Brand promise and customer experience – how to close the gap

Brand promise and EX how to close the gap
The brand promise is a very powerful weapon, but as such it carries major risks. In this article, I will show you how a broken promise can not only make you lose a sale but, even worse, you can be handing it over to your competition. But do not despair! You can avoid it with only three key steps.

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A couple of days ago, one of my credit cards sent me an interesting promotion for the purchase of home appliances. I was just in need of upgrading our air conditioners, so I immediately prepared to make a purchase.

The selection of the products was almost a formality; I found the web page simple and with enough information about the two types of products that I needed. I find it worth emphasizing this point, since I usually find products with too much information about the seller and little, very little, about the product offered.

With my card in hand, I completed all the requested data. I was one click away from being the new owner.

Unfortunately, a big red sign changed my luck. The purchase had been declined and I had to contact my card provider.

I am going to summarize the innumerable twists and turns between (1) communication with the call center of the card, (2) new purchase attempts, and (3) communication with the call center of the seller of the product.

  1. Card´s customer service: They offered me several solutions that did not work, and then concluded that it probably was a problem with the e-commerce.
  2. New purchase attempts: Purchase rejected. Without explanation, one after another, my attempts confronted me with a cold silent screen.
  3. Seller´s customer service: New unsuccessful solutions were proposed, and I was sent back to talk to the card provider again.

In short, just like in a tennis match, I went from card to vendor and vendor to card nine times. But all my attempts were rejected. I could not make the purchase.

The offer, however, had been effective. Now I wanted, after procrastinating for months, to replace three air conditioning artifacts.

And, thanks to the benefits of the internet, I found similar prices and payment methods for very similar equipment in only minutes. With the same benefits and the same card, I finally bought the equipment I needed – but from the competition.

Does this anecdote sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, inconsistencies between the promise and what is delivered to the client are more frequent than they should be.

In this article, I will try to address three fundamental questions when guaranteeing a customer experience that meets the value proposition:

  • What is the brand promise?
  • What is the brand delivering?
  • Does the customer experience align with the promise?

What is the brand promise?

The brand promise is the value proposition that you commit to delivering to your consumer in each contact with your business. To define the brand promise, it is important to truly understand what stakeholders expect from each interaction with the brand.

The promise must be:

  • Relevant: What do our customers consider value?
  • Coherent: Are what we are, what we say we are, and what we do consistent with the value proposition?
  • Differential: What makes us unique in relation to the competition? Where can we stand out?
  • Timeless: What commitment will we always maintain with our stakeholders, beyond the changes that our current product offering or promotions may undergo?

The problem is that the brand promise is often designed by the marketing teams alone, or, in the best of cases, with the input of the sales team displayed in a presentation.

It is vital that the Marketing and Customer Experience teams talk to each other. But, also that the teams that design, produce and deliver the products -or services- take a part in the conversation. And this conversation must begin with the construction of the promise. This will be just the beginning to define a proposal that puts the customer at the center.

What is the brand delivering?

If involving the CX team in the construction of the promise is important, talking about the customer’s perception of what we are delivering is unavoidable.

However, the perspective of the Customer Experience team alone is not enough to evaluate the customer experience. We need to see things through the eyes of the customer. We need to visit the Gemba – the place where things happen – and hear first-hand the answers to the following questions:

  • What are customers saying about how and why they interact with our brand?
  • How do they perceive the experience we offer?
  • Do they see the experience as consistent across every touchpoint? (promotions, customer service, e-commerce, after-sales, etc.).

Questions like these help to understand the gap between the promise and the experience of the client. This is the starting point for identifying opportunities for improvement throughout the entire customer journey.

Does the customer experience align with the promise?

Establishing a common process and KPIs that help measure the gap between the promise and the customer’s perception is not just a task for the Marketing and Customer Experience areas.

If we want to improve the customer experience, we must start by mirroring the experience of our employees. Remember that coherence is one of the bases to build a realistic promise – it must always respond to what we are.

Some keys to improving the alignment between the promise and the experience (from the inside out):

  • Create an inspiring vision: If your employees know why they do what they do, their commitment will inevitably improve. And, surely, customers will perceive it.
  • Make your brand values ​​explicit: If your company promises agility and innovation, make sure that internal processes are carried out in this way. Translate the vision into practices and behaviors that you expect from your people, and train leaders to develop the expected competencies.
  • Frequently measure the gap between the promise and the experience of all your stakeholders: What is not measured cannot be improved.

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A promise – be it formal or informal – that is not kept can not only jeopardize current and future sales. It can even mean an investment of effort and money that your competition will cash out.

Building a relevant, coherent brand promise that differentiates you and that lasts over time is a task that will only be possible if you put the customer at the center. Establishing inter-area processes that measure the gap between what is promised and what is perceived, and visiting the Gemba, is the first step.

But do not forget that the promise begins at home. Make sure the employee experience mirrors that of the customer. Build a shared vision and define values ​​and expected behaviors.

The promise must align not only with the customer experience but also with the employee experience.

Author: Raúl Molteni

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