We all know what a customer experience (CX) is. To many, it is the holy grail of marketing metrics. Yet I think as important as the CX may be, of greater importance overall is the view, the big picture, of the brand experience (Bxp).
Am I splitting words? Not really. Are the terms interchangeable, or are they something very different? As with many things in life and marketing, the view, your point of view depends on your position on the hill.
Let’s start with a few online definitions. According to Wikipedia, “Customer experience (CX) is the product or products of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship.” Forrester Research defines “customer experience” as: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” In contrast, an online definition of “brand experience” argues it is “a brand’s action perceived by a person. Every interaction between an individual and a tangible or intangible brand artifact can be seen as a brand experience.”
i-SCOOP: ‘All parts of your organisation and ecosystem need to be connected and aligned with the optimisation of customer experience(s) as the drivers of revenue’
Are they the same or different?
To me, the “customer experience definition” sounds strategic, while the “brand experience” definition sounds operational. As with any plan or program, the key to deployment is the tactical, and that is what we are missing here – hence the title of this article.
I think we need to join these definitions in order to develop a tactical definition. Since the CX and Bxp are, in my view, results of a tactical interaction based on the operational effectiveness of the marketing strategy and the direction provided by the corporate strategy of the brand—a more tactical meaning must be developed. I cannot understand how anyone can portray a customer experience or brand experience as such without including the media – the tools that are the heart and soul of a marketing effort.
Why is this joining of CX and Bxp important?
Every interaction, or the chronological order or sequence in which the dialogue and engagement begins, is critical to achieving the end result. The strategic plan assists in carrying out this phase:
– The operational segment brings the strategic aspect of the plan into plan
– Contact with the consumers or customers opens the door to gain closeness with the final goals of the brand
– Tactical elements “gain” the end result; a sale, interaction, or action, which is in part based on a successful reaction to the messaging and touch points provided by the brand
When does the CX/Bxp begin?
Long before a CX or Bxp can take place, a relevant “hook” needs to be messaged between targeted demographics or between the individual and the brand. For that reason, a big part of the ‘why’ to me involves the experience you expect the customer to have while at the brand and when and how you start that experience.
CMO Council: ‘According to a new Microsoft study, marketers are de-prioritising digital campaign metrics in favour of business-focused metrics’
There are at least three tiers contained within the action of B2C (and B2B) purchasing; the pretail, the retail, and post-sale. Infact, there are more stages that need to be considered. There must be, at the brand level, a pretail to the pretail—a planning stage that starts to examine the message, content, context, tools, media used, value of that media, and the deals offered that now in our very personalised experiential world must be as seamless, direct, responsive, personal, and experiential as possible. And each stage must be carefully measured as well.
As a marketer, I would prefer the Bxp vs. the CX for a variety of reason. The first and perhaps foremost is the method in which I define the order of the customer interaction with the brand. The interaction means I have the foundation of an experience once the dialogue has begun. This engagement stage can be developed and should result in a positive brand experience, which will lead to a satisfied customer. Am I splitting words or definitions? Maybe. But subtle differences can reveal a critical aspect to develop and understand. In many instances, these differences are at the core of why a marketing effort succeeds or fails.
I recommend to my clients that the brand or customer experience begins when the messaging is being developed. In today’s active world of big data and personalisation of the message, content and context will significantly impact your customers’ experience and the overall brand experience.
Is the digital customer experience valid as a customer experience?
You have heard it over and over: customer experience is critical, it is the only thing, and it is the future. All of these statements are most likely true. I saymost likely true since the advertising/marketing/promotion segments are undergoing such massive changes that I am not longer sure if anything we are thinking of today (except what I wrote, of course) will have a valid use or be valid in the future. Disruption is just actually beginning and will accelerate at a fated rate as the economy tumbles.
Harvard Business Review: ‘What reduced satisfaction was something few companies manage – cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time’
Whether you develop a digital or integrated or legacy program, the “experiences” you are touched by and that your customer/client “feels” is critical. It seems that digital tools and digital media alone may be counter to the needs of the customer experience but still support the brand experience due primarily to the impact on marketing spend or budgets.
Digital tools as standalones seem, from the reams of data and studies I view, to be losing some of their power and slowing down. All media eventually loses impact and slows over time. The key is to keep the combination, the convergence, the value of the media, and the integration of ALL media, channels, and tools linked to the common goal—the CX or Bxp, or perhaps the newly defined term that combines the two?
When does the customer experience/brand experience begin and end?
Where does your CE begin? What touch point do you consider to be the CE starting line? Does it begin at the product query, a visit to your website, a visit to a brick-and-mortar location, an interaction with your personalised sales staff? Where and when?
My experience indicates that the CX/Bxp begins long before the contact. The touchpoint is activated, and the CX/Bxp begins, long before the client even enters your brand personalised engagement zone.
The perfect touchpoint begins when you are developing the message, the content, and the context that will define and illustrate your brand and introduce the products and/or services being offered. Using this planning stage as the entry point also serves as a route map to not only a sale, but also to customer engagement and satisfaction. It can also provide a base for the much needed analytics and metrics that are an integral part of your marketing effort.
I think your messaging, content, and context offers a triad of potential, but even more importantly the touchpoint serves as the starting line. It begins with an understanding of who your customers and clients are.
Yes, you will still need to measure all the clicks, posts, shares, views, and visits, but why not think of targeting your CX/Bxp based on the tools available to the modern marketer, and even more importantly to the targeted market you have selected?
Media value and use changes based on the generational view of the media or tool. Your customer/brand experience needs to change as well.
If you clearly define the CX/Bxp expectations based on the demographics of your segmented markets and define your marketing plan based on an in-depth understanding of those demographics (their needs, the media they find of value, and the seamless responsiveness of your action-based tools), you will build a business that is strong and somewhat immune to negative economic conditions.
Ampersand Mobile: Almost half of consumers surveyed had been given a poor mobile experience by brands, with one in three either being irritated or moving elsewhere as a result
The perfect result of your reading this article is to develop a better, combined CX and Bxp. When combined the results provided a greater in-depth view of your brand, your customers and the experiences that they have shared – the operative word.
If at any time in the history of CX and Bxp, this is the time to think change and jump way ahead of your competition. Consumers are connected to more media, via more platforms, more touch points then ever before. Link that to the five interactions prior to a purchase and you have, as they say, a perfect storm; in this case perfect weather to make this happen.
The data you gather should be able to develop a fine tuned new business effort, based on products, services, benefits and testimonials. From where you sit on the hill, what do you think?