Customer Experience is the New Brand

In Quicksand Words & Phrases I wrote about marketing terms that were so overused and empty they turn customers away. “Brand” unfortunately is in that group too. For different reasons. Its meaning has evolved, but it’s public persona hasn’t. It has too much baggage.

“Brand” used to be Madison Avenue, TV commercials, print ads and Darren Stevens (if you’re my age). It used to be logos, taglines, fonts and colors. It was outbound advertising pitched at customers.

But some marketing people aren’t so dumb. They recognized customers respond to experiences that are fulfilling and satisfying. Experiences associated with products and services. Build the experience and customers will come – and stay.

Voila! “Customer Experience” is the new “brand”.

What is the “Customer Experience”?
My friends Lynn and Joe at Parker LePla define “brand” as the sum total of all experiences a customer has with your company. I’m swapping “customer experience” for “brand” because of the baggage.

And customers experience your company in many ways beyond your tradeshow booth or logo. Here’s a short list to think about:

  • The manner in which your on-site staff interact with customers & each other (this is huge for service contractors)
  • Your operator’s friendliness & helpfulness when customers call in
  • Accuracy, timeliness & readability of your invoices
  • The manner & speed in which you resolve customer conflicts
  • Interruptions your suppliers may make delivering to customers’ sites
  • The usefulness of your web site to customers

3 Examples of Customer Experience

Although the following are consumer businesses, you get the idea.

Starbucks‘ European coffehouse experience is welcoming, attractive and makes you want to return. It’s created by many things. All intentional, all aimed at creating Starbucks’ desired customer experience. Contributors are:

  • Store architecture & signage
  • Training of cashiers & baristas
  • In-store layout & furniture
  • Additional non-coffee items to buy

Nordstrom‘s tuxeoded piano players are well known. But some time ago Nordstrom quit providing them. I don’t know why, maybe to lower costs.

The uproar from customers soon had Nordstrom bring the pianos and players back, and quickly.

Although piano players don’t sell clothes, they’re an important part of the Nordstrom’s customer experience. One of the emotional reasons for customers’ loyalty.

Krispy Kreme knows their customers. They’ve developed “Hot Doughnut Machine” technology to bring the “hot doughnut experience” to more people.

They call it “Doughnut Theater”. What else is there to say? You can watch creation take place. They even have a neon sign that lights up at the very moment their glazed doughnuts are coming out of the oven. So customers can watch for it and then pull in to buy.

How Do Customers Experience Your Company?

More About Customer Experience
In addition to this weekly blog, next month’s article will have more about customer experience. Sign up here if you’re interested in monthly articles sent directly to your inbox (if you haven’t already).

Technorati tags: branding, service, customers

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