Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day: A Day For Love, Brands and Customer Experience

Source: Laura Ockel, https://unsplash.com/@viazavier
Today is a day to ponder the nature of love, which makes it the perfect day for marketers to consider customer experience. After all, the Buy/Own/Advocate customer journey model contains a stage for Love. Love is what turns a stale customer journey that fails to create a strong relationship into a successful one built on satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Although there are differences between your relationships with brands and those with loved ones, there are also similarities. People feel strongly about the brands they love in a way that transcends the commercial nature of the relationship. If most of the brands in your life were to disappear tomorrow, you might not even notice, but for a select set of brands in your life, their loss would hurt.

You might be heartbroken if a favorite coffee shop closed. You may lament a favorite retailer changing hands. And the loss of a social network, such as Vine or Club Penguin, can cause people to feel a sense of denial and anger--the first two stages in humans' process for dealing with loss. Heck, some people will even ink their favorite brands onto their body in the same place others would display a heart tattoo surrounding the name of a spouse or child.

What might brands learn about customer experience from the fact people can love brands in much the same way they love other people? I find this a worthwhile thought exercise because it can encourage marketers to reassess their attitudes about their customers, products, and measurement.

Here are three questions to spark thought and dialog:

Can you measure your love for your spouse or significant other on a spreadsheet?

Every couple goes through rough patches every now and then, and when this happened to you, how did you know without an objective metric or dashboard? Was it purely about the number of hugs or kisses per day? Was the warning sign that the number of times you uttered "I love you" dropped by 16.8%? Somehow, you are able to assess your relationship and respond to potential problems, even though you lack the sort of data, analytics, and dashboards you use to measure your brand relationships.

I'm hardly suggesting customer experience should not or cannot be measured--in fact, the truth is quite the opposite--but what mistakes might you make in your personal relationships if you only tried to measure and evaluate them using an Excel spreadsheet? And what may be lost in our customer relationships if we rigidly stick to quantitative, attributable, and lagging indicators of transaction and dollar volume?
“The measure of love is to love without measure.”― Francis de Sales
For two more questions that explore the differences or similarities between your love of special people in your life and the brands you buy (or manage), please continue reading on my Gartner blog. And best wishes for a warm Valentine's Day! 

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