Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.
Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Director of Marketing for Equinox in the UK, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.
Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is continuing to focus on the importance of customer experience…..
Last month we looked at the need for brands to consider their customers’ journey with a view to removing frustrations, aiming for the most seamless experience possible in order to retain business and maximise revenue.
With that being said, removing frustrations completely can be a daunting task, especially with the current pace of change and rising consumer expectations.
Keeping up is challenging. If we focus all efforts and resources on removing friction, we may miss opportunities to create peak moments for our customers; moments that offer the chance to connect on a level that transcends a glitch on the website, to build brand love that makes a difference to your bottom line.
How can brands create interactions that might help to mitigate the negative impact of CX low-points on their business?
Be customer centric
It’s hard to be thoughtful towards your customer if you don’t know much about them. This is where data can help. What are your customers’ preferences? How can you use the information you have to personalise your experience offering?
The Ritz Carlton Hotel Group often held up as a global example of exceptional service experiences, uses its CRM database to record everything about guests –– from previous issues to birthdays and anniversaries. This creates, what they call, the Ritz Carlton Mystique.
There are countless stories of guests being overwhelmed by thoughtful gestures, like a lady celebrating her birthday alone on a trip, so the front desk team organised a dinner reservation and ran a bath with petals for her after dinner, leaving a note and champagne from the hotel team. Or the gentleman who caught a large tuna fish during his stay and instead of just providing more ice for the cool box as requested, the team cleaned and filleted the fish, as well as cleaning the ice box. Small thoughtful gestures make a big impact.
Sephora, another brand that has established itself as experience leaders, recognised the confusion customers often felt when entering a store, and so introduced colour IQ, a tool utilising virtual artists to help customers find their best shade. By combining virtual tools with a robust loyalty programme and in-store make-up artists, the brand has anticipated customer needs in a way that helps people feel comfortable entering the store to shop.
Empower your employees
Loyalty programmes and CRM databases are only useful if your team is able to utilise the data in insightful ways. Your frontline employees are the best people to make a difference to a customer’s experience in the moment it’s needed, but only if they’re empowered to do so.
In 2017 Harvey Nichols managed to climb the ranks of the Which? annual rating of shopping experience at high street stores from 21st to 3rd place, an achievement it credits to a new approach to experience.
Seeing the need for CX consistency across departments, Harvey Nichols launched the Style Academy; a two-day training programme designed to empower employees to ask the right questions and give the style advice their shoppers desire. Along with its loyalty programme, the employee training helped the new strategy become embedded across the business.
Disney, a brand so committed to its cause of ‘making magic’, empowers its employees to replace dropped ice creams free of charge, or give a free shirt to a parent whose baby has been sick. If the Disney ‘cast’ had to seek approval every time an opportunity like that arose, the joy of their escapism experience would be lost.
Back to the Ritz Carlton example, the hotel group has an innovation database that its properties must use to share tried and tested ideas that improve customer experience. This database allows properties to submit ideas as well as implement suggestions from other locations facing similar challenges. This type of innovation sharing leads to the next point….
Often it’s not the monetary value, but the thoughtfulness of a gesture that has the most impact.
In its Feel Good campaign, Kleenex utilised social media to create special moments for its current and potential customers. Through social listening, Kleenex identified people posting on Facebook about being sick. The company contacted friends and family of the patients to orchestrate a delivery of get-well items including the brand’s tissues. Kleenex saw posts from every recipient, with over 650k impressions and 1.8k interactions with the brand and social users.
It’s worth giving thought to how your brand can support idea sharing across teams and locations, and introduce a little creativity in your customer interactions.
Take what’s working, and make that better
Being creative doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. In fact, it might be best to take time to review feedback and identify which efforts are having a positive impact, so you can invest in doing more.
Weight Watchers noticed a generational change from customers wanting to fix what is broken, to people wanting self-improvement and opportunities to learn. The company turned its fortune around by focusing more on becoming a lifestyle brand, but its staples of taking a flexible approach to eating and investing in the community aspect of the brand remained. The company introduced its ‘Beyond the Scale’ programme, bringing in fitness and mindset aspects, and ‘Connect’ a digital community for members to swap tips and motivate each other.
Become more than your products and transactions
As the Weight Watchers example shows, brands are enhancing their experience by giving customers more than just their products.
The word community is over-used but relevant. If you can create something bigger than your products, a reason for people to want to be connected with your brand, then the experience transcends the simple product purchase transaction.
One of the biggest brands on the planet, Apple, is a much-cited example. When you buy an Apple product, you’re buying into more than a piece of technology, you’re opening up access to groups of loyal fans and design-led stores with helpful ‘geniuses’ welcoming you into a community.
Elsewhere, Planet Fitness noticed a worrying trend for fat-shaming on social media, and in response created Planet of Triumphs; a private platform to connect its members.
Planet of Triumphs is a place to celebrate achievements and also offer motivation. The brand’s team monitors the platform looking for opportunities to add value to both its members’ and the overall experience. Through this platform, the gym-chain has become more than just a location with equipment, again showing the power of a brand community.
In summary, if a brand wants to improve its experience, it needs to become more than a focus on problem-solving. Consumers want to feel listened to and appreciated, employees want to be empowered to create peak moments, and where possible, people want to connect with a like-minded community. If you can take small steps in these directions, it will ultimately pay dividends in your customer retention and bottom line.