The 9 keys to increasing customer satisfaction and brand trust.
Gone are the easy days of 50's marketing where agencies could push products into the lives of their customer with some not-so-subtle arrogant punchline and a dash of exaggerated word play. The days where competitors were few and consumers were mostly uninformed, handing over brand trust like free candy. The effect is that brands became larger than their product or service quality and the inevitable disappointment of brands was born.
Towards the 80's and 90's brands moved swiftly from their thrones of self-importance and launched the overproduced, white-smile ideal lifestyle as the big sell. They sold good feelings, not products. Although this was a step in the right direction, there was still a massive lack in basic empathy for what the average Joe Soap (the consumer) really struggled with on a day-to-day basis.
So in step the Stuyvesant high-life, Coca-Cola happiness and Nike ambassadors. You may not like the product but if [enter famous actor or sportsman] is endorsing it, it must be good. Or hey, I'd like to feel as good as those great looking folk partying on their yacht so let's fill up this deep lack I feel inside with your great product. Product advertising became a play on fear and the 'I'm not good enough' construct leaving the consumer to face yet another disappointment post-purchase. The empathy gap grew and few brands faced this problem.
“Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.” - Tony Hsieh
Things have changed. Consumers are now more informed and have become their own ambassadors, standing for a unique set of rights. God-forbid your brand or product should slant against any of these sentiments and you're dead in the water. More than ever, marketing is now about responsibility and conscious play. Brands need to consider their active ingredients, their environmental footprint, keep a sense of strong humility and speak to a higher philosophical cause.
With the growth of online exposure, our competitors have moved from being local enemies to a global stadium of threats. Most brands cannot even truly distinguish who their true competitors are because services and products that seem innocent or unconnected could kill your business via 'death by a thousand cuts'. Meaning they slip in as an unnoticed, unrelated small vice and leave with your profit. It sometimes happens so slowly that by the time you've figured it out, your offering is no longer relevant or wanted.
Empathy is the only way through. Brands that adopt this value will remain agile, relevant and profitable no matter the movements of industry or the shifts in market. One thing that will always remain constant is the list of basic human needs we all share as consumers (and people), e.g. to be happy, to feel secure, to feel included or to get further in life. When your business can assist with one or more of these basic needs, allowing your customer to feel a sense of relief, then you're in business!
Create positive experiences, not empty promises. Find a purpose to fulfil in communities. Become known as the brand that listens, that models products on the needs of their customer and that soothes the daily war on stress with a balm of relief and reliability.
We live in an i-generation mentality where consumers are only interested in the quickest, most efficient ways to gain value. The sooner your business aligns to this truth and leaves the old mentality of arrogance, monopoly-thinking and being the hero, the quicker you'll see a turn-around in brand trust and sales.
So how do we do this? Follow these simple, yet not always so easy, steps and you'll already be 80% there.
Create experiences that create a positive escape or support for your customers
Develop an efficient and quick feedback loop in order to remain relevant
Start every new project or product scope with customer inclusion
Turn your customer into the hero, not your product
Find a common cause that is important to your target market and provide value
Focus your marketing message on how your product supports their basic needs
Simplify all customer touch-points and eradicate any efforts of engagement
Develop consistent engagement platforms with your customer to drive value
Find and reward your natural every day brand ambassadors (customer fans)
“The key is when a customer walks away, thinking ‘Wow, I love doing business with them, and I want to tell others about the experience.’” - Shep Hyken
There are hundreds of ways to create a positive customer experience. The above is just a taste. The main insight to take away is that your brand, product or service is NOT the hero. Your customer is the hero. Shifting just this one mental construct, along with all operational and strategic action to support this, will be enough to take your business to the next level.
Who is Simone Berger?
Founder of Univation, Simone Berger spent 15 years within the Entertainment Industry. She headed up or supported the marketing for well known brands such as SABC1, FOX, Dreamworks, Cell C Black and Kwesé. Her passion was to connect viewers to their most-loved shows.
Utilising the seven-step formula of storytelling, Simone supports brands, across all industries, to cut through the noise, capture the attention of their customers and increase sales with ease.
She's passionate about giving value, and always open to a coffee or chat. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 84 7778870.