands lose meaning.

But customer experiences are a constantly changing reflection of brand strategy and how effectively it is delivered, and this has become even more complex with the steady maturation of the internet.

According to Ohlin, by acknowledging the strong correlation between simpler and more transparent interactions and higher customer satisfaction scores, fewer companies now question whether returns on customer experience investments justify the expense.

Brand deterioration alert
At the same time, the problem of a deteriorating brand can be side-stepped if you know what to look for. The solution, Ohlin says, is a customer-focused approach that realigns what the company says with what it actually does. The most common warning signs of brand deterioration include:

  1. Low customer satisfaction and retention, as evidenced by low repeat business and high churn rates. Consider market research to identify causal links and define the priorities for improvement.
  2. Flat or falling market share. Evaluate competitors and potential substitutes against your brand criteria and market dynamics.
  3. Poor internal communications. Evaluate strategy, organisational structure, bottlenecks, breakdowns and competing interests. Push for organisational accountability.
  4. Low advertising and marketing spend compared to your competitors. Evaluate your marketing channels and their effectiveness.
  5. Inconsistent brand messages or themes in different places and channels. Evaluate your brand positioning and execution. If necessary, refine the core story and messaging.
  6. Influx of new or out-of-category competitors and messages. Identify your top 2 or 3 points of differentiation and press them home every single day.
  7. High customer service costs compared to industry standards. Look for ways to streamline, simplify, and improve transactional communications while cutting costs.
  8. High ratio of ad-hoc to planned communications. Evaluate your communications strategy. An audit may help you to identify opportunities to standardise and automate communications.
  9. Decentralised, or non-performance based workforce and low employee morale. Provide tools to educate and orient employees while enabling them to focus on satisfying customers. Reward those who adhere to standards.
  10. A risk-averse company culture develops. Reward innovation and risk-taking (within acceptable limits) to management, legal and compliance teams.

Patrick Ohlin is the brand director for CoreBrand, with over 13 years of experience in global corporate branding consulting. CoreBrand's clients include Allstate Insurance, Penske, Morgan Stanley, and NASD.

More Info:

> The Customer Loyalty Marketing Guide

Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend   or   Tweet this article

In related news...

Have your loyalty news delivered - free.

Get all the most important customer loyalty and marketing news by email every Thursday, and it's still absolutely Free ...
Sign up!


What is The Wise Marketer?

We're the only truly unbiased, global source of news & research for customer loyalty and marketing professionals...   Join Free Here

10% OFF UNTIL SEPTEMBER! See The Loyalty Guide 7 up close, and find out how to increase profits and market share with more effective loyalty marketing!

Join nearly 15,000 other loyalty and marketing professionals and get our free weekly news roundups...

Sign Up For Free

Subscribe and follow...

Get our free weekly newsletter
Follow us on Twitter
Access our RSS news feed

Hot off the presses...

What's been happening recently?

Vodafone NZ issues 5-millionth loyalty reward - The New Zealand mobile phone network provider Vodafone has announced that its loyal customers have now redeemed more than 5.5 million rewards since the launch of its loyalty programme one year ...
An open letter to CMOs from the Loyalty Academy - The business of developing Customer Loyalty marketing strategies is multi-faceted, and the most successful individuals bring diverse backgrounds to the table. The most widely respected ...
Ten ways technology can increase customer loyalty - Recent figures from Gartner suggest that there will be some 30 billion web-connected devices globally by 2020 and, while this presents fantastic opportunities for marketers, our focus ...
Marketers struggling to make emails stand out - Successful marketing via the consumer's email inbox is getting harder and harder in the digital age, with many marketers finding their emails are getting lost among a sea of competitor ...
Hilton spots a whole new segment of travellers - A survey for Hilton Worldwide's global brand Hampton by Hilton has identified a new type of traveller that has been defined as the 'Seekender', which regularly takes advantage of weekends to ...
Why do Millennials behave like X's and Boomers? - Millennials are not all that different than Gen X and Boomers in how they shop and engage with online advertising, according to a study by performance marketing technology firm Adroit ...
UK firms still missing the Sales-Marketing link - Despite the clear benefits of aligning sales and marketing teams, two-fifths of British companies have yet to align their sales goals with their marketing activities, according to research ...
Retailers increase budgets to enhance loyalty schemes - Retailers do generally recognise an increasing need to evolve their loyalty programmes to satisfy today's tech-savvy, tech-enabled customer, according to a report from Boston Retail ...
Gift cards or Cash back: Where's the Loyalty? - The appeal of customer rewards schemes is flagging, and consumers are increasingly confused and put off by all the changes going on in major rewards schemes run by card issuers and retailers ...
E-retail survey reveals new directions and strategies - More than a third (37%) of US and UK retailers and branded manufacturers have annual revenue of US$15 million or more exclusively in online sales, and approximately 40% of their total ...
UK consumers' coupon usage reaches 99 percent - With coupon usage by UK supermarket shoppers surging to 99%, and coupon redemptions increasing 37% over last year, consumers are saving £3.2 billion annually, according to research by coupon ...
How to get Omni-Channel Retail right first time - Two years ago, creating an integrated omni-channel strategy was becoming an important objective. Forward-thinking retailers had the luxury of trial and error and the chance to evolve slowly ...
Retailers could benefit by embracing mobile apps - News that the UK omni-channel retailer Argos has generated £1bn of m-commerce revenue in a year should act as warning for other retail brands that fail to utilise the power of the mobile ...
How J D Williams cracked the Engagement code - With customer behaviour continually changing, how can retailers ensure the quality and relevance of each customer's experience? The UK-based omni-channel fashion retailer J D Williams has made a ...
It's time to get serious about customer retention - Retention has always played second fiddle to acquisition within marketing - despite the fact that acquiring new customers is far more expensive than retaining existing ones and that the top ...
How Gamification drives Customer Engagement - With the UK eCommerce sales reaching £38bn last year, there's stiff competition to find new ways to attract customers to a website or app, keep them engaged while there and ultimately to ...
Forget the customer's cash: win their attention - Today, brands are constantly battling to get consumers to part with their data and their cash. However, whilst both are important, there is one thing that should be the focus of their efforts ...
Retailers missing valuable insights from customer data - The role of records and information managers is at a crossroads as the function struggles to prove itself relevant in customer-focused industries such as retail, according to a study ...
How to take a joined-up approach to CRM - The role of CRM is evolving. Its uses are diversifying yet it continues to be business critical, supporting many key business processes from social media to customer data management. It's not only ...
Make every week Customer Service Week - There actually is a week set aside as 'Customer Service Week'. Most people don't even know when it is so for those who don't, it's the first full week of October. Believe it or not, there are even ...

  ... Never miss anything important - join nearly 15,000 marketing professionals and get our free weekly newsletter, written by marketers for marketers - sign up here!


10% OFF UNTIL SEPTEMBER! See The Loyalty Guide 7 up close, and find out how to increase profits and market share with more effective loyalty marketing!
   The Wise Marketer   
   Published By & Copyright 2015 Wise Research / The Wise Marketer. All rights reserved.   
The Wise Marketer - Home Subscribe to our RSS feed! Share this on Facebook! Share this on Google Plus! Tweet this! Share this via LinkedIn! Email this page to a friend!