Is there such a thing as Branded Customer Experience?

branded customer experience

Loyalty is one of the most common human behaviors. We are expected to be loyal to our group, school, football team, etc. In fact, not being loyal to your country can attract the severest penalties. But this isn’t something that worries us usually, in fact very much the opposite. Feeling loyalty to these things gives us comfort and feelings of support, security, and belonging – because others are also loyal to these things. In the retail world, this affinity for loyalty has been evident in the popularity of brands and how customer brand experience has been built upon to generate a customer base that preferentially sticks to that brand rather than experiment with alternatives.

In the 21st Century, everything seems to move faster and be less stable, so suppliers have to work hard at preserving that loyalty to the brand and in building brand loyalty by improving the customer experience – generating a good experience that customer will associate with the brand and so preferentially stick with it long term. One good indication of a commitment to a brand is when a customer might say, ‘We need to buy more Budweiser’ rather than ‘we need to get more beer.’ That isn’t because there is something inherently better about Budweiser. The same might be heard about Heineken, Carlsberg, and many more. Instead, it shows that the brand has become an entity in its own right, and customers feel (probably unconsciously) committed to it.

Branded Customer Experience: Not just retail

While we are most familiar with brands in the retail environment – many of us will have favorite beers, cosmetics, supermarkets, cars, and much more – the idea of building brand loyalty by improving the customer experience is by no means restricted to these. Even internal suppliers now routinely generate a brand approach to their operations. It is very common to see, within large companies, the IT or HR department adopting their own name, slogan, logo, etc., and working hard at brand love customer experience techniques to make and keep that brand healthy and prominent in their customers’ minds. By the way, this isn’t new. I know of a UK Government department in the early 1980s whose internal procurement and warehousing division put time, effort, and resources into building a recognized brand: Supply & Transport. There were lorries with logos, newsletters, training programs, and so on. It worked in building direct loyalty to that brand and generating trust in them as suppliers.

Making it happen

There are a range of customer experience techniques and mechanisms that can help suppliers to build and then – crucially – to maintain that degree of commitment and affection. Effectively, the need is around customer experience/brand alignment – making sure the brand characteristics and promises reflect the customer experiences – and vice versa. If properly shaped and presented, the brand strategy will indicate the kind of customer experience to be delivered; the customer experience strategy will help shape the brand and deliver it. And the actual customer experience enjoyed (or not) will determine what that brand means in the mind of the customer. Seeing them as synergistic elements that support and feed each other is a key first step in generating a branded customer experience.

Some of the key techniques used by organizations successful in this space are:

  • Names and logos – As mentioned in the earlier example, creating an identity is essential. Think about some entities that generate the highest loyalty, Manchester United, Blue Jays, Lakers … they all have a consistent image, logo, attitude, etc. that ties their fans in.
  • Make it relatable – The customers should feel comfortable with the brand, which fits them and their attitudes and culture. So, it should reflect what matters to the customer in the context of what is being supplied, like a police force emphasizing protection or an IT company promoting innovation.
  • As personal as possible – The digital age has delivered the chance for suppliers to be ultra-focused on the individual. It is (relatively) easy to get access to each customer’s past orders, reviews, and so on. Additionally, suppliers can now reach a vast array of personal information about browsing history, locations visited, and (perhaps worryingly) much more. Used constructively, this can tailor the brand presentation to each customer – or at least each category of customer – and make them feel an even tighter affinity and loyalty.
  • Be reachable and listen – Loyalty is good, and it can be built on but needs maintenance. Again, the 21st Century allows instant access and communication with customers like never before. A complaint made by a customer on their Twitter account can be noticed, investigated, and resolved in minutes – and this can be done visibly so that a wide range of customers can see how caring the supplier is.
  • Educate and involve – Your customers know what matters to them, so find out from them. A brand should be inclusive, allowing the customer to feel they are part of something bigger and better than a simple business transaction.

Summary

Your efforts in building and delivering customer experience are what generates happy customers who want to stay buying from you. That loyalty can be focused and managed via a brand identity that serves as a kernel for broader experiences to grow and feed on. Generating and maintaining a brand requires time and effort but will be worthwhile for most organizations, whether they are in a traditional commercial transactional relationship or if they are internal providers.

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Terry Brown

Terry Brown

Terry is an experienced product management and marketing professional having worked for technology based companies for over 30 years, in different industries including; Telecoms, IT Service Management (ITSM), Managed Service Providers (MSP), Enterprise Security, Business Intelligence (BI) and Healthcare. He has extensive experience defining and driving marketing strategy to align and support the sales process. He is also a fan of craft beer and Lotus cars.