I have been manifesting the second draft of this article for over two weeks now, but y’all should have told me that that is not how manifestation works. I practiced journaling. I practiced positive thinking; you know, I uttered all the positive affirmations that I could afford and trusted the universe. Sadly, that did not work. I thought that I had lost my manifestation power [as if I had any], and wanted to get my chakras checked for imbalances but I realized that that concept [of chakras] was too abstract for me. Those that understand the art of manifestation, how is it practiced? I am convinced that no matter how well you focus your emotions, no matter the degree of optimism you have if you do not put in work; manifestation is just a glorified wish. What did I expect anyway? Thinking my way into writing an article sounds a tad ridiculous. My journey towards understanding manifestation has been an experience. But that is not the experience I am going to write about; at least not today. Now that we have an idea of what CX is and how to go about it [https://gacherimburugu.medium.com/building-customer-experience-50ba5a14acd5], why should we care? And what next after you have delivered an exceptional experience to your customers?
Why should you create positive feelings towards your brand? You know, those feelings that build an attachment to your brand? Those feelings that make them choose you every time? Well, if your customers feel better elsewhere, aren’t they more likely to leave. Unless you are a monopoly, competition is a constant driver. Often than not, I read articles and tweets advising entrepreneurs that they should focus on what they have to offer their customers. It leaves me wondering, how do you know what you are up against if you ignore what your competitors are doing? How will you truly know why your customers like you; and consequently, better that which makes your customers choose you? If your customers like you because every time they contact you there is always someone who responds with authenticity, you can identify that especially when your competitor’s customer service is otherwise. You can establish it to be your strength.
Secondly, consumer values and preferences are rapidly shifting now more than ever. Are you able to capture their values? Do you understand their preferences? Does your product align with their values and preferences? Are you able to anticipate them? Are you able to segment your consumers according to these values? Do you understand how this contributes to brand positioning? Yeah, I know I sound like those overly critical people who shout out what is wrong without attempting to explain what should be done. Understand what your consumers’ values are. Design your product with them in mind. I commend companies that serve the Gen Z and millennial market… better yet, the xennials. Haha! This is a market that majorly comprises people whose values and preferences are changing every waking minute. Their loyalty is constantly changing. What makes this market happy is inconsistent. Hey big data analytics, can we rely on you help us figure out this market?
One minute they are all about companies that provide a good product, the next they are all about how the company treats its employees, and unpredictably, the next minute they are all about environmentally conscious companies. No, they do not hate your product or service; they just cannot imagine spending their hard-earned money on a company that is not eco-conscious. [Hm, this is a smooth term to throw around in your next product messaging btw]. Interestingly, your company’s carbon footprint could be wickedly high, you could produce the most non-biodegradable waste materials and dump them in water sources, but as long as the term environmentally-friendly appears in your messaging backed by figures in percentages or decimals, this market will buy that ‘eco-friendly’ product.
Wait, where was I? Yeah, why should CX matter?
Thirdly, deliver your brand promises. Those inspiring, exciting, and positively transforming experiences that you promised your customers, deliver that. This will build trust. Simple, give your customers what you promised. You already created this expectation through your messaging and your customers are after that smile that they saw in your advert. Ever wondered why advertisements try and capture emotions and feelings? A lady that is now smiling after using a particular detergent to clean a frustrating smile; that remote-working person with a radiant smile that gets his lunch delivered in seconds. Your consumers think that they could be that person. Now imagine if your detergent cannot clean that frustrating stain? Imagine if you deliver food five Zoom meetings later; after this hungry consumer has spent all hour jumping on calls and telling people to unmute and that he/she cannot see the screen that the boss thinks has been shared? Small things… well, reasonably not small, will make customers lose trust in you. Building trust is imperative.
What next after you have understood your competitors, understood your customers’ values and preferences, and delivered on the brand promise? You imagine that you have done it all. Sadly, this is one of those fields, just like in technology, where you are rendered irrelevant and obsolete without a warning. There is no right solution, but in my opinion, constantly re-evaluate and re-invent how you serve your customers. In the age of big data analytics, [this term already feels like a cliché. It is not], leverage data to understand your customers and business environment. Understand which touchpoints matter the most. Listen to that customer who told you that you forgot to pack coleslaw with their order. It could be the only thing that entices them to purchase from you.
Secondly, build an adaptable and flexible culture. [Is this the part where I use the term organic culture?] I love these terms that have made their way into boardrooms. Organic culture, woke, keep it 100, low key, and others. Does your culture seek to understand the language that your market uses? Are you going to insist that the word ‘woke’ has been incorrectly used because it does not carry the preposition ‘up’? Make the trend your friend.
Lastly, I have seen companies talk of communities and brand storytelling. Is that the direction that branding is taking now? Have we exhausted building experiences for customers already? That fast? Who is coming up with these brand messaging? What are the rules to this game? I like the concept of storytelling through products- however abstract it sounds. I like the concept of building a community. I feel it supersedes building experiences, being inspired by excellence, building solutions, blah blah blah. It is a space where a brand’s consumers feel that they belong, that they are heard and seen. It is a space where they feel at home. A community captures the essence of humanity. A community is an inclusive space; a space that people who struggle with communication meet patient customer service teams, where users that cannot read have the audio option. Those companies that are already designing with inclusivity in mind, commendable!
Can you imagine that marketing has evolved to a point where a toilet cleaning detergent is marketed in a way that convinces you that you are loved and validated when you use it? I will be less likely to struggle to understand what a detergent brand is doing with the word community and why it should use the same messaging as a fintech or a social media company. Why? Because while the fundamental principles of building a community are universal, companies will then be able to define what they mean by community, what happens in their community, and what to feel about that community. It will encourage uniqueness in brand messaging which I cannot wait to see.
O no! Not this again. Do you need me to conclude all that? Seriously? Who is this boring person that came up with the rule that every piece of writing needs a conclusion? Well, I will not conclude all that, however, I will tell you about a beautiful concept that I like; one that is a marketing strategy yet manages to feel like a beautiful experience. The Spotify Wrapped concept. I like it. No, I love it. It is not just about users sharing their listening moments of the year. It shows a dedicated effort by Spotify to their users. It is personalization at its best. It evokes nostalgia through music and whatever else you listen to. It reminds you of that song you listened to countless times after you got that promotion or the song that comforted you the most when your heart got broken. It arouses feelings of appreciation, understanding, and validation. And that you can share this data on social media shows users that they haven’t been the only Spotify users; that they do not enjoy listening to certain artists, podcasts, or music genres alone; that there is still so much out here to listen to. Now that is a community. That is an exciting experience; that is an inspiring experience; and indeed, it is a positively transforming experience. How is that for a conclusion?