Brand Matters: Be the Customer
Time for another pop quiz:
- Name a brand that you feel really “gets” you as a customer.
- Name the last exceptional customer experience you had.
- Name the last time you recommended a brand to a friend based on this customer intimacy.
How hard was it to quickly answer those three questions?
Great brands differentiate themselves in many ways. But the way that will win the most hearts, minds and wallets is never forgetting that you are only in business to serve your customers.
Customers really must be at the top of your organizational chart. It’s a strategy that is applicable to all shapes and sizes of brands, from solo entrepreneurs to mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500s, and it can be applied across all industries. And yet, I find it’s one of the most underutilized business strategies around. Lip service is paid to it, but in day-to-day decision making, the customer is often not at the table—literally and figuratively. Do we really not believe that our customers matter?
Recently, there has been a campaign running at churches called “Be the Church.” It’s one of those simple but very compelling messages that encourage congregations to ask how the members are putting their faith in action. Are they just going to church week after week, warming the pews, or are they actually being the church?
Some churches actually cancel service for a Sunday and ask people to be out and about serving and helping others in need. I think brands sometimes need a “Be the Customer” campaign, an insider “brand in action” campaign that keeps everyone actively engaged in making sure that each and every decision the brand undertakes is in the very best interest of the customer. Cancel meetings and go see and experience your brand in action!
Try these “Be the Customer” exercises with your brand:
- See if you quickly can find the information you need on a particular product or service, either on your website, in your store or in your marketing materials.
- Find out how labor intensive your checkout processes are in either your stand-in-line queues or Web navigation.
- See how many buttons your voice mail system asks you to push before your questions are answered or you get to a live operator.
- Experience the difficulty of your return policy or in getting a return call.
- See how knowledgeable your staff is on issues of customer importance.
- Compare how your competitors treat you as their customer.
- See if your overall brand experience gives your customers a reason to stay emotionally engaged in your product/service/company or a reason to recommend you to a friend.
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at email@example.com.