Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, says, "Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room." The best way to control that narrative is to have a quality branded experience your customers can count on, after all, you've worked hard to establish your brand. It's what tells your customers: "This is the unique thing we do that nobody else does." It sets you apart from your competitors and, in the customer's mind, expresses why you're the best at what you do (the only one that does what you do).
Your brand and the experience you offer your customers are intimately related. This may seem a bit of an oversimplification, but the brand sets the tone for the overall experience. It is instrumental in setting expectations … a key part of the experience. The actual experience should live up to the expectations set by the brand.
Take the example of a restaurant: Its website makes it look wonderful and it has rave reviews on online review sites. Everything about the brand sets the expectation for the customer that they're going to have a great dining experience.
But if the actual dinner is a train wreck and the restaurant isn't anything like it was represented to be, you've created a terrible customer experience. The brand sets the tone and makes the promise, but the experience has to deliver.
How Do You Know If Your Brand and Experience Are Consistent?
Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell whether or not you're delivering a branded customer experience. The best way to find out is to rely on feedback from your customers. They will certainly let you know if you're not delivering on your promises. Voice of the Customer (“VOC”) is also an important metric in the customer experience space.
Here are a few things you can do to help ensure that you're living up to your brand image:
- Make sure that all employees and managers understand the brand well and how to communicate it. In other words, make customer expectations clear. Create protocols to ensure that your employees are providing the right customer service.
- Hire for alignment. Building and maintaining a strong brand starts inside your existing culture. It’s essential to ensure that all associated parties, employees/team members, partners, and ambassadors, understand what your brand stands for, and are motivated to act in accordance with this understanding. It may take a bit longer to find good people to onboard, but once done, they are likely to stay with you longer.
- In your research, try to find out what your customers feel about not only your brand but for your competitors' brands as well. By comparing you with your competitors, you can more easily see which areas are your natural strengths; in other words, the areas where you're delivering a branded customer experience.
- With your brand in mind, brainstorm a list of every touch point you have with customers and make an honest assessment of whether or not you're conveying your brand at each point. This process is called Journey Mapping, and it is crucial to a brand’s longevity and success.
Monitoring your brand and customer experience is ongoing, so make it a regular part of your routine. Keep gathering and analyzing feedback so that you can refine your processes and implement the necessary changes.