A couple of years ago I wrote an article titled “The Role Of Brand In Customer Experience.” In it, I repeat something that’s been at the core of our customer experience consulting practice for over a decade, that brand is what sets customer expectations for experience–and customer experience is based in large part on how well you deliver on the promise your brand makes.
While we covered a lot of ground, here are five takeaways from that conversation you may find useful:
1. Start By Understanding Where You Are Now
Articulated or not, you have a brand. It’s what your people and your customers believe to be true about your company. What you stand for, and what you don’t. Where you’re strong, and where you’re weak–and importantly, how these perceptions accrue to your competition as well. Only by assessing where you are today (preferably through quantitative research that can identify gaps and drivers) can you chart a path toward where you wish to be tomorrow.
2. Clearly Define Your Brand Strategy
Your brand strategy should be closely linked to your business strategy. Aligning them gives a crisp view of the future–your vision, your brand and your organization. It supports near- and long-term business objectives and provides a lens through which to prioritize initiatives. With this context you provide a strong foundation, giving employees a reason to believe and a clear understanding of their role in bringing the brand to life.
3. Delivering On The Brand Promise Is An Organization-Wide Responsibility
Responsibility for the ways employees behave and the experiences they deliver crosses all organizational siloes. Yet from a customer perspective, one of the greatest failure points in brand congruence and customer experience delivery is the lack of consistency in cross-silo experiences. That’s why defining how the brand promise translates to experiences across channels–from marketing and sales to online, mobile, and customer service–makes it critical to bring a cross-functional team to the table at the start, and keep them involved.
4. Align Rewards With Desired Objectives
Every company wants its employees to behave in certain ways. Not every company understands that employees predictably and consistently behave exactly as they have the incentive to behave. One bank we work with has been product-sales focused for years. Despite a significant investment in a new, more customer-centric brand, branch employee behaviors didn’t change until they were given the incentive for being customer-centric, rather than simply for selling products.
5. Take The Time You Need To Get It Right
The reality is that aligning your experience with your brand–and delivering on its promise–isn’t a simple task. Changing ingrained behaviors and beliefs requires a great deal of time, energy and commitment. It’s often a 12- to 24-month process, with internal brand launches preceding external communications more often than not. To get there, your people need to first become aware of your brand, moving to an understanding of what delivering it means to them and, ultimately, becoming advocates and taking “ownership” of it themselves.
As with much in life, self-awareness is the greatest tool for driving change. Which is why, when it comes to delivering on the promise of your brand, knowing how you are actually perceived means you’ll be able to better see where and how employee behaviors and organizational barriers most positively or negatively affect your brand, your customers, and your people. And, of course, take action as a result.
This blog originally ran on CMO.com, where Michael Hinshaw writes the weekly “Get Customer-Centric” blog.