Customer experience is the brand differentiator of the day. Brands are touting themselves to be the best, not based on their products, but on their service to the customer. The Experience Makers ask what’s driving the experience economy?
In this episode The Experience Makers host, technology journalist, Gemma Milne, talks to Leigh Gammons, Cognifide Chief Growth Officer and Jamie Brighton, Head of Product & Industry Marketing, EMEA, at Adobe. They explore what we mean when we talk about the experience economy; changing consumer expectations; how brands can meet their demands and what these experiences look like. Here’s a taste of what came up:
The evolution of experience
People were talking about the experience economy back in 1998. But what does it really mean? Let’s take the example of a birthday cake to delve into a little marketing history:
-Agrarian economy > mother makes birthday cake from scratch
-Goods-based industrial economy > mother makes birthday cake with a pre-made mix
-Service economy > mother buys birthday cake from the store
-Experience economy > mother outsources cake and party altogether
As a society we’ve moved away from making things from scratch to not making anything at all and, in this example, even outsourcing the entire party. Consumers are certainly evolving.
Regardless of age, people value the experience more than the raw product. And with that customer expectations are rising.
We as consumers, the expectations that we have for the experience that we get from any brand that we engage with, that benchmark is set by the single best experience we have with any brand regardless of the vertical. Jamie Brighton, Head of Product & Industry Marketing, EMEA, Adobe
Since we have such exceptional frictionless experiences, with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, we now expect that from all of the brands we interact with. This means that brands need to up the ante and deliver. But savvy consumers can spot a marketing ploy from a mile away; integrity and authenticity are the all important ingredients.
Instagram vs. reality
With this heightened set of expectations, some brands look for quick wins over substance. We see this playing out on Instagram; brands rise and have a moment of internet glory and, like a flash in the pan, are never heard from again.
The brands that are getting it right don’t care about going viral. They care about creating memorable, personalised moments on a simple but meaningful user journey. Consumers are more than willing to share these positive interactions with a brand, even without the Insta sizzle. That’s the real win! Being over the top has its place, but what consumers want most is a smooth and reliable interaction.
Surprise and delight
Even with the perfect brand strategy inevitably something will go wrong. In the case of KFC, we saw an outage of their beloved chicken in the UK. This could have been completely disastrous for the brand, but instead they struck marketing gold by turning this problem into a very clever campaign. They put the customer first, and told people not to come to their restaurants. The best thing being it puts a smile on customers faces and gave them something positive to talk about instead of the obvious facts. It’s that surprise and delight factor that makes brands memorable and leaves a positive brand sentiment.
In a great example of online/offline personalisation Jamie tells a quick anecdote about his positive experience with his airline of choice. Jamie tweeted a picture of his meal in the lounge, the brand then engaged with him, and they had a conversation about his status and loyalty. On the next flight the cabin services leader made a point of introducing himself to see if there was anything he could do to make the flight more enjoyable. The surprise and delight factor of being recognised in person because of an online exchange with a brand brings that personalised touch full circle and should be the example that brands strive for. Obviously this isn’t possible in every scenario, but it’s a great goal to aim for.
Change, change, change
To create exceptional customer experiences brands, now more than ever, are having to change the way they do business to meet their customers’ needs. Time and again we are presented with the ideal of digital transformation. In a nutshell the people, process, and technology need to be right to create that ecosystem of change within a business. Companies that are used to faster change cycles, tech companies and FMCG for instance, will find it easier to adapt and evolve than, for instance, automotive companies, with traditional and long production cycles.
Now that you have a taste for the topic, tune in to listen to Gemma, Leigh and Jamie explore What’s driving the experience economy.
And, if you missed our launch episode, Get Platformed or Die Trying, check that out too. In this episode, our CTO, Cleve Gibbon defines the platform as a business model and chats to Ashley Friedlein, founder of Econsultancy and Guild, who describes the model, in the same way that we talk about Software as a Service, as ‘Everything as a Service’.
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Gemma will be joined by Herb van der Raad, Director of Client Strategy, from Cognifide with Nikolai Ueker, COO and Will Parsons, Head of Customer Success, from REalyse who put their heads together to re-engineer the enterprise for experience. Stay tuned!