The internet is magical – but for every funny video of homemade face masks, there's an obnoxious, disgruntled customer who shares their displeasure with your product or service, with the world.
We can't control feedback, but we can control the experience that leads to it. We need to make our customers' experience unforgettable.
Just not in a bad way. We don't need unforgettably bad experiences.
The flow of an experience should look a little bit like this – a person discovers you, interacts, makes a purchase, leaves a positive review and comes back after telling six friends. Sounds simple?
First, we need to know what problem the customer has – you should know this, but if you don't, I'd suggest reading about building your brands foundations.
First, we need to understand what a customer experience should look like, so you can surprise and delight your customers.
Do things they are not expecting. That's how you create something memorable. When you can, personalise the experience. Who doesn't like something personalised? Like when you've sent buy something, and it gets gift-wrapped, or there's a handwritten note. That stuff takes a little effort, but it's worth its weight in gold.
Maybe, because I'm in branding, I notice these things, but I keep these ideas as inspiration for projects. And show customers the impact they can have.
For example, I love the experience of buying coffee. And it starts with my first interaction on the website: you can suck me into a purchase with some witty copy, a clear description and a simple process.
About 3 years ago, I ordered beans from Market Lane Coffee, South Yarra, Vic. It came in a brown box with a generic Parcel Post sticker on the front, but they sealed the box with custom printed tape.
Inside were the beans and two pieces of card - one told me all about the coffee, tasting notes and the region it came from.
The other was a thick, brown (recycled) paper postcard, printed in black and white with a photo of two coffee farmers. On the reverse were contact details and their logo squeezed into a corner. Leaving ample space for the following message.
"Hello Martin, Hope you enjoy the delicious Hadheso Espresso. Happy Brewing, Love Market Lane Coffee / x."
Now, I understand that they write a similar note with every order. But Market Lane went further to show they were grateful for my purchase.
A memorable customer experience needs to do the following:
You're always gonna be continuously doing it, working on feedback and making sure everything works together to build this fantastic experience.
It's those little details that Market Lane Coffee got right. They surprised me, personalised it, added extra value, made it consistent, avoided failing my expectations, and showed gratitude.
And I can happily say I'd go back again, and I've told all my friends about the experience (that's you, hi!).
It's not the big gestures. It's the little details that make the difference, that bind the big things together. I cannot stress that enough.
Instead of meaningless, forgettable, expected experiences, we need to work out journeys that elevate experiences to meaningful, unforgettable, unique and unexpected.
This creates loyal customers who spread the good word. They'll be your ultimate fans. Saving you marketing dollars.
Before you cheer and crack out the Dom Perignon. This task is a continually evolving process to create more brand awareness. There will always be steps to improve, delete and add. This evolving process allows you to see the little gaps where the journey is confusing, broken or missing completely.
This technique is very thorough, but it's the simplest. I use it in branding workshops as it allows you to easily see gaps. Grab a giant sheet of paper. I use a butcher's block, some Sharpies, and a couple of coloured pens.
On the left, write down "customer meet (insert your brand name)". On the right, "customer leaves review".
Now write out all the steps in between. You might have lots of different ways they meet your brand.
It's important not to skip any.
Once you've written down all the first touchpoints. You need to think about progressing people from a cold interaction to a sweaty hot one. You will start seeing actionable touchpoints you need to create, evolve or delete.
When you've worked out what those touchpoints are, you need to analyse them to see if they align with the early work you've put in. Are they communicating the right feelings? Have you used your values to communicate with them?
If it's a phone call, how did it get answered? Is there a set structure? If it was an email, did the touchpoint elicit an emotive response? Is the copy written in your brands language? What is the tone of voice?
If you want a brownie point, customise obscure steps. Things like quotes, invoices, 404 pages.
A great example is when the Australian shoe brand Rollies fulfils an online order; the invoice slip they add to the packaging has lines on it, a cool pattern and instructions so you can fold it into a paper aeroplane.
That is cool. I know it's a bit silly, but how fun is that.
While you hope people don't land on your 404 page regularly, injecting something unexpected is always great. I recommend going to Lego, Star Wars, or Dribbble and just adding shipoopi to the end of their URL. Very fun!
A 404 page isn't just functional to tell people that you effectively stuffed up. You can use it re-direct people and serve them in new ways and entertain them.
Another thing you could do is customised packaging outside of the packaging. Don't just put it in a brown box. Put more effort in. If you're environmentally conscious, ask yourself do I need extra packaging? Is it biodegradable and printed with algae ink?
Are the contents well protected? Is there something else you could do? Could you slip in a thank you card? Have you added stickers?
If you are planning an event, is it on-brand visually? Does the tone of voice match? Is it looking like part of your experience? Ask yourself, are you going far enough? Could you double down and make it even better so that people are like, "this is incredible."
In personal meetings, what's your rhythm? How do people meet you? Do you leave them a package?
How can you make the most mundane process an exciting exchange? That's what we need to work out.
Eventually, you'll come away with a huge to-do list that you can chip away at and see what happens.
This is excellent if you're overwhelmed and 'time poor'. A client of mine told me all about this one – chop up some old bits of cardboard packaging. And using a customer flow of person meets BRAND – person leaves a review.
On one side, write down the name of the step (email, phone call, et cetera.) On the other side, write down the message and the tone of voice.
This gives you a satisfying stack of small actionable touchpoints you can chuck in the bin when it's actioned. It's a really cathartic exercise with excellent end results. And way less daunting than having a huge sheet of paper with all these to-do's on it.
Gradually you'll turn a pile of 10 or 12 different things into zero. Keep chipping away at them and see what happens.
I love talking through customer experiences and seeing how you can improve them and make them better through little adjustments.
There's always something you can be more on brand with, more engaged with, and really start working your brand into every little orifice of your world.