To measure if, and how, your customers see the brand as an extension of themselves, you need to first understand who your customers are and what they are like as people. This means that you have researched them by completing that persona research. And with that, you can now better understand their motivations and preferences. You also should have gathered metrics and analytics from various touchpoints along your company’s customer journeys that inform you about their behaviors and actions with your company. You most likely have also developed journeys for each persona that outline how your customers make decisions to solve a problem related to the one your company solves, as well as how they make the specific decision to buy your product.
You can correlate such information with your brand values to determine which aspects of your company and product experiences appeal to your customers and why some don’t. You can also gain insight into how to adjust your experiences so your customers can connect to your company better.
So how do you do this?
First, map the steps of your customer journey and include every customer touchpoint and micro-experience. This will help you better understand what your customers are experiencing with your company and all of the various paths and outcomes. If you can, include samples of all screens, emails, scripts, signs, brochures, or menus—any communication materials, really—for reference. As we know, actions speak louder than words and journeys present both the in-person and interactive conversations your customers are having with your company through activities and decisions. If you can include a sample of conversations that happen along the way or sample scripts used by sales, customer service, or other departments, include that too. It’s all important.
Once you have your journeys completed, map your brand values to each touchpoint, micro-experience, and communication materials. You will be determining which touchpoints and materials best represent each brand value. This will help you to further understand what your customers are experiencing with your brand. You may notice that there are no brand values represented at some steps, and that’s okay. This exercise will help you understand where there are gaps in communicating your brand that need to be repaired. You may also notice that you are communicating a different brand. That’s okay too! That’s good information to have so you can make updates to your brand or it may help you realize why the level of sales you want isn’t happening.
If you know how many people participated in these micro-experiences, add that count for each step. Also add any transactional activity you have, like length of stay or interaction, dollar spent, what was purchased, or other data. That will be very helpful to know which journeys are more popular.
Once you have all that, map the actions your individual customers take for these micro-experiences and indicate frequency within a timeframe. You could determine an average metric for this too if that helps to discover a baseline. It could be per day, week, or month, depending on what makes sense for your organization. Make it consistent across your experience. Once you do that, you can start to map personas to them and then see if there is a “type” that experiences some events more than others. Track the percentage in which each persona participates in each activity to help you better understand what exactly your customers are doing when. You could use that information to determine if your assumptions about your customers based on your personas were accurate or if you maybe have very different personas representing your customers based on their conversations and interactions.
Here’s an example of how you could use this. Let’s say you own a café that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner for dining-in or to-go. This café also offers the same for a beverage experience: enjoy it in the café or take it to go. You may notice that there is a type of customer that has coffee in the café and lingers there for a few hours, and a different type for the to-go experience. There may be trends for ordering: people with simpler coffee orders get it to go while the latte crowd hangs out. Or maybe tea drinkers linger, and coffee drinkers take it to-go. You may also notice there is a type of customer that orders food more often that is different than desserts or coffee. And in this analysis, you may discover that the to-go lunch group may be 100% different than the to-go dinner or even dining-in lunch. There may be trends between the people who stay versus the people to go. The to-go crowd may spend more money at your establishment through daily or weekly trips, but the people who dine-in may not just linger at their tables, providing opportunities to order more, but they may bring new people to introduce to the restaurant. Or they may visit more regularly. Through this examination, you may decide that it is better to have people come into the restaurant because they bring new customers to help expand your base. Targeting them may be a better business decision. The to-go group may come to your place anyway. You may notice that they all live nearby, and it is a saturated market with restaurants. Your place provides variety to those already loyal customers. So, promotions to encourage new guests may expand your customer base and be a better bet for growth rather than trying to compete at lunch against other neighboring restaurants with a group that sees your cafe as an option in their rotation for variety.
Another example is a spa. Some women may come in regularly for hair and nails or waxing or facials. Those people may be different than those who get a massage. The massage people may be more of a special occasion type of customer, so if you want regulars, they aren’t your target. However, you may notice that someone who orders a massage with a mani/pedi or a facial can be converted to be a regular customer. Or the massage business may be a way to expand revenue during the holidays through gifts for regular customers. Or you may see that you can introduce new people to your spa with a mani/pedi massage combination package. Or you may notice that facials as gifts prove to be a way to get more new customers based on the data of first time versus repeat sales.
