In recent years, the value of customer experience has come into the spotlight. And it makes sense, since it’s how your brand is fully and directly activated for your most important audience: your customers. But customer experience, or “CX,” can mean a lot of things. How is CX crafted? How can it be truly realized?
Your CX Lives in Every Interaction
The big-picture CX includes a fluid set of interactions taking place across various touchpoints. Each time you reach a customer, that’s an interaction. And a series of interactions is what creates the entirety of the experience.
While CX is made up of disparate parts, all must relate and have an authentic, consistent voice. So, ultimately, customer interactions have to be viewed both as unique instances that are context-aware, but also as a cohesive picture that makes sense when all the components come together. Therein lies the trick of mastering it: avoiding the tendency to lose sight of the forest for the trees, or vice versa. Here are 3 ways to ensure your CX remains strong in every interaction…
1. Understand what your brand looks and feels like IRL…and then realize it. In other words, the “bricks and clicks” must match.
One component that’s seeing a renewed degree of importance is the in-store experience. Everything from lighting and music to merchandising, decor, and even customer service directives all play a role in making the brand identity palpable in the retail experience.
Take Starbucks, for example. They have nailed the Starbucks vibe. The singer-songwritery playlist, dimmed lighting, signature color palette, cozy seating, voice & tone in their signage, and friendly baristas are all undeniably “Starbucks.” This level of commitment to in-store branding is integral to building a connected brand and making it recognizable from other touchpoints where interactions have occurred.
2. Digital interactions need to encourage brand recognition while remaining context-aware.
Your email marketing, social media presence, display ads, and rewards programs are interactions, too. And when there’s a sense of consistency across all of them, it becomes possible for brands to build lasting relationships with their audiences through memorable interactions that create a recognizable customer experience.
To continue with the Starbucks example, it’s easy to recognize a Starbucks advertisement thanks to the art direction and copywriting. And the rewards app is filled with the same emphasis on warmth, quality, sensory pleasures, and service. Take the name “Starbucks” away from any of these interaction moments (or even a storefront!), and you’d still be able to identify its origins.
3. Maintaining a consistent view of the customer journey is key to providing a positive experience through a series of connected interactions.
One place this becomes especially tricky is in hyper-personalized digital marketing. Due to its dynamic nature, creating a cohesive experience isn’t as straightforward when one-to-one is involved. The benefit of one-to-one is marketers’ abilities to tailor messages to highly specific profiles and contexts. We learn how to most effectively speak to specific individuals which creates a more complex messaging strategy.
With machine learning, we can hyper-target messaging to an impressive degree. But when a machine mixes up the individual it is reaching, or “forgets” an earlier interaction (i.e. advertising a product you’ve already bought) — a lot of the positive CX your brand has built up can go right out the window.
Let’s translate this into human terms. Imagine you’ve met a person at three parties, but each time, they were wearing a different wig and mask. Each time, they adopted a different affect based on the “look” they were rocking that night. Let’s say you’ve spoken on the phone with them, texted, and emailed. In each context, they evoke a different vernacular.
(Although, they have recommended the same shaving cream to you on more than one occasion.)
The interactions were nothing alike. Each time you met them, it was a different kind of experience. They might insist they “know you” …but you don’t know them. How can you build recognition and trust with an always-changing personality?
Nailing Your CX Comes Down to Rocking Every Interaction
The truth is, battles are won and lost at an interaction level. And ensuring consistent interactions throughout the entire CX boils down to a basic principle: you need a strong enough understanding of the brand essence to translate it palpably across every interaction, creating a complete, 360-degree activation.
Brands that are able to manage these components can succeed in creating a branded customer experience that is memorable and effective. Much like seeing the forest for the trees…if you can’t see the experience for the interactions, your brand (and your customers) will end up totally lost in the woods.