Friday, November 16, 2012

unConference Session: Customer Experience Design as Brand Disruptor

Dave McLaughlin – Vsnap
Dave Wieneke - ISITEDesign

Dave McLaughlin of Vsnap and Dave Wieneke of ISITEDesign

It’s no longer just about products. It’s about the relationships with customers.
It’s no longer all about what brands say about themselves. It’s about what customers say about brands.

Raving, happy fans are the holy grail of your success.

Questions to consider:
·      Does a strong, positive customer experience trump paid exposure?
·   If you can give your customers an amazing experience that not only keeps them coming back, but also inspires them to share their positive brand story with others – isn’t that more valuable to brand growth than traditional advertising?
·       How does your experience deliver on your brand promise?
·   First – do you know what your brand promise is?
·   Second – does the experience you deliver live up to that promise? Are you walking the walk, or just a lot of talk?

For example, Apple’s promise:
·     Connection between the aesthetic and the engineering. The combination of the amazing visual experience and the elegant functionality that lies beneath it – form and function. “It just works." Emotional appeal – you’re cool. Value by association.

Apple owns customers’ hearts. Who else does? Other examples of brands with strong brand promises: Starbucks, Google, etc.

Google’s promise: “Every curiosity satisfied instantly”

Bringing humanity and emotional connection into the customer experience
The web makes it a challenge to keep the emotional connection with customers. Apple does it with big budgets and amazing creative. But customer experience also happens down at the grass roots level. Customer experience is a living, breathing element of your business – evolving with each interaction.

To create stronger connections and relationships, make sure you make use of your personality and how you bring the human element to your interactions.

To find the worst website in the world, Google “our solutions.” Any site with this term as one of their key terms is bound to be more focused on themselves than on their customers.

What is “Customer Experience?”
·  Consistent values
·  Consistent way of talking to customers
·  “We believe…” … “Be part of this tribe if you believe the same”
·   You know what benefit you provide and for whom
·   Unified experience for customers – always feel like you’re talking to the same company, not a sales dept and a service dept and a corporate office.

A good customer experience delivers customer loyalty, evangelism, retention, etc.

To create a great customer experience, you need a deep understanding of who you are serving and their needs.
You need a really good picture of your customer – who they are, what they need, how they interact with your brand at different touch points and how they feel about those interactions. You need to think about them as individuals, not an amorphous collective.

Two questions companies need to answer:
1. Who are you really? What do you stand for?2. How do we (company and customer) intersect? Where do my products meet your needs? Where do our values align?

It can be a challenge to get a lot of people to do one simple thing, BUT – the payoff is well worth the effort. Brands that stand for something – an ideal – typically out perform brands that are missing this element. When you can associate your brand with a value that customers identify with, they are willing to spend more, talk more, and be more loyal and evangelical.

Also, having clearly defined and internally communicated values is critical to delivering a unified customer experience. The people on the front lines – the ones who interact with your customers – they need to buy into the brand values and ethos. They need to represent and reflect that to your customers at every interaction point.

Customer experience influences on two levels:
·         Does the customer buy again, or not?
·         Does the customer tell his or her friend, or not?
(Subset: what will you tell your friend – something positive or a warning to steer clear?

Make people give a damn.

Learn how to recover from failure. Learn how to make customers happy, not just explain to customers why they should be happy with what they want.

We have the most empowered customers in the history of business – swimming in information, many options via quick clicks, opinions flow out via social networks. Turning a negative situation into an opportunity to shine is one of the best ways to improve customer loyalty.

Points of information that influence purchase decisions (McKinsey):
Know that only 1/3 of information touch points originate with the company and that number actually goes down as people get deeper into the funnel. The closer people get to purchase, the more outside opinions they will seek via peer and social channels.

Are all customers created equal?
Are you selective about your customers – only picking the ones you know you can delight?

You should be.

If you can narrow in on exactly whom you are serving, you can narrow in on what needs they have and how you can serve them. You can then craft highly targeted solutions that do delight and create rabid customers.

Don’t focus so much on your product.
Focus on the users and their needs and let that drive your products and services. If you are meeting a real need, this kind of customer-centric focus will enable you to get into and succeed in the market.

It’s not enough to be functional. You also have to make your product easy and delightful to use. It’s the difference between going out and getting merely edible food and going out and getting a meal that makes you think you died and went to heaven … and which you must tell your friends about.

Build rewards into the product:
·         Dropbox rewarding you with more storage space
·         LevelUp rewarding you with money in your account
·         Recognition for participation in brand communities (either in fifteen minutes of fame or special access to information or events, etc.)

“It’s about how you treat your customers after the sale.” --- Rupert Schmidtberg

Look beyond the initial transaction to the lifetime value of the customer.
Mindset: customer is the most valuable asset, not a combatant in a battle vs. sales or customer service.

Take responsibility for your business’ ecosystem – including all your partners and your design.

Be human. Be approachable. Be empathetic.

Follow up resource: Seven Truths for Designing Great Customer Experiences by David Wieneke

Jamie Wallace helps clients create resonant brands, standout content, and loyalty-inspiring customer experiences aSuddenly Marketing. And she makes sure they have fun doing it.
Twitter: @suddenlyjamie

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