Frictionless or homogenous? Assuring brand personality lives on in your CX

Anna Karena
By Anna Karena | 4 March 2020
Anna Karena

Anna Karena is CCO of CX Lavender.

Too many customer experiences lack brand personality, and that has a lot to do with the separation of CX optimisers and brand custodians, writes Anna Karena. It’s time to bring the two together and bridge the experience gap.

CX that walks what your brand talks.
Brand. Those who get it, know it’s not necessarily logical. Why buy an Audi for $20K more than a VW when they’re actually the same cars with slightly varying dashboards? Why does a plain t-shirt suddenly become more desirable when there’s a little tick-shaped swoosh on the front?

The brand believer divide.
As a self-confessed brand-sucker, it’s hard to believe that there are people who are cut of a different cloth: mathematical, logic-loving left-brainers, who are sometimes less likely to fall for, or care about, the illogical allure of brand.

I met a bunch of the brand-benign when a creative business I was working for integrated with a digital transformation consultancy, where most of the staff were deeply technical and powerfully brainy nerds, no more likely to waste money on a piece of Nike-branded cotton, than they were to stop dreaming in binary. As I pranced around in my Saint Laurent spikes, they wore their square-toed bargain brogues. One of them expressed that my role, as they understood, was to make things ‘beautiful’. That was their impression of what people who care about brands do.

We found ourselves forced into learning each other’s foreign ways, and I gained insight about why so many customer experiences, whilst frictionless and customer-tested to a tee, are less brand-distinctive than perhaps they could be, if the dreamers and the digital transforma-tists finally found their fusion.

Impacts of the first decade of Digital Transformation (DT).
About a decade ago, bread and butter of DT businesses was taking the world’s first round of clunky old websites and ‘digitally transforming’ them. Establishing a bunch of optimisation processes and tools was the highest priority, with the aim of making clients’ websites and apps more effective: quicker at running customers through order forms and online check-outs, less likely to cause annoyance, and ever more likely to ring client tills.

Also highly saleable were on-the-fly online testing and CX optimisation services. In the DT agency I worked in, the most profitable team in the business were the consultants who handled the CX optimisation work. They’d take page after page of our clients’ websites, move a few CTAs around, launch an online test and see what happened. The most hard-working version won, and the client would ring in extra sales.

As an ex-agency girl, I noticed that the CX optimisers didn’t use copywriters, or if they did, only very occasionally. The first brief from them to my team for a writing job, I’ll never forget – it read: three hours please! Where’s the prop? What’s the tone of voice?! Usually, the same Optimisation Managers making the page changes, who also took the client orders, would write the CX copy. It was a ‘pick anything out of your own proverbial, pop it up and see which one the customer responds to’ kind of system.

Homogenous processes, samey CX.
It dawned on me that no one trained in, or thinking about brand nuance, had any role in the CX transformation team’s processes. In collaboration with the customer and their behaviours alone, the output was measured and created purely on effectiveness. And then I noticed another thing. Despite working on a number of clients’ brands, every online CX they created, was largely the same as the last.

Letting the organising idea in.
All brands have a uniting feature: an organising idea. My work over the years has had me brush close shoulders with brilliant brand designers whose teachings have been about the simplicity and purity of that. Every brand our teams work on has one, as will be true of other businesses who look after the CX side of well-managed and lovingly cared for brands.

However, there is an ongoing working reality that’s a big nut to crack: how do we let the brand believers and custodians snuggle close to the engineers of CX, so that brand nuance can come through, reaching customers in the ways they feel most deeply? How can brand personality imbue the voice on the phone-call, the personality in the CTA, the sparkle in the customer journey that makes the customer feel the brand they’ve chosen to deal with at every touch?

Local pack leaders. Who knows some?
Brands I admire who are walking the talk:

• Woolies. Fresh Food People.
They fill your online basket when you’re looking up dinner recipes with programmatic and retargeting that puts their fresh food on your table.

• Huddle insurance. Bot-powered insurance, so you can switch off.
They’re bot-powered and give you AI-powered characters all through their forms and fulfillment who alert you to savings and throw excess loopholes in your face so you feel fully chilled about their service.

Who else has encountered CX that walks its brand talk? Let me know.


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