man about to make a slam dunk with a basketball that reads "broken promises"
PHOTO: LexScope

A new report found many organizations fail to deliver on customer expectations for brand promise. The report, "Proving the Value of CX: How to Place Customer Experience at the Center of Your Business," estimated a brand's value can make up anywhere from 15 to 70% of a company's share price, meaning ignoring this area is high stakes. Below are some recommendations from marketers and other experts on how to design and build a customer experience (CX) solution to best meet those expectations.

What Does Brand Promise Mean?

“Your brand promise is more than a mission statement,” said Logan Henderson, general manager of marketing automation at SugarCRM. “It’s something your customers should expect from your business without fail. An assurance that every interaction they have with you will have a positive impact on their daily lives. Consistency and credibility build brand trust, and every contact with a customer is an opportunity to engender or erode that trust.”

Brand trust is built in small meaningful increments and not grand gestures, Henderson said, pointing out that this is even more true during the current pandemic.

There are three basic components to deliver on brand promise, according to Henderson:

  1. Define it: Make sure everyone in your organization can state it. Many organizations focus on customer-facing positions, but delivering on a brand promise requires that your entire business can easily convey its principles.
  2. Enable it: Help your team do their jobs effectively. Provide the tools and data they need to reduce time spent entering or gathering information and increase time on high-value work and delivering outcomes.
  3. Measure it: Create specific goals or objectives that can be used to track the achievement of your brand promise. This can be repeat purchases, customer satisfaction (NPS), positive online reviews, referral business, etc., but should be an explicit target you can measure your performance against.

Related Article: What Is Your Brand Running On?

Involve All Employees in Your Efforts

Brand promises are customer expectations. Customer experience is how those expectations are met. Therefore, the need to build a truly client-centric brand of engaged employees is crucial, said Rima Shah, analyst for emerging technologies at Technostacks Infotech Pvt Ltd. “This involves ownership, prioritization and signing off elements like visual designs, brand voice, content, flow, persona, outbound communications, decision linking and commitment of all the participants right from marketing, digital, sales, CX, product and customer service.”

While not all feedback from frontline employees can be incorporated, it is important to include employees’ fresh ideas and notable insights into developing CX that delivers on the brand promise, according to Shah.

Surveys, polls and sales will indicate how well the brand is delivering on customer expectations, according to Shah. "Early detection and effective risk management helps organizations turn potential brand threats into opportunities for delivering on their brand promise.”

When the feedback shows the company is failing to meet customer expectations, then the brand can change its employee engagement strategy, and use future feedback to determine if the shift is closing the gap or if other changes need to be made, according to Shah.

Related Article: Connecting Frontline Workers to Back-End Systems

Use an Inside-Out Approach

“Promote your vision from the inside out,” recommends Erron Al-Amin, CSAA Insurance Group customer experience and insights executive. “The vision needs to be internally focused at first. Our CEM movement, when we started, was driven by the motto: simple, proactive and personal. We worked for years to ensure employees understood what made us special based on each one of those pillars. Hiring based on those pillars and incorporating them into training, rewards and daily coaching has also led to vast improvements in customer satisfaction measures.

Move outside the organization, too, by establishing external partnerships, Al-Amin recommended. Agencies and other external partners can help you explore your vision in multiple channels and formats and get it out into the world to drive new business. This is the easy and fun part. Once you have established proof points, testimonials and cultural alignment on what it will take to maintain the vision will follow.

“Not only does this method improve customer experience, it improves employee engagement and creates a permanent and ongoing role for CX professionals within an organization,” Al-Amin said.

Related Article: Employees Can Make or Break Your Customer Experiences

Focus on What Customers Do, Not on What They Say

Often companies fail to deliver on customer expectations because they are focused on the wrong things, according to Colin Shaw, founder of Beyond Philosophy. Brands are focused on rational aspects like price, delivery, speed, etc., but often those aren’t at the top of customer expectations.

“The irony of a customer experience is that oftentimes customers don't even know themselves what they want and have trouble articulating it. In addition, what customers say and what they do can be totally different,” Shaw said. “For example, Disney knows when it asks its guests what they would like to eat at the theme park they say they would like to have an option of a salad. But Disney also knows that people don't eat salads at theme parks, they eat hotdogs and hamburgers.”

So organizations need to focus on what customers do, not what they say they do, or want, Shaw said. They need to embrace the fact that human decision-making is complex. They need to embrace behavioral science and recognize that people are irrational and emotional beings and, in many cases, buy emotionally and then justify with logic.

Related Article: Reading the Digital Clues: Actions Speak Louder Than Words