There has been much discussion about the importance of customer experience these days. Whether you're a bank, hotel, airline, restaurant, retailer or other service business, how your customers experience your brand makes all the difference.
The "Experience Economy" has become the new battleground thanks to value propositions that are increasingly more commoditized. Perhaps more importantly, it provides companies with a way to justify premium pricing as a differentiator in the eyes of customers.
But where does brand fit in here?
Uniting Brand, Marketing and CX
I often see customer experience and brand operating in separate silos. CX often falls under operations and brand is almost always under the marketing function. In most cases, this means brand and marketing get all the glory...and the budget that goes with it.
CX practitioners often work on a shoestring budget compared to their marketing colleagues, they operate with much smaller teams, and don’t always have a seat at “the table”. But isn’t the customers’ experience with a company part of, if not everything that a brand is?
Companies spend millions of dollars every year telling the story of their brand: what it’s like to stay at their hotel; how you'll feel when you shop at their stores; how passengers are treated on their airlines...everyone is always smiling and happy. This is how the marketing team works to set expectations about what you will experience as their customer.
Following Through With Expectations
But what will happen when people bite the bait and buy into your promise by booking that room or scheduling that flight? Will they experience the jubilation that we show them over and over in our ads, or will there be expectation gaps? How well we deliver against their expectations now falls on the customer experience team (and thousands of front line staffers).
Has marketing set up expectations that the organization can even deliver? How is feedback fed back into the company and is that feedback capturing the things that actually matter most to the customer?
The importance of brand, marketing and customer experience working together is critical.
Companies Leading The Pack
I have seen some great examples of this over the year. Home Depot, for instance, is a company that gets it. Their ability to set and deliver against brand expectations is impressive.
In 2017 they were named one of Fast Company's 50 most innovative brands, and have been working alongside the Innovation Center at Georgia Tech to build efficient and seamless processes for customers in-store and through their app.
Starbucks is another company that understood early on that their business was more than just coffee; they invited customers to experience Starbucks.