It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.
Organisations that forget to balance customer experience excellence with core brand purpose are at risk of becoming rudderless and forgetting the very reason for their existence, New Republique’s president, Nima Yassini, claims.
Speaking at this week’s Oracle Marketing Meetup in Sydney, Yassini said the biggest trouble he has with the pursuit for great customer experiences, is that you can’t always pander to what the customer wants.
“We talk about customer experience a lot, and I’m in the business of CX design and conversion optimisation, and that’s all about designing the best experience you can – it’s really about confidence in what you think the customer wants,” he said.
“The biggest trouble I have, and the one thing I always say to clients, is stop always pandering to customers. Have a purpose, make your brand about that purpose, and customers will come to you. Then of course give them the best experience possible.
“If you’re always changing to meet customers’ needs can create a rudderless situation for a brand where you don’t know what you are.”
If there’s one consistency about human beings and behaviour, it’s that we’re not consistent, Yassini continued. “So there is a balance that needs to be struck between customer experience design and brand – those things have to find a way of working together. It isn’t one or the other.”
As a result, Yassini said New Republique won’t even test certain things because they could have a negative long-term impact on the brand. For example, he suggested one of the no-gos for travel organisations is playing with price.
“You get a good short-term gain, but over time, customers realise what you’re doing and people are saying these guys are cheats, they’re trying to take money off us, and are trying to find that one sweet spot we will pay extra for,” he commented.
“Those things have an impact on your brand. There is a point where we’re so desirous to serve customers and increase revenues and get better ROI, that we sacrifice ultimately what our brand is. That’s a big price to pay if we don’t plan about that upfront.”
For fellow panellists and founder of creative agency, Theo + Theo, James Theophane, a related concern is how disparate channels can trigger disparate communications, leading to poor brand experience.
“I do like the idea that you have a central, core and strong idea and strong piece of comms about the product or brand that positions it well, that you can then tailor how to deliver on micro scale,” he said.
However, ADMA CEO, Jodie Sangster, said there are degrees of experience and brand adjustment that will always need to occur if organisations hope to remain relevant to their customers. And that requires teams to constantly refer back to voice of the customer insights that can help them lift their game.
“You have to be clear on who you are as a business and what you’re going to deliver, and deliver the best customer experience in that segment you have carved out for yourself,” she claimed. “Otherwise, you’re pulled in all directions and mean nothing to anyone.
“But the flip side is listening to that customer voice so you can continue to improve what you actually deliver – that’s critical.”
As an example, Sangster pointed to Starwood Hotels, which retains the core brand value of providing a fantastic hotel experience.
“The thing is, the hotel experience wasn’t fantastic, and listening to customer feedback helped them realise customers don’t like having to wait for someone to serve me at a counter, they want to get straight to their room and go to sleep,” she pointed out. “Listening to that and then changing CX to deliver on that is critically important. Be clear on what you are and make that absolutely the key to your experience.”
Yassini agreed, provided brands keep to the sphere of their brand’s core focus and offering.
“It’s about how to be the best organisation in your realm,” he advised. “Look at big data, but also note that data can tell you whatever you want it to tell you. That’s the biggest problem – it can drive you into directions that mean nothing, because there’s numbers there to prove it.
“It’s about always going back to that brand purpose.”