The best airlines experience flight delays. World-class restaurants send out wrong orders. And logistics providers could very well lose that important parcel you’re expecting.
The truth is that no business or brand is immune to error. But perfection isn’t what builds excellency in a brand. Rather, it’s about meticulously planning every detail to prevent issues from occurring in the first place, and then anticipating what could go wrong and tailoring an appropriate response that will make your customers trust you even more.
Best-in-class brands do exactly this: Club Med, Disney, and Ritz-Carlton Hotels have created such a powerful image of what customer service should be, and guests can expect a consistent experience every time they engage.
The solution isn’t to be perfect, as we know this is an impossible standard. If you want to build a brand that’s on par with the industry’s biggest symbols of excellency, you need to proactively shape every detail of the customer experience and leave nothing to chance.
The Value of a Proactive Customer Experience
The best customer experiences produce value in two currencies: your customers feel they get what they paid for, and your business earns a reputation boost. Likewise, when your customer experience fails, the costs are multifold.
A recent report from EY indicated that every poor customer experience robs Australian businesses of about $720, or about $40 billion per year. The worst part is that nearly 40% of consumers are not reaching out to the company to resolve issues, a costly problem that has almost no chance of being fixed UNLESS you’re proactively creating excellence as your modus operandi.
Happy customers are often repeat customers, which also tend to cost five to seven times less than a brand new customer. But more importantly, those that truly have a standout experience are more likely to become brand ambassadors. They spread the word about your company and encourage others to do business with you, which makes your customer acquisition cost even lower.
This is the true picture of excellency. It’s not a one-time fluke, but rather a cycle that continues producing brand ambassadors with every engagement.
Start by Being Proactive, Not Reactive
The bridge between average companies and Club Med-like brands is design, where nothing is left to chance. Therefore, the first step in building brand excellency is to proactively monitor and manage how your customers interact with your company.
Think of all the touchpoints you have with your customers and prospects. Do they present a cohesive company image? Is that image the one you want your customers and prospects to associate with your brand?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen Covey once said that “Proactive people take their own weather with them.” That’s a pretty powerful statement about your ability to transform your brand’s narrative and shape every experience. Even things that other companies may feel helpless to control can actually play to your advantage.
Turn Stages into Steps
You have a big picture brand in mind, and that image is delivered through the hundreds of interactions, details, and other moving parts that make up your business. Each of these need that same foundation of excellency you’re building, and you need to identify what these components are.
This is a major undertaking and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’re diving into a unique perspective of your business that you may not have considered before, and it can take some tweaking and tuning to get it right.
The best way to start is by identifying the larger, top-level stages of the customer experience. This could be how they discover you, how they check in to your business upon arrival, or how they reach out to you for support.
From there, you can break each stage down to its smaller components. For example, if you’re a hotel and are examining your guest check-in process, your steps might be arrival, parking, finding the front office, being greeted by the front desk, payment, and helping the guest find their room.
Each of these steps seem small, but they could present opportunities for improvement. For example, you might find that you need better signage for guests to know where to go. Or, you might want to change your approach in how you welcome guests to your hotel.
Wherever you make improvements, the ultimate goal is to provide a memorable experience that goes above and beyond the industry norm. You’re building a brand of excellence, so cookie-cutter experiences simply won’t do.
No Element is Too Small to Matter
No part of your business is insignificant, and there will always be opportunities to improve. The best brands are those that proactively take the time to find those opportunities, examine how they contribute to your excellency, and refine those moments until they create the experience your customers deserve.
When you habitually operate in this mindset, you’ll be able to craft the world-class brand that your customers can’t help but notice.
For more insights on building a name of excellency, head back to the Institute of Excellence blog.