Customer Experience And The Zen Of Brands

In my speech at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, I discussed what it takes for companies to be good at customer experience. Customer experience excellence is not about creating magical moments with charming characters or providing Internet access and couches.  

Costco, for instance, was tied for 3rd in Forrester’s 2008 Customer Experience Index (CxPI) and took the #1 spot in the 2007 CxPi. And they achieved these results without attempting to be anything like Disney or Starbucks.

There’s no one-size fits all approach to designing customer experience. So what should companies do? Look to your brand! The reason that Costco and other firms can excel at customer experience is because they:

Consistently deliver on brand promises that resonate with customers

That statement represents what I feel is the essence of customer experience. To better understand what it means, here’s a deeper dive into the components of the statement:

  • Consistently delivering. Great customer experience is not about periodic heroic efforts. You need to design for and institutionalize repeatability, dependability, and consistency.
  • Brand promises. I write a lot in this blog about brands. Brands are more than color palettes and logos; they represent the essence of who you are as a company. Unfortunately, many firms have lost site of their brands. To deliver great experiences, organizations need to thoroughly understand the promises that their brand is making to customers.
  • Resonate with customers. At the end of the day, you need to deliver value to customers. If they aren’t interested in the promises that you’re making, then your customer experience efforts will go to waste.

The bottom line: Great customer experience is brand-specific.

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

12 Responses to Customer Experience And The Zen Of Brands

  1. Nate Long says:

    I realize this post is addressing brand rather than branding, but I think it is worth noting that certain practices help build parity between the two, such as iterating logo designs as UPS has done over the past few years. Rather than overhaul its design, UPS chose to make subtle changes (adding a gloss effect to its badge) which keep the logo up to date in the visual vocabulary of consumers. This keeps the design current without sacrificing recognition and helps to build confidence by subtly showing that the company itself isn’t losing touch with design and, by extension, shipping technology.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Nate: Thanks for sharing some of what you’ve done at UPS. Based on your comment, I actually changed the title of the post to say “Brands” instead of “Branding.”

  2. Paul says:

    Great post Bruce, and agree 100% with the ideas here. For the first point though, while consistency is absolutely required, I think you should also aim to hit your peaks. A corporate goal of ‘consistent’ service tends to have a middling effect – you aim to never over or under deliver. Companies should never value consistency over exceptional service – which is to say front line employees should never think delivering consistent quality of service is an excuse not to try and go above and beyond when the situation calls for it.

    Maybe, as you say, it’s that the processes/systems you design around delivering customer service need to be built in such a way to promote repetition and dependability, but the nature by which you empower employees to deal with customer issues needs to promote exceptional solutions when the situation demands?

    Food for thought I guess.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Paul: Thanks for the comment. I absolutely agree that you want to find places to provide exceptional experiences. Take a look at my recent post about Hyat’s new approach with “random acts of genrosity.” In that post I mention the Kano Model, which uses the term “attractive” features to describe what you’re talking about. But they will only create benefit if you can regulalry meet customers’ expectations in other key areas.

  3. Very well written post. This is some great information to remember, if an organization can provide these values to a consumer they will definitely enjoy their experience, and that will lead to WOM marketing that can provide major dividends in the future.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Promotional Products: That’s an odd name for a poster. I’m guessing that your comment was really an advertisement for your Website, but it was almost on point with the post. So I didn;t delete it like I do with most other ads trying to sneak in as a comment.

  4. Bruce,

    You message is exactly in line with what we do at Corvirtus. I would like to talk to you if I could. Thank you

  5. James says:

    Consistent delivery is one of the key to success in business. Great post.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      James: Yes, consistency is critical. Organizations need to factor that into the design of their interactions and figure out either 1) what they need to ensure consistency?; or 2) how they need to change the design so that it can be delivered consistently. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Pingback: Customer Experience vs Customer Service Experience «

  7. Pingback: Et si Ryanair était un modèle de gestion de l’expérience client ? « Marketing, satisfaction client, fidélité

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