Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ten Maxims of Customer Experience

Ten simple truths about customer experience (with links to relevant blog posts and subscription research reports from me and my peers on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders team):

Whether or not you plan for it, your brand provides a customer experience to your customers.
Customers collect experiences throughout their journeys with your brand, regardless of your effort, investment or intent to deliver cohesive and satisfying experiences.

People base decisions based on what they experience and hear about your brand.
Every experience you provide to customers can encourage or discourage satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Your brand is what people feel and say it is, not what your brand believes or says it is.
Your brand is owned by the customer, not you. It is created and fashioned in the mind of your customers and prospects. You are what they think you are or what they hear from others.

What your brand does is more important than what it says.
Your brand will be ultimately be evaluated by its customers on what it does for them, not what it says in its ads, emails or on its website.

Brands that cannot retain customers cannot win.
Acquiring customers is costly and challenging; retaining and growing loyal customers is the key to business success and profitability.

For the remaining five maxims, please click through to my Gartner blog. I'd welcome your feedback on this list and any I might have missed. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Brands Do You Love? A Quick Customer Experience Exercise

What brands do you love? Stop. Make a list. Write them down or type them out, then continue reading.




Did you do it? I'm serious. Here's a free and immediate online notepad you can use if you need one.





My guess is that you had no difficulties identifying some brands you love. You did not object to the exercise. You understood it.

Yet when I speak with marketers about their brands' customer journeys and discuss the power of experiences that drive customers to love their brands, some stop me. A few laugh. A handful tells me that "love" isn't the right word. And I was once asked, "Are you serious?"

To those who get hung up on the word "love," I submit that they can change the label to "a strong and enduring sense of brand affinity," if they care to, but that does not change the concept. They love brands as consumers. So, why is it difficult for some marketer to see love as a potential state of their relationship with their own customers?

One argument I sometimes hear is that the brands those marketers love as consumers "have it easy"--they are in different verticals where love is easier to achieve--but is this true? Starbucks sells a black hot beverage that its customers can purchase at dozens of competitors within blocks of each of its locations. USAA is in financial services, an industry that struggles to earn trust. Quick-service restaurants (like Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread) and retailers (such as PetSmart and Bed Bath and Beyond) with strong consumer ratings are in the same industries (not to mention the same malls) as competitors with much lower ratings.

So, why is that we can respond so readily when asked about brands we love in our personal lives but struggle to understand the concept in relation to the brands we manage on our jobs?

To read why I believe marketers who love brand struggle to see it in their own brands' relationships with customers, please continue reading my blog on the Gartner site. I'd also appreciate your thoughts on the reasons for this disconnect.