This is the era of personal brands. From LinkedIn to Twitter to Instagram, you can define your own unique niche and specific value to stakeholders, finding creative ways to deliver on the experiences promised by your brand. To craft just such an experience, you can select which platforms to use and customize the interaction based on the individual nature of each platform.
Too bad there are no such filters in the real world.
If you’re crafting more than a personal brand—if you’re building the brand of a business—then you do not have the luxury of a filter. When a customer walks into your store, they will have a unique personal interaction with an employee. This interaction defines their customer experience (CX) and there is only one chance to make that first impression.
Making unfiltered CX work
Your customer’s experience will be raw and uncensored, so embrace that moment with the right preparation, training and planning. Focus on creating an operational culture where the customer experience is consistent in each and every store. And be sure to deliver consistently across each and every channel—from the website to the app to the environment of a fitting room.
The experience you create should reflect the core of your brand identity. The perception you’re building in the minds of consumers should be fulfilled when they are interacting with one of your channels. To accomplish this, there are four things to keep in mind:
1. Table Stakes
Always remain a skeptic when you’re trying to decide if your company is providing a fulfilling customer experience. Constantly evaluate the basics such as store cleanliness, inventory display and staff courtesy and make sure everything is performing up to par before you do anything else.
2. Engaged Employees
Be clear in the guidelines you give to employees, so they know exactly when, where and how to engage with customers. Give them tips on how to start the conversation, but also encourage them to be themselves. Employees that allow their natural personality to shine through will be able to deliver a customer experience that is much more sticky and effective. Consider incentives that encourage this type of relaxed and nurturing behavior.
In the 21st century, it’s natural for you to want to demonstrate a certain tech savviness, but you should never deploy technology for its own sake. Only deploy technology that is helpful, engaging and reflective of your brand. Online apps need to be user-friendly and provide customers with options. You may even consider offering the opportunity to experience a product in a physical store before a purchase, similar to theNordstrom model.
4. Be Memorable
Whatever brand experience you promise to customers, it must be presented pleasantly and must also be strong enough to be memorable. You’re not only looking for loyalty from that customer; you also want to provide an experience that was impactful enough that they want to spread the word. “Likes and shares” are great in social media, but they are even more powerful when they happen in the real world.
Mystery shoppers provide feedback without the filter
With so much on the line during a first impression, we using mystery shoppers to interact with the customer experience as consumers would. They can come to your brand through various channels and gut-check from every angle. They can enter a store and look for the basics, engage with employees and store technology, and then provide detailed reporting on just how memorable your customer experience really is. With the confidence afforded by those assessments over time, you no longer need to worry about a customer being jarred into a negative perception due to circumstances that you can never filter, but can—and should—avoid at all costs.