Davy Rennie is managing director at Tribal Australia.
Australian customer experience is at a crossroads. Whilst we see some amazing new products and services from brands, an overwhelming majority only deliver ‘OK’ experiences for their employees, consumers, and users.
Beyond fairly basic NPS scores, there isn’t a trusted metric, ranking or consistent source that truly defines an exceptional customer experience. It’s no wonder that so few brands truly seem to deliver exceptional when there is little to hold them to account. Where experiences are good, they are at best easy and effective- but when it comes creating an emotional connection beyond basic recommendations, very few hit the mark. Without emotional connection, it’s almost impossible to foster the deep trust required to build a strong and sustainable brand. Through that lens, emotional connection isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a business imperative.
A promise made and kept
When a brand is launched, it makes a series of promises: to employees, to customers and users about what to expect from them as a product or service. Successful brands are those that keep those promises. But over the medium to long term, it’s incredibly hard to keep them - especially when you consider that those expectations are not just judged through the lens of your experience, but judged on the benchmark someone has with any service or product used at any point in time. Effectively, the last best experience someone has, anywhere, is now their base level expectation for everything.
Sounds hard, right? It is. That’s why we need to make experiences more sticky, more engaging and something that people can use fluently and without further consideration.
For example, when you think about food delivery services, they all offer the same service, give or take. But you probably favour one over the other. Maybe one has a slight price advantage, a more appealing presentation of the food on offer, or a link to the profile and loyalty benefits of the app you use to get a ride to work. Small hooks can create a major advantage
A promise is worthless unless it turns up in the experience and validates that emotional connection. It’s more than a few words that express what you will bring to people’s lives- it’s what you demonstrate through your actions at every single touch point. It should guide every decision you make when designing your customer experience - defining what you will do, and in some cases, choose not to do.
Unlocking emotional connection with creativity
It’s easy to fall in love with something that is easy to use. The same can be said for falling out of love with it when something new and improved comes along.
Creating the emotional engagement required for true loyalty is a team effort, requiring both the skill to unlock true human insights and the craft to solve for them creatively. But creatives are more often than not missing from large scale transformational experience programs. You’ll generally see a design team, led by UX or Product, with a bunch of really smart, insightful, curious and methodical teams delivering products that are judged on ease and effectiveness.
But rarely do we see a true creative presence in those teams pulling apart the rational and moulding it into an outcome that is unexpected, differentiated and truly capable of delivering the promised ROI in the form of increased brand preference and share.
We talk of surprise and delight; these are the team members to do that. The art of creativity and the science of UX are equally important ingredients in the glue of emotional stickiness. It’s how you think beyond the basics of frictionless experiences and start building a deeper appeal that is more sustainable and more profitable.
Benchmark on their terms, not yours
Research generally considers adjacencies and focusses on your direct competitor set. That’s got merit - we can see what we are up against, but the true scale of our challenge for experience supremacy isn’t against our competitors alone. It’s the apps, products and services we engage with every single day.
You paid for your Uber without having to grab your wallet: That’s what your grocery shop is being judged against. Your butcher knows your name and recommends a way to cook a new dish: That’s the competition for your restaurant experience. These principles of service and behavioural cues are what shapes our entire experience with all brands.
The data-experience value exchange
The inevitable doom that awaited cookies is now upon us, and big tech brands are helping expedite this change with big upgrades to their operating systems and policies.
All brands will now have an opportunity to add immediate value to the brand experience when employees, consumers and users are prepared to give you their golden nuggets of data.
The opportunities are amazing in this new world. Personalisation can now be even more meaningful and affect the experience someone has in noticeable and real-time ways. But to capture this opportunity, brands will need to go to new sources, tech and partnerships to understand the real lives of consumers and the societal, environmental and personal factors that make us all unique.
Tracking consumers across your brand entire experience will now be mission critical. That means in store, app, online, email and social. And where consent is now required, the value exchange needs to be clear and immediate.
The Tribal Total Experience model is designed to address the needs of brands today by bringing the brand promise and customer experience together on the common ground of emotional advantage.
We do this by giving creativity, technology and human insight equal seats at the table. And we give brands the emotional connection that makes their experiences sticky, fluent, easy, and effective.
As a result, products, services or tools are never created in isolation. By linking everything we build to the promises brands make, we ensure that they go to market with depth and credibility – without which trust and growth cannot be achieved.
Whether you’re an employee or a customer, every experience is a promise made, and kept.