Customer experience is not limited to an interaction. Cumulative perceptions, interactions, circumstances and judgments add up over time to form “customer experience” for each of our prospects, customers, partners, suppliers, and stakeholders. This means customer experience is longitudinal, i.e. developed across a long period of time. Here’s how you can ensure longitudinal value in customer experience:
1) Manage Your Brand Promise
What does your brand promise? There’s the official statement, and then there’s everything else that’s communicated, both formally and informally. Everything we suggest, and the way we do it, becomes our actual brand promise in customers’ minds. And that’s all that really counts. What’s in our minds matters little in comparison to what’s in customers’ minds. Two essential things for marketers to know about customers’ minds are how their goals and your company’s actions affect your brand promise:
A. Customers’ Goals
Customers’ interpretations of brand promise are framed by the goals they’re trying to achieve – not just in the moment (transactional), but what they’re combining your solution with in the broader context of their endeavors (contextual). A customer that’s aiming to fill a gap (urgency and necessity motivation), for instance, is likely to interpret your brand promise a bit, or a lot, differently than a customer that’s aiming to expand their capabilities through your solution (opportunistic motivation).
How Marketing creates great customer experience: By segmenting customers based on their overall goal, you’ll identify their expectation sets. Meeting or exceeding expectations is the definition of satisfaction or delight. How Marketing creates great customer experience: Clearly identify expectation-sets for the end-to-end customer journey of each customer-goal-segment.
B. Your Actions
Actions speak louder than words. The “how, when and why” of your marketing efforts implies a lot to customers. It’s said that about 80% of communication is nonverbal. Transparency has increased, and customers see through intentions, read between the lines, and connect the dots to a greater extent than companies typically realize. Just as important: you’ve communicated the brand promise, but how much do you know about how well your company is delivering on it? Are you monitoring customer service dispositioning reports? Are you paying attention to customers’ complaints and constructive criticism in all available voice-of-the-customer reports? If not, your brand promise may be creating distrust, and your marketing budget will be taxed in the future with greater efforts needed to overcome that.
How Marketing creates great customer experience: Like any human-to-human relationship, managing the match-up of actions and words is the key to building trust and loyalty.
2) Know What Behaviors You’re Training
How do your offers affect long-term customer experience? There’s the immediate purchase or engagement behavior, and then there’s the customer experience value quotient. This is a ratio in customer’s subconscious. The numerator is everything they’re receiving, and the denominator is price paid to you, plus their time, effort, stress, and subsequent costs. Customers pick up cues from offers about who and what you value most, and how that affects their customer experience value quotient. Here’s a self-assessment:
- Do offers convey your interest in their goals, above your interest in selling?
- Do long-time customers get deal sweeteners as good or better than new customers?
- Do recipients discover the fine-print restrictions only after they’ve jumped through hoops?
- Is your push for bundles honoring feedback you’ve already received from individual recipients?
- Does loyalty engagement honor the original deal and reward the long-term relationship?
- Do you find customers stocking up during sales, with minimal activity until the next sale?
- Are alliance/channel partners and customer-facing touch-points fully equipped for consistency for every offer?
- Do participants in research hear about what you’ve done with their feedback?
- How much customer service burden is related to marketing offers?
- Are you monitoring external and internal customers’ perceptions of all the above?
How Marketing creates great customer experience
Tailor your offers to each customer’s goals, keeping their customer experience value quotient in mind. This will increase ongoing rewards to them and to your company.
3) Expand Your Influence
Marketing communicates value, yet upstream functions create and deliver value. As the owner of market intelligence and the communicator of the brand promise, Marketing should strive to keep the value equation in-sync.
How Marketing creates great customer experience: Recognize interdependencies and forge strong communication and coordination with other functional areas.
Brand promise is shaped not only by formal value propositions, but also by word-of-mouth and ongoing experiences customers have with your brand. To protect the brand promise you envision — your intentional customer experience — Marketing must keep it real in what’s promised, be aware of long-term effects of marketing offers, and influence the rest of the company in aligning value delivery accordingly.
Adapted from Lynn Hunsaker’s article originally published by Southern California ANA: Is the Value of Your Marketing Both Transactional and Longitudinal? How Marketing Creates Great Customer Experience – Part 2 of 4
Other articles in this 4-part series: