Every business has a typical story. There is a business idea or gap in the marketplace.  A product or service is built to address this problem. This could be as simple as working out that there is an opportunity to open a coffee shop near your house as there are very few in the area. You open the shop and you have a laser like focus on making the best coffee you can possibly make. After all you are in the coffee making business.

In my experience there is an obsessive focus on what is the ‘coffee’ for a business. In many instances brands tend to not look beyond this.

But does making the best coffee by itself make you the most preferred brand for a customer? Does it drive loyalty and growth? Does it give you a sustainable competitive advantage?

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A common aspect that separates a top brand from its lesser competitors is the leader’s focus on building a brand rather than the product itself. There is a threshold to making the best coffee beyond which the law of diminishing returns takes effect. There is a similar effect if an airline offers  additional leg space, or providing the best learning facilities in a school or only focussing on the investment returns (in this case nobody can guarantee stock returns anyway). Once a product reaches its threshold, the pertinent question is What Next?

Addressing this What Next? is where a company truly creates a brand value.

Before I discuss this further, take a look at the four scenarios below and have a think:

The answer might not necessarily be a Yes to any of the above.

Great customer experience doesn’t begin and end with the solution a product offers. It is also the experience surrounding the use of the product that adds true brand value. When a brand addresses the core expectations of customers and then takes the relationship with the customer to the next level, it creates a pleasant memory.

The customer in turn conveys this memory via a story that influences several other customers to consider the brand while making a purchase of similar products. It can be quite the opposite and very detrimental to the lifespan of a brand if the product is good but the CX is bland or bad.

Let’s return to the four scenarios and take a look at how each one can deliver a positive customer experience:

Every time I help a brand emerge as one with a strong CX focus, I ask my clients four important questions:

  1. Does the product you offer have a story? Is there an emotional connect that a customer will feel with the solution?
  2. Does the brand have a focused customer-centric intent at its core driving the entire organisation and inspiring all internal staff?
  3. Does it align with what your brand promise?
  4. What do you offer besides the ‘coffee’ for your brand?

Once a company answers in the affirmative to these four questions, it’s obvious that the company’s promise will drive the shaping of the product, thus creating a brand value for itself.

Engaged Strategy’s Intelligent Industry Analytics of five important industries in Australia, namely Banking, Superannuation, Motor Insurance, Property Insurance and Health Insurance, studied various emotional elements of customers towards major brands in these sectors. Among 15 emotional elements, the most prominent were the ones where brands made customers feel valued, supported and cared for. By not focusing on these three emotional elements, brands within these segments were losing anywhere between 45 to 50 Net Promoter Score points – a pretty big gap in a scenario where every positive NPS point has a huge economic impact.

Customers who have a positive emotional connect with a brand are more engaged and spend more with the brand. Engaged customers also improve the brand’s customer base via effective word of mouth recommendation, leading to long-term good profits. So think about this the next time you look at your brand’s offering:

What is the ‘aha’ moment that you create for your customer?
What is the emotional connect you have with your customers?
How do you ensure your staff transfer the right positive emotions to your customers?