Brilliant Reads: joined-up customer experiences and brand values.

In Brilliant Reads this week we’re looking at joined-up customer experiences and brand values. (Would you like Brilliant Reads in your inbox each week? Sign up here.)

The truth about customer experience (HBR)

Maddy recommends this Harvard Business Review piece by McKinsey’s Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan and Conor Jones on the importance of thinking of the customer journey as an end-to-end experience, rather than a series of touchpoints.

They write that many businesses have historically focussed on touchpoints, the various moments when customers interact with the organisation on their route to purchase (and after). However, they argue that this creates a distorted picture, suggesting that customers are happier with the company than they actually are, and misses the more important end-to-end experience.

Organisations which skillfully manage the entire customer journey reap enormous benefits: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction, they say. To realise these benefits, companies need to embed customer journeys into their operating models in four ways: they must identify key journeys; understand how they are performing in each; redesign and support those journeys, and change mind-sets to sustain the initiatives at scale.

(If you want to read the full article, you’ll need a free HBR account.)

Omni-channel: the evolution of multi-channel (ClickZ)

In a similar vein to our first pick, this article by Possible’s Andrew Solmssen calls for a shift from multi-channel to what he calls omni-channel.

Omni-channel is an evolution of multi-channel. While adopting multi-channel meant making sure a brand was visible and active on all key channels, omni-channel take it a step further, joining-up the experience across channels for something more seamless, consistent and trackable.

The retail sector is pushing the idea forward, with some brands making efforts to synchronise their online and physical stores. But it’s not just relevant for retail, Solmessen argues – all marketers should be trying to move beyond guessing at cross-channel digital ROI and start building a holistic understanding of the consumer-behavior path.

He says that the experience needs to be seamless, and that with awareness of what a consumer is doing, marketers can start to tell a continuous story, whenever and wherever the consumer interacts with the brand.

Progressive brand connections (Brand Perfect)

This piece written by friend of Brilliant Noise, Charlie Peverett, says that while we often focus on technology, it can actually be simple concepts that give us a chance to innovate.

Charlie writes that for many brands, playing out their values online is a simple opportunity but a powerful one.

He gives three examples of brands that are using their values in an effective way:

  1. Patagonia – outdoor brand Patagonia’s clothes are built to last, and the brand has strong environmental principles. It has previously gone as far as asking customers to pledge not to buy their clothes, unless they really need them.  Its Worn Wear Tumblr celebrates the longevity of their clothes.  Customers share images and stories about their Patagonia clothing, showing the items as part of family memories, adventures, and even being handed down through generations.
  2. Hiut Denim – this small Welsh company makes jeans which come with a HistoryTag – a unique code that lets the buyer track the journey of their jeans, beginning with the person who made them in Cardigan in Wales. The buyer can add their own photos and notes using a hashtag on Twitter, Flickr and Instagram.
  3. Cafedirect – this Fairtrade coffee brand has launched the hashtag #askjuanjose. It lets followers ask questions of one of their coffee growers, which are answered every week, helping forge a long-term relationship between the producer and the end consumer.

Demanding brands (Trendwatching)

If you can make it past the rather bombastic opening (‘If you don’t believe that the number one raison d’être for brands is to (profitably) help create a more sustainable, more ethical society – and that brands that ignore this imperative will regret it one day – then don’t read on’) this trend briefing from Trendwatching has some interesting ideas and case studies.

It defines demanding brands as: ‘Switched-on brands that are embarking on the journey towards a more sustainable and socially-responsible future will demand that consumers also contribute. Even if that means some pain – financial or otherwise – for their customers.’

Case studies include: the packaging-free grocery chain, Unpackaged; Hachikyo, a Japanese restaurant that fines diners who don’t finish their meal; and The Exchange, a South African pop-up shop where customers don’t buy things but sign up as organ donors as payment instead.

And to round things off here’s a brilliant quote and a brilliant number for you…

Brilliant quote

This Brilliant Quote on the current ubiquity of lists in content comes from a New Yorker article by Mark O’Connell:

“I imagined myself, some decades from now, nervously perched on the papered leatherette of an examination bed, and my doctor directing her sad, humane eyes at me a moment before clearing her throat and saying, “Top Five Signs You Probably Have Pancreatic Cancer.”

Brilliant number

92% of consumers around the world say that they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. But 49% of marketers think ads created by professionals are the most effective type of advertising, according to a poll by Google.