Brand and customer experience are two sides of the same coin. What we mean is this: how customers see you as a brand is shaped by how they interact with you throughout their buying journey — from ads to word of mouth, from pre- to after-sales support, from social media engagement to branded events.
With that in mind, we can say that the battle for brand loyalty in 2021 and beyond will be won by businesses that take customer experience (CX) seriously and execute strategies audiences connect with. According to Gartner, customer experience drives over 60 percent of brand loyalty, more than price and product combined.
So, if you want to improve your brand and inspire loyalty, you need to make customers feel valued, engaged, and eager to spend. We’ll shed some light on just how you can do that, with a little help from CX legend, international keynote speaker, author, and coach, Dan Gingiss.
Joining brand and customer experience together
Building a brand that results in sales and customer loyalty hinges on meeting customers’ evolving expectations.
For example, customers today do lots of research before making buying decisions. They want to know who’s behind the products, and what the company stands for. They’re looking for brands to foster authentic connections and use technology to help personalize experiences. Consider that 82 percent of US customers seek out brands offering a human touch.
While multiple brands may have similar products and prices, only one will speak to them to earn trust and the sale. And that will be the brand that offers a smoother experience.
How does your CX strategy stack up?
Take the assessment to find out.
Word of mouth outreach increases brand awareness
Happy customers will not only be loyal to you, but they will also become your company’s best brand ambassadors. They’re likely to leave good reviews about your products, share their positive experiences on social media, and tell their friends, family, and coworkers about your company in person.
As Gingiss said in a recent webinar, nobody talks about ‘meh’ experiences. It’s the great ones that get shared. In fact, 71 percent of people recommend a product or service because they received an exceptional customer experience.
How to improve your brand with customer experience
CX ripples across all areas of your business – from website design, shipping, email newsletters, social media, and more. There are ways to improve your brand by paying attention to audience needs and implementing effective CX strategies.
Here are five ways to improve customer experiences and, in turn, your brand.
Adopt a CX-focused mindset
Your brand needs to be consistent with a uniform vision of customer experience throughout your company. The path to achieving this starts with answering the question, “Who’s responsible for customer experience?”.
For example, HubSpot wrote an entire report emphasizing how companies are hiring and developing executives whose sole responsibility is CX. Of course, how you choose to assign CX is totally dependent on your organization’s structure and your team’s capacity. But no matter who is responsible, they should develop a clear, CX-focused vision your entire team can get on board with.
What to do:
Write out your guiding principles for how you want your customers to connect, feel, think about, and engage with your brand. What does your target audience value most? What would win them over if you were making friends? From there, you can map out a workflow for implementing CX.
The principles you establish in this process should carry throughout every department and interaction customers have with your brand.
Something to note, however, is that an exceptional experience begins from within. If employees aren’t having a meaningful experience or don’t even know what that looks like, you can’t expect them to deliver that to customers. “Experience is delivered by humans, so humans need to want to create remarkable experiences, not just feel like they have to. So, show them what that looks like with a great employee experience,” Gingiss said.
Understand your target audience
A solid 66 percent of consumers expect companies to understand their needs. You need to be the brand that does. Find out what they’re looking for across their entire buyer journey and personalize their experience.
Investing time to create detailed buyer personas and map out your customer journeys will pay off, as customers will feel the work you’ve put into understanding them.
What to do:
Segment your customer base and create detailed customer profiles. This will help you understand where they’re coming from, their buying behavior, and what they need from your brand throughout their journey and across all your channels.
A customer relationship management tool can help you collect data and get useful insights.
Capture customer feedback
By now, it's an infamous story: Bain & Company found that 80 percent of organizations believed they were delivering a high-quality experience. However, when B&C surveyed these organizations’ customers, only eight percent said they agree.
This kind of disconnect can’t be good for brand and customer experience. You need to keep your ear to the ground and listen to what your customers have to say.
What to do:
- Collect reviews. See what customers have to say about your products or service. Both positive and negative feedback can be extremely helpful for your marketing, sales, and even product teams.
- Use live chat tools. They help you initiate real-time conversations about how customers are using your website. You can ask what they came for or what they need help with to get visitor data.
- Use a phone system. This will help you listen in on customer or prospect conversations. With the right software, you can even pull call recordings for up to six months, replay those recordings, and take notes on common patterns showing up in these conversations. For example, if you notice customers really enjoy a certain feature, you could start highlighting that on your website.
- Create and send surveys. It’s important to hear honest feedback from your followers after key interactions. Use surveys like customer service satisfaction (CSAT) scores and Net Promoter Score (NPS) to get both quantitative and qualitative feedback.
Once your team collects and analyzes your customer feedback, you’ll have a better idea of what needs improving and what’s actually working.
Prioritize the human connection
Did you know 59 percent of consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of their brand and customer experience? This is a problem.
How customers feel about your values, mission, and efforts to give back and make the world a better place inspires emotional responses that are crucial for brand-building. Once you make customers “feel” something, they form an attachment.
In a Harvard Business Review study on customer emotions, researchers learned emotionally connected customers are more likely to recommend brands they care about, less likely to “defect” to a competitor, and 2.3 times more willing to pay a premium to brands providing a better customer experience.
What to do:
There’s an old saying in sales that “people buy from people, not businesses.” So try to assess whether you’re reaching out to foster genuine human connections or simply hawking your wares.
What can you do to show the human side of your brand and customer experience? Maybe it’s social media engagement, content featuring real people, or two-way conversations via video or chat. Choose what works better for your target audience.
Start investing in omnichannel strategies
More and more companies are investing in an omnichannel experience. These brands aim to provide a seamless customer experience across desktop sites, mobile, social media, live phone/online chat, and brick-and-mortar locations.
This not only helps customers easily communicate with companies over the channels they prefer, but it’s also critical for creating a consistent brand voice no matter the channel or medium.
What to do:
The best approach here is to invest in technology that helps you centralize workflows and data.
For example, a customer experience platform helps teams have conversations with customers over multiple channels from the same dashboard — and allows for a seamless transition between those channels when needed. Interaction history is stored at the same place and data silos of customer experience data are unified.
An additional pro tip from Gingiss:
“Keep in mind that amazing CX means different things to different people. Consider things like generational gaps, verticals, and the products or services you offer in order to implement what works best for your business. You can’t just rely on a copy and paste version of what everyone else is doing.”
To inspire brand loyalty and expand your brand’s reach, you need to deliver a personalized, human experience that cuts through the noise and connects with your target audience. Brands that know their customers and strive to meet evolving expectations will be the ones to win them over.
Yet, for many companies, the biggest challenge is getting started. Here’s Gingiss’ perspective on this:
“Don’t see CX as a gigantic thing you’ll never understand. It’s something you can approach every day with small continuous wins and improvements. There’s no silver bullet. It’s about focusing on the problem, listening to your customers’ needs, and addressing the low-hanging fruit one at a time.”
Build a brand your customers love.
CX legend Dan Gingiss answers all of your burning questions on how to turn customers into life-long fans in this Ask Me Anything (AMA) style webinar.