Companies who aren’t moving their brand activity and their customer experience activity closer together are setting a course for failure.
As catastrophic as this sounds, the convergence of brand and customer experience is taking up more space in business publications like Harvard Business Review, Fast Company and Inc. It’s here, it matters and it’s not going away. The proliferation of new roles (Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer) and the expansion of traditional CMO responsibilities are further evidence.
Brand is vital, and companies must be authentic and deliberate in presenting a set of promises and values to customers. These create expectations in the minds of customers about what it will be like to work with a company. Today, the promises made and the actual experience employees or technology delivers to the customer have to be in sync. The bigger any gap, the more quickly cumulative market experience redefines a company’s brand. Customers then broadcast their own stories about who and what a brand actually is.
And so, your CX becomes your brand.
Or as Marshall McLuhan, prophet of the information age, said, “the medium is the message.” What you do will carry more weight than what you say.
My interest in the convergence of brand and CX sharpened while in a customer experience role at Gordon Food Service and serving as sponsor that brand’s refresh. The credibility of the brand shift depended on our ability to consistently bring to life the commitments we would make. So, we did two things. First, we educated the employee base, helping folks understand their role in delivering against the brand and reinforcing our story. Then, we pursued improvement and enhancement strategies to move us forward on those promises that were more aspirational.
[Side bar: it’s ok to stretch a little in your promises; just make sure you’re already on a committed path to uphold them.]
At the time, I was fortunate to work with some brand leaders who were keenly aware of the CX connection. Since then, I’ve seen a surge in the number of companies thinking about this virtuous (and sometimes vicious) circle of CX and brand. This past year, I worked with two companies on intentionally building bridges between brand values and customer experience or service principles. As a result, I’ve seen how collaborating from the start leads to better employee adoption of values and ‘the right’ customer experiences. And I’ve seen how this reinforces the brand, amplifies value and improves company performance – a benefit every company looks for.
To learn how you can help brand and CX get more closely aligned at your company, register for our March 27 webcast, Aligning Your Brand and CX. We’ll be joined by Peter Dixon, Chief Creative Officer at Prophet, an agency driving client growth through a focus on brand relevancy.