“Close the door!” you feel yourself shouting at some unsuspecting person. It happens again, that moment when you’re sat in a cafe, bar, or restaurant while someone absorbed in their own world or a conversation with another breezes through, and oblivious of everyone else leaves the door open, the door that leads outside, that lets the wind and noisy world in. It happens once, it happens twice, then again …. and then you start to see the frustration and hackles of those who have to repeatedly bob up and down to close ‘the f***ing door’. I witnessed it today in a small deli-cum-cafe, and it reminded me of numerous similar incidents when relaxed people enjoying a meal, or a coffee and cake with their mates transform into wound-up, red-faced monsters ready to attack the next oblivious irritant.
Such an observation may appear trivial to many, however it’s not to those people who take the responsibility of creating a desirable customer experience seriously. The ‘door scenario’ highlights how a simple, unrectified niggle can impact hugely on the customers experience of those involved, potentially creating embarrassment, annoyance, and the possibility of a customer not returning. Attending to such a detail and managing environments where differing customer agendas, behaviours, and requirements are both accommodated and seamlessly met is a mixture of artistry and science.
The metaphor of the door is a simple one, which highlights the responsibility of the cafe owner to manage the physical environment, logistical flow of customers, facilitate transactions, meet their customers’ expectations, by providing great food, drinks, and creating an atmosphere that will make those customers want to return. And maybe even share their satisfaction with others through taking selfies, posting them on Instagram, sending a tweet, or checking in with foursquare.
Ensuring all the elements of business, touchpoints, and customer interactions are joined up to deliver a coherent, effective market proposition proves to be a challenge for even the most sophisticated organisations employing thousands. Getting the customer experience right can be dismissed by some as a ‘nice to have’, but in today’s digital world an integrated customer experience has to be central to its business strategy and is essential for survival. As Angela Ahrendts, departing CEO of Burberry recently stated “…. to any CEO who’s sceptical at all, you have to create a social enterprise today. You have to be totally connected to everyone who touches your brand. If you don’t do that I don’t know what your business model will be in 5 years.” It’s a beautiful sight to behold when all these elements come together. Burberry have proved the commercial essentialness of a strong business model centred around a fully connected customer experience offering. It strengthens resilience when facing challenging conditions across international markets and meets the demands of the financial community and shareholders.
Managing to deliver a valued customer experience requires your brand experience to build upon the insights drawn from multiple data sources in realtime. The 5 key aspects of the brand experience should be integral to joining up all areas of the delivery. As Veb Anand of Brand Union points out , brand experience goes beyond just touch points, it’s the impact a brand continues to make on the experiencer, how it resonates with their values, attitudes, and the way it complements the aspirations and disposition of the customer.
Being able to respond and adapt to changing customer requirements, while remaining robust enough to maintain a strong identity and purpose, is the challenge many brands now face. They are exposed to the onslaught of social interaction and now being judged across increasingly diverse online and offline, physical spaces. Considering customer experience as a ‘flower’ that requires nurturing might not be a bad idea, an adornment that many CEOs would be proud to present their shareholders and customers.
In Part 2 – What is Dior doing in Dubai? What more can Burberry teach us?