The Brief doesn’t have to be amazing, the customer experience does

Jenna Frampton explains why delivering the best possible customer experience has never been more important.

With so much choice in every market and sector you need a key point of differentiation. So what have you got over your rivals to grab the attention of potential customers and keep your existing ones?

A unique product or service? Possibly, if unlikely. And anyway you need to get your target audience to listen to you first to get this across.

The most advanced technology or innovation? That might be the case now, but for how long?

The best value offering? Maybe, but all it takes is for a rival to undercut you and you’ll find yourself in a damaging price war.

So, what can you do that guarantees winning customers over? Perhaps these recent statistics will give you a clue.

Customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020, according to research company Walker. Furthermore, Forrester states companies that created a great customer experience generated compound annual revenue growth rates (CAGR) of 17% over a five-year period compared to just 3% for poor performers.

In an increasingly competitive world, it’s the experience you give to your customers that makes all the difference. As Salesforce tells us, 75% of people now expect an exceptional, consistent experience.

So where do you start?

Sometimes when I get a brief from a client, it makes me want to scream! The brief misses the point. It’s not customer obsessed. It’s too focused on boasting about themselves. It’s not ambitious enough. It’s not about being amazing, but just ‘good enough’. In today’s marketplace, only amazing will do.

When I talk to clients, I start with just one question: How will this show any customer that you understand their needs and wants? How does it prove that by working with you they will get an amazing experience, amazing outcomes, and an amazing partnership?

OK, so I’m using the word ‘amazing’ a lot – but I’m not afraid of it. Sure, it’s a cliché. But it’s one we need desperately right now. Planning an amazing experience is always our primary agenda.

I encourage our clients not to write a traditional brief, instead, I ask them to explain what the challenge or problem is: From there we can start a conversation to truly understand what they need and work out a communications strategy that really makes a difference to the target audience; to truly engage them.

We’ve proved time-after-time that if a customer doesn’t see their need in a communication, they are far less-likely to engage. The bottom line is: it’s not what you want to say that counts, it’s what you should say. You can only work out what to say by knowing the customer. Understanding their pain-points, their challenges (not yours) and what ‘good’ looks. It’s a deeper, more strategic conversation that should happen before any tactical planning begins.

The best way to do that is to engage the agency earlier and involve your sales people; the ones closest to your customers. Don’t get overly tactical from the start but focus on the challenge the customer needs to overcome.

OK, how do you do that? Plan. Simple. The first step for us is to get everyone together to talk through the challenge. And when we say ‘everyone’, we mean it. All the stakeholders that know the customer. We get grilling. We grill them and they grill us. There may be a vague idea of a ‘brief’ – but more importantly, there’s just ‘the challenge to solve’.

The perspective must be companywide: from the board to the frontline. Everyone should have a stake in the communications strategy. If they do, they’ll support it. If they don’t, they might not.

Forgive me if I’m being repetitive, but the point is important: If you want to create a customer experience that is genuinely amazing, then you have to focus on that goal from the start. We have created a unique methodology and approach with our Challenger Lab concept that ensures that working collaboratively we undercover the very essence of the customer challenge. We find the process of taking that challenge into the heart of a client’s organisation genuinely delivers an inspirational experience for their customers and an amazing commercial result for our clients.

At Gilroy, we’ll help you distill the challenges your customers face, then deliver a killer communications strategy to prove your credentials and deliver the best possible experience.

 

Author: Jenna Frampton, Senior Partner