Customer Experience: the only path to brand loyalty
Whatcompanies come to mind when you think of the world’s most respected brands? How do you think these companies became the most respected brands? If you answered “marketing” or “advertising,” you are only partially correct. The full answer is “customer experience.” A brand can be seen as “an identity or image considered as an asset.” In some cases, the “brand” now suggests values and promises that the consumer may perceive and buy. When people talk about brand management, I think of going through different phases of brand maturity. Marketing and advertising influence the first two phases as they try to impress buyers. To achieve the third phase, brand loyalty, companies must provide consistently excellent customer service.
Why? One (or more) poor experience can damage and destroy a brand in the same way that a series of exceptional experiences can establish and strengthen a brand. No amount of advertising can save a poorly executed experience. When a “poor experience” happens, companies move mountains and spend huge amounts of money to get it back. Even then, plenty of evidence suggests that the act of recovering from failures never perpetuates customer loyalty. Companies often stumble when trying to cross the gap between promise/opportunity and reality. As companies create a brand for themselves in the marketplace, and as they seek to gain loyalty, they must make appropriate investments in the customer experience to strengthen the brand. For example:
- Marketing and all advertising must reinforce the brand promise.
- Engineering and product management must develop products that emphasize the brand.
- Pre-sales and sales must be marketed in a way that reinforces the brand.
- Operations and customer service must deliver brand value.
These elements of delivering seamless customer service come together harmoniously, linking opportunity with reality. And so, in companies with high brand loyalty, brand management is customer experience management. You can’t advertise your way to brand loyalty. The tipping point is that combining corporate brand promises with corporate capabilities (reality) in a comprehensive customer experience is the only path to brand loyalty.