Is Your Brand Producing Memorable Customer Experiences?

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If a customer experience isn't remembered, did it really happen?

Producing a good customer experience is table stakes for marketers; producing a memorable one, however, is easier said than done. At last week's Sentiment Analysis Symposium in New York, Howard Lax, president of the consultancy The Lax Group, said that 75% of customer experiences leave no lasting impression.

While some marketers may consider the customer experience feel-good gobbledygook, Lax said these experiences shape customers' relationships with brands and drive economic value.

Consider: If a customer has a positive brand experience, that customer will likely develop a preference for that brand. That brand will then win that customer's word of mouth and wallet share, Lax explained. In fact, he said that customers with high preference are seven times more likely to stay a customer, 15 times more likely to spend more, and 20 times more likely to recommend a brand.

If the customer doesn't remember a brand experience, however, then that customer can't enhance his relationship with that brand. As Lax put it, “If it isn't remembered, you can make a case that it doesn't even matter if it ever happened."

Granted, customers are bombarded with so many brand experiences that it's impossible for them to remember them all. The secret to cutting through the clutter, Lax said, is to create an experience with an “emotional hook.”

Unfortunately for marketers, Lax said negative brand experiences are “stickier” in consumers' minds than positive ones. However, creating on-par experiences can be damaging, too. Customers who have neutral feelings towards a brand have a lack of attachment, Lax said, which can lead to a lack of preference and lack of performance.

Still, marketers continue to deliver mediocre experiences. Lax cited data by research agency Kantar TNS that found that just 17% of consumers polled were “enchanted” by brick-and-mortar experiences, versus 14% who were “disenchanted” and 69% who were “unaffected.” The data also revealed that only 14% of respondents were “enchanted” with their customer service experience, compared to the 22% who were “disenchanted” and the 63% who were “unaffected.”

So, how can marketers do a better job of tracking customers' emotions and better determine how these emotions impact their customer relationships and experiences? Lax said there are a number of conscious and neuro measures marketers can take, including asking customers open-ended and closed-ended questions, observing  eye tracking and facial coding, and conducting speech analysis or association tests. However, he said issues of complexity, scale, cost, speed, and even ethics can make these measurement methods difficult.

"We have all of these measurement sticks," he said, "but they bring with them some real, real challenges."

Nevertheless, marketers mustn't let any feelings of frustration hinder them from producing emotionally driven and memorable experiences.

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