Wikipedia defines motion as “any physical movement or change in position or place.” In which direction is your BRAND moving and perhaps more importantly in which direction are your CUSTOMERS moving?
Customer Experience is the means by which customers decide how much they love doing business with you. Your BRAND is how you decide what you want your customers to experience. In a perfect world, these two forces match; what is provided matches what is anticipated.
It is a fact that we are a world in motion – constant motion that without the great benefits of gravity would be an impossible world to occupy. Gravity’s work is done at a massive atmospheric and mysterious level. It is not something we can control, toy with, see, or touch; but we experience it every hour of every day. Business has no such protective force. Business is able to be in constant motion – slow motion, backward motion, etc. The only option not on the table is no motion! As the New Year begins, it may be a good time to evaluate where you are headed. Are you putting your BRAND IN MOTION?
Consumers today are also in motion, and I might add, just a bit weary. Weary from endless offers, specials, sales, free this or that – all accompanied by the same mediocre experience. Weary from politics, war, disaster, scandal, and the ever-present 24-hour news. Now is the time to capture a market in MOTION. Think of it as a game of “Capture the Customer.” (For those of you who grew up when kids played outside you may liken this to “Capture the Flag.”) The game goes something like this: look closely at what consumers get excited about and do more of it! Cast a wider net of effectiveness and you may “catch” the consumer in motion by putting your BRAND into action.
The definition of BRAND, as I have said a million times, has changed to include the actual experience a consumer has with your business. If I go to a fast food restaurant, it is because I want my food fast! I don’t want to sit and wait because the kitchen is behind, or the cook is on break, or my “special” order has upset the inner workings of the kitchen to the point of total collapse. When I choose fine dining, I expect the promise of the restaurant’s BRAND to be fulfilled. BRAND succeeds or fails at every touch point. From the beginning, if the fine dining host/hostess is snippy, condescending, or freaking out, the BRAND has already been damaged despite the rest of the experience meeting expectations. Some worry about exceeding customer expectations when they have barely scratched the surface of meeting them.
Is it conceivable that we have just complicated the hell out of what customers want? Or is it just complicated to deliver? Think about it for a moment. What is it that you as a consumer appreciate about doing business with a company? Be it as a consumer or as a business, it just is not that complicated. Here is my list (some of it anyway). I want a product that works. I want accurate information provided by a knowledgeable resource that utilizes up-to-date tools and technologies. I want a quick response that does not include transfers, callbacks, or delays with easy-to-navigate channels of my choice. I also want people that care, and of course, a reasonable price for the quality of the product or experience. I suppose that sounds like a lot. But what am I willing to give up? Sorry, I am not willing to lower my expectations!
If you want to play “Capture the Customer” in order to influence top line growth, assess your current customer touch points as well as your supporting back office operations. Evaluate their “motion.” Is everyone headed in the same direction?
Chaos is an indicator of what metaphorically might be the operational motion of “white water,” an operation being pulled in a million directions and winding up going nowhere. The Customer Experience in chaotic operations rarely satisfies. However, the inability of the front line to provide an extraordinary and BRANDED Customer Experience is often the result of a failure elsewhere in the enterprise. Maybe orders aren’t shipping or that hiring freeze has overburdened the folks that perform back office processes, or leadership is missing in meetings, or the billing system is old and cobbled together, or the website stinks … Don’t be too quick to shoot the messenger. Most assuredly, the front line works in an information-rich environment. It is perhaps under-utilized when it comes to customer wants, needs, and preferences. Contact Centers and others in the customer chain must find ways to provide more compelling information to the enterprise than simply how many calls came in, how many callers hung up, etc.
Here are some “requisites” for putting your BRAND in motion.
A Clear Direction – Motion in and of itself is not enough. Establish a direction (vision), a destination (strategy), and an approach (plan) that defines explicitly the desired Customer Experience. (Words like superb, WOW, superior, and memorable are not enough.) Identify the benefits of providing these to your customers and prospects. Define how to fill the casted net when opportunity knocks.
Fuel Your Sources – Motion must be fueled; nothing works when it runs on empty. Here are some critical fuel sources I have seen over the years:
- Clear direction from leadership to ALL levels
- Visible leaders providing necessary support
- Access to relevant and actionable information
- Clear and consistent communication at ALL levels
- Stable systems that actually work
- Products that are functional and worth the money
- Empowered staff that are able to make decisions and take action
- Appreciation, appreciation, and more appreciation (!)
Budget – Realistic goals are accomplished only via realistic budgets that take into account requisite human, technical, organizational, and operational resources.
Brave Voices – These are voices that speak up to executives and others. They tell them what they NEED to hear instead of what they want to hear. (Bravery is a human skill. It does not include or endorse the actions of the passive-aggressive “know it all” type – the sniper that shoots holes in what others DO.)
Listening Leaders – Engaged leaders that truly listen are a key requirement for putting your BRAND in motion. These leaders respond when the news is not so good or when difficult questions are poised. They listen with multiple senses, hear what may not be said, look for the dynamics or dysfunction, and get a taste for enthusiasm surrounding the BRAND. Listening leaders touch each and every link in the Customer Experience continuum to check for alignment. They have the ultimate sensory leadership skill … the ability to smell a rat!
The Sixth Sense – So much of building relationships and experiences depends on how people feel and how intuition plays into forging closeness with a total stranger. This is often what we ask the front line to do with our customers and prospects. When intuition is nurtured, developed, and paid attention to, it is a powerful force in providing an extraordinary Customer Experience. This puts the BRAND IN MOTION and at a very deep level.
Take some action, and of course, have some fun. After all, it is a new year! Change is a constant that never stops. You may as well enjoy the ride!
“There is nothing so stable as change.” Bob Dylan