Let me elaborate a little here…
We all want good experiences. Period.
As consumers, we can access so much of the world across our multiple devices, within seconds and we are open to experiencing a brand instantly with the tap of a button or a swipe of the screen. In that moment, when we access you through your content, we make judgement, instantly. You need to make an impact and deliver an experience I remember, pretty quickly.
Experience isn’t just physical, it isn’t just digital, it permeates through every interaction your brand has with me as a consumer.
As a brand, you need to be putting your eyes and ears to both the digital and physical ground to capture my attention, keep it and deliver me a great experience.
Sounds like hard work? It is.
It’s hard, because not only am I judging the experience I have with you as a brand, but I am also judging it against the experiences I have with every single brand I come into contact with.
The Best Customer Experience Anywhere, Sets The Bar For Customer Experience Everywhere…
“I am the experience collector, so are you, We are all experience collectors.”
I am the experience collector. Picture the scenario and Imagine me like Mary Poppins with a big wide open bag. But, instead of pulling magical treats OUT of my bag, I’m popping experiences INTO my bag. I’m collecting them now, taking in a little here and there and then storing some of them for later, to look at when I have more time. So my ‘bag’ is open as I scroll through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I’m also storing digital content up to read later AND whilst scrolling through my digital world, I’m simultaneously walking around a store collecting smiles (or frowns) from shop owners as they give me the first taster of their brand when I walk into their store. Every single second I’m consuming experiences all at the same time from multiple brands and that all want my attention, now.
And, I can collect experiences pretty quickly, 100’s of them in just one single short hour because digitally and physically I have access to multiple interactions and multiple pieces of content that you, as brands, deliver to me every single second of the day. YOU are also an experience collector and have access to the content that brands push out every single second of the day. And, with every single piece of content I see, I make a judgement about your brand.
Sounds like Big Brother is watching you? It is! Every eye is on you, comparing you to the next experience they have with the next brand and only when you have delivered something that makes you stand out from the rest for them is when they will make a purchasing decision to buy something from you.
This isn’t doom and gloom. It may sound it, but think about this …. Right now, is actually the best time to be alive and kicking as a brand because when we are all under the watchful eye of Big Brother (AKA every single consumer) … we all have equal opportunity to raise the bar for excellent experience. Our competition (which by the way is everyone! NOT just the people and brands within your own industry) are actually our most useful tool that we have in business, because they encourage each and every one of us to become better at what we do in every facet of our business because we all want to continue to not only survive, but thrive as brands.
SO … How do you thrive in this environment?
Pepsi’s Story That Tries To Be Pepsi Doing Coca Cola Will Never Be As Genuine As Pepsi Just Doing Pepsi.
Well for starters, If you are a brand who is trying to deliver the same experience as the next brand or emulate a formula that has worked for another brand, then temporarily you may have a short burst of success. Eventually and unfortunately you will not thrive, or survive, you will die.
Why? because story, individual story, YOUR story is crucial to your success.
Pepsi’s story that tries to be ‘Pepsi doing Coca Cola’ will never be as genuine as ‘Pepsi just doing Pepsi’.
Let’s go back to those experience collectors (AKA every single consumer that comes into contact with you). If they are receiving multiple brands all giving them the same messages/content/things … (slowly but surely as it used to be, which is actually now quickly, if not instantly) they become very astute to the fact that it’s not genuine. That in fact, you are just a carbon copy of the other brand that delivered them that piece of content LITERALLY a couple of seconds before they saw your content.
You MUST be different in order to capture the attention of the experience collector, WHO, by the way, is becoming more and more astute and sophisticated DAILY as their knowledge and understanding and trust for you as a brand becomes more scarce as they explore the options open to them.
Also, Hint: Yes we live in a culture where everyone is looking to others for answers (because heck it’s hard to capture consumer attention in this world)…. but eventually, if you are only delivering a carbon copy or a blue print of what another brand is delivering, well you actually end up looking pretty lost and experience collectors are savvy and smart!
I’d rather see no content from a brand at all than the same content that another brand has delivered me! I want to see YOU. Not someone else’s version of you.
SO … where do we go from here then?
Stop Focusing On Meaningless Jargon
This is NOT about selling. It rarely, if ever is. Every sale starts with something that goes into that magical Mary Poppins bag.