From this entire exercise, you will discover the relationship between your customers and your customer personas and your journeys and be able to discover if your experiences are truly communicating your company’s brand well or at least in some way along the journey. You’ll be able to validate if your assumptions about your customers and their journeys are true and if what you believe is effective brand communication for your company truly is effective – or if it needs to be adjusted. Your customers may not be who you think they are. And if that’s true….it will be difficult, if not impossible, to build a long-term loyal relationship with them because you aren’t communicating with them in the right way. Or you are building a relationship, but you could create a better one.
You may also discover which customers are sharing experiences with their network. From there, you can then create more opportunities for them to do that and further expand your customer base to include new regulars.
How do you do this? First, examine popularity of specific micro-experiences and the personas that are engaged in them. From this you may discover that some personas have a lot more in common with each other in how they respond to certain activities. This analysis should also inform you which activities customers connect with best. You may discover that the more popular micro-experiences that have a stronger engagement exhibit a specific brand value more than others and that value may resonate more with specific customer groups or personas. You may also discover through this exercise, that some customers may have different views of the problem that your company solves for them. For example, in the café example, you may have a mixture of customers who visit for the coffee and food versus the atmosphere and feeling during the experience, and for the spa example, they may visit to get great hair, an awesome massage, or clearer skin. It all depends on the response, where you get your revenue and what people buy, and how people respond to the micro-experiences – even sharing content or experiences. Discover who likes what best, who is more loyal, and focus on making those relationship shine.
Another way to discover the connection between your customers and your brand is to measure how your customers perceive the brand. Sure, you can measure how the brand and your company’s solutions connects with them emotionally, but you can also determine if your brand or company has directly changed their lives in some way.
One way to approach this is to have a quick discussion with some customers and ask them questions like:
You can use this information to discover if there are correlations and similarities in style between the two. It may be based purely on customer perception of themselves and your company, but in this case, such information may be all you need because you are correlating how they view your company with how they view themselves.
To broaden this research, you could also ask:
This helps you to see if your company did impact this person’s life and if your company’s experience inspired this person to not just repeat it but share it. And if the person wouldn’t share it, find out why. That may highlight for you a challenge with your company’s experience for that persona.
Additionally, there are some questions you will want to have answered about your company during your research, and you may need to correlate various research methods to discover the answer to these questions:
I can’t forget to mention…don’t overlook using traditional brand awareness and perception studies as well as measuring brand equity with tools like Qualtrics. They offer a lot of information that you can use here to gain similar insights or correlate results to answer such questions.
Knowing how your customers relate to your brand can help you create experiences that help them see the brand as an extension of themselves which will build a relationship with increased loyalty. Or you may discover that you attract a different type of customer than you assumed. Both insights are very helpful and will help you better connect with the customers best suited for the solutions your company offers.
Regarding the first insight, knowing how your customers relate to your brand can help you bring out the best in your customers, so they connect with your company more often in a more meaningful way. You then can create for them more positive, memorable experiences. And by understanding how your customers see themselves, your company can find ways to connect with them using brand values and create experiences that they want to repeat again and again and to share.
If you attract a different customer than you thought, you can now discover more about this customer type and connect with them better. You may need to make changes, but through the mapping exercises, you may identify where you lose customers or where there may be a miscommunication that could be averted or improved. Or you may need to re-evaluate your brand and values. Maybe who your company is, isn’t who you and your team think it is.
By better understanding how your customers prefer to engage with your company and brand, you will know what your customers like to do, and you can give them more of that. Provide them with opportunities to connect with your company better. And by doing this you provide an added benefit – they have more ways to share your company’s experience with others. You can then use this knowledge in your company when creating communications and experiences so you can build a stronger relationship with your customers that will foster loyalty because you will demonstrate to them that you “get” them, you see them, and you want to be friends with them. You build compassionate experiences. And this is how you create strong customer relationships.
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