Posted: 8th July 2010

Customer experience, mind the gap!

Mind the gap? Marketing Week got me thinking – are some organisations focusing on the wrong things?

This article should be a wake-up call to brand owners everywhere who perhaps get too focused on the developing a ‘brand image’ and perhaps neglect the ‘brand experience’ – thus creating this gap.

In these tougher economic times, customers will be considering their purchases much more carefully; they are looking for greater value and are likely to be more critical when they feel short-changed. Consequently, this value gap could result in a lost future sale or more significantly them spreading negative word-of-mouth to friends and family, damaging the long-term health of the brand.

In this article Lucy Handle states (in relation to car brands) “As we come out of recession, consumers have higher expectations and I think that rather than just focusing on the driving experience, consumers are looking at the purchase, the dealership experience and the ethical credentials,” – this supports the fact that it’s not just the product, but the purchase experience that matters.  Purchasers need to feel good about the way they are treated when they buy a product. The experience matters.  Generally we know what to expect from the products we purchase, but the purchase experience is where there is opportunity for delight or disappointment.

The article does confirm old adage ‘under promise and over deliver’, but the real challenge is actually measuring the perceptions and experiences to know where you are. You need real-time, accurate, reliable data.  You need to get a handle on the actual brand experienced delivered if you are to manage it.

And as a final thought – why not differentiate your product on the brand experience? Create a culture that oozes uniqueness and value? It’s much more sustainable than trying to build a better widget.  As has been said “culture trumps strategy every time”.

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