Examine every facet of your brand and I mean every facet. Walk through your brand physically and digitally and think about every thing you are met with as a barrier in the road. Every barrier needs to be opened to give access to the next part of the road. Huge brand, small brand, personal brand … It doesn’t matter what category you fall within, this applies to you.
Strip back your ‘customer values’ ‘brand values’ ‘customer journey map’ ‘content plan’ and ‘marketing strategy’ for a moment and journey into what you are actually presenting not what you THINK you are presenting. Your customer doesn’t want your customer values anyway (that’s just a collective way for your brand to term everyone, as one.) What they want to know in the first instance is how much you care about them and how you create an experience for them as an individual.
All those jargon filled things can come next. If it’s crucial for your brand to have those established values internally for the brand then sure, create them… but stop wasting time there first and foremost, first of all just start with walking through everything.
Walk through every tiny aspect of your brand. Here’s a few ideas:
Are You REALLY Listening?
Have a conversation with your front of house staff, ask them what conversations they are having when they come into contact with someone. Ask them what body language they use? how do they talk? what do they say? . It’s important they don’t feel intimidated to answer ‘The Brand Way’ make them feel comfortable to be open to talk about anything. Ask them what they would change about the brand? what the business adds to their life? If there are things that make them feel positive or negative about the brand? What are those things? REALLY. LISTEN.
Repeat this with every department within your brand (of course, you can not talk with every single staff member in one go) but you can get a very good idea of what is really happening within your brand by talking with every single branch or department. By doing this you can get a really good understanding into culture within your brand and incredible insights into customer feedback from working closely with your customer related departments.
Also, don’t be afraid to talk with your customers. They will tell you EVERYTHING. Believe me. The best place to begin? (Not for the faint hearted) your customer complaints. These people gave you the privilege of complaining, they didn’t just walk away with no explanation, they complained which gives you an opportunity to learn. Re-contact them. Offer them an incentive to talk with you (I don’t just mean a product) offer them something that they wouldn’t expect … at the same time as learning, you may just give them an experience in that moment that changes how they feel about you.
Repeat the process with happy customers. Ask yourself why did they have such a different experience to the unhappy customers. Was it a product/ service issue? how they were spoken to? whatever it was, it will provide you with learning.
Examine your digital content, are you delivering the same stuff as the next person? Examine your engagement, if you are actually engaging at all. Are you engaging? or are you a billboard of advertisements and me me me?
Food or drink business? taste the food, drink the wine. Heck, why not do it with your staff? share the experience, learn together what it feels like to be a customer tasting your products.
I think you get the idea …. this is just a tiny starting point.
As you begin this process, every single day you will want to better yourself and learn more. Your staff will want to be involved because they feel cared for, your customers will want to be involved because they feel listened to, etc etc etc.
And, if you happen to be at the other end of the scale, a personal brand, then this process becomes very simple, you are questioning yourself and understanding your customers.
You could even share the process of your learnings across social media. Not for everyone, but I am telling you there is nothing people love to consume more than genuine authenticity, warts and all. Your brand discovery during this process could lead to some of the best storytelling you have ever done as a brand.
Once you really understand who you are, only then will you be able to begin to vision properly how your digital and physical experiences look. All of a sudden there will be so many ideas to create content and experiences that you won’t need to emulate the brand next to you because you will have learned so much about yourself that there will be so much more value to share.
Just A Spoonful Of Great Experiences Helps Us All To Become Better Brands.
Now let me warn you … you may get a few rude awakenings here. I have worked with many brands who were NOT prepared AT ALL for what they were about to see, hear and learn, because within a few hours you may have a ‘to do’ list as long as long as that infinite list of objects that come out of Mary Poppins bag. However, you will have a list that will actually equate change. Change equals progress, progress equals learning and only when we are prepared to really internally learn will we create experiences that are so unique to us that they can only be achieved through experiencing us, not anyone else.
No other brand can compete with a brand who is so sure that they can’t get it wrong because they have spent so much time, care, effort, understanding and learning to make sure that they get it right. Remember, ‘The best customer experience anywhere, sets the bar for customer experience everywhere’ . Is your brand setting the bar? there’s only one way to find out, START. WITHIN. NOW.
She’s a tough one to please that Mary Poppins experience collector. She is you, she is me, she is every consumer in this world. And most importantly SHE, is the KEY, the person, who will make your brand, survive, thrive or die.
Every. Experience. She. Collects. Counts.