The Emotional Journey Drives Customer Love and Brand Loyalty

“We need to shift our focus from short-term gains to long-term profitability and growth.”

That was part of the message from Jason Burnham, Principal, Communications & Design, Innovation Lead, Strativity on Monday during his session titled, “Designing Purposeful Brand Experiences,” at the first-ever Customer Expo.

“We’re an interconnected world collaborating, learning, and evolving together,” Burnham told attendees. “The journey is the experience.”

To achieve that lofty goal of long-term brand loyalty, making emotional customer connections are imperative.
The experiences your customers have with your brand have the greatest impact on brand health, reputation, and loyalty. In our socially connected digital world, the voice of the customer is now amplified and magnified unlike ever before, requiring every business to consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience.

This increased social connectivity has also led to increased social consciousness, resulting in greater demands and expectations from brands. Aside from quality products and services, brands must also be values-based, purpose-driven, and engage in a socially conscious way to acquire and retain both customers and employees.

How well a brand emotionally engages its customers, aligns with its values, and exceeds customer expectations will, ultimately, determine the health, reputation, and loyalty to the company.
“The purpose of technological advancement is to enhance the human experience,” Burnham said. “A mobile phone is an extension of self. Brand identity and culture are directly related.”

A brand promise cannot just be words on a wall. It needs to be a “differentiated promise delivered consistently,” Burnham said.

A purposeful brand experience encompasses value creation, brand loyalty, and sustainability.
An undifferentiated brand experience encompasses price concerns, compare brands, and fickle behavior.
“The margins are in the memories,” Burnham said. “The emotional journey drives customer love and brand loyalty.”

Ask yourself: Utility or experience?

In the life of your customers, are you a tool or a partner? How can you be a life partner along that journey?

Burnham outlined design principles to create a purposeful experience:

Easy and timely: Make it a smooth and seamless transition. Respect my time.
Knowledgeable: Anticipate my needs and guide me. Teach me something I didn’t know.
Personable: Get to know me. Tailor the experience to me. Connect me with a genuine brand.
Authentic: Show me that you care and value me.
Memorable: Surprise me. Inspire me.

Purpose-driven teams deliver exceptional performance and evolving to a state of customer-centricity includes an organizational purpose:

The purpose of technological advancement is to enhance the human experience. Celebrate and rewards customer success and instill a sense of purpose in the world.

Platform: How do we facilitate a customer-centric cultural transformation? Provide cross-functional CX coaching and implement crowdsource innovation.

Individual purpose: What is needed to be motivated and intrinsically customer-centric?

Personal needs and aspirations fulfilled; and a belief in the mission, vision, and values.

Practice: What is needed to feel confident and committed to customer-centricity? Free to make customer-centric decisions and use failures as coaching moments.

What’s more, Burnham offered keys to Optimizing the Brand Experience:

JOURNEY MAPPING: How satisfied are customers with their current experience?
MOMENTS OF TRUTH: What are our customers’ greatest pain points and unmet needs?
NEEDS ASSESSMENT: What are our customers’ functional and emotional needs and expectations?
RELATIONSHIP DRIVERS: How can the experience be optimized to build customer love and brand loyalty?
FUTURE STATE INNOVATION: What is the optimized experience that consistently delivers our brand promise?
PROCESS MAPPING: How will we operationalize new processes and tools to deliver the optimized experience? 
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: How can technology help us deliver the optimized experience at each touch point?
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: How will we inspire and empower our employees to deliver the optimized experience?
Burnham added some more keys to remember when designing a purposeful brand experience:
Customer-Centered Design
Cradle-to-Grave Journey
Physical & Digital Fusion
Functional & Emotional Needs
Memories: Loyalty Currency
Culture Change Cascades
Commitment Sustains
Passion & Purpose Deliver

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