Refusing my request improved my customer experience.

Since becoming an independent marketing consultant a few months ago I have so often been asked about brand and how to build a successful brand strategy. Following this is often a question about marketing communications or the role of social media. However your marketing communications are only a small part of the story. The next stage of this is perhaps even more vital. To deliver your brand promise and great customer experience at every single touchpoint that your customer has with your business.

What a chef taught me about customer experience

A few years ago I broke my wrist. I did a fairly good job of it so when my hand was set in the cast it was positioned in the shape of a claw with no chance of fingers and thumb coming together. Previously simple tasks such as holding cutlery were, temporarily at least, out of the realms of my ability.

My birthday came and my husband kindly took me for a celebratory dinner. I ordered from the menu and as I did so asked the waiter if perhaps the chef would be kind enough to cut up my food as, for me, this particular activity was impossible. A few minutes later he returned to the table. Apologetically he informed us that unfortunately chef felt unable to do as I had asked.

Instead chef insisted that he present my dinner to me, then return the food to the kitchen for cutting into bite-sizes pieces and subsequently return my plate for a second time for me to finally enjoy.

My point? The chef had realised something that I, as the customer, had missed – that the presentation of my food was a vital part of my customer experience and the delivery of his brand promise. I’m glad he did. The result was that this was one of the most enjoyable and memorable meals that I had had in a very long time.

Customer experience is not a set and forget activity

So often marketing and branding efforts focus on bringing the customer to the point of purchase. However  you derive real brand loyalty from the complete customer experience. Delivery of much of this comes after purchase has taken place.

The best customer experiences come with unexpected touches; the small things that show you that someone has taken a little extra time to think about your customer needs. It’s these little extras that make the difference, and we remember them because so few companies take the time to do this well. Yet it is the these touches, these points of difference which drive real brand loyalty and advocacy.

Of course great customer experience isn’t a ‘set and forget’ activity. It’s not something that you can analyse once a year and think that you ‘do’ customer experience well. Improvement on this front should be a continual focus.  The way you deal with your out of hours enquiries; manage a delivery complaint or your interview process (prospective employees can be customers too). These all reflect your brand and it is only by a holistic approach that you will create the brand love and loyalty that you are looking for.

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