This is where you find out just how strong your brand really is. The Customer’s Experience. Because compared to this, it doesn’t matter what you say, it doesn’t matter what kind of fancy slogans you come up with, or how big your media buy is, or even how your CEO comes across in an interview. What matters is,
Did the customer experience match the expectations you set?
Did the customer feel that you and your product did what you led them to believe it would do? Or did you somehow come up short?
What are the dimensions of the customer experience?
Does it match the expectations we created?
Were there any expectations you did not create, and did you meet or exceed them?
How does the customer’s experience with your product compare with your competitor’s?
What will customers say about you as a result of this experience?
Was the experience strong enough to provoke referral, preference, or both?
These questions probe the relationship between the first three brand building steps, and the inter-dependence of all three become clear. To the extent that the customer experience can be understood, how does it match the expectations that were created? Are there some expectations the customer had that we did not create — the result of market dynamics, culture shift, or competitive pressure — and did we meet or exceed those? How do we stack up against our competition? And the last two, what will customers say about the experience, and was the experience strong enough to provoke referral, preference, or both, leads into the fourth and final stage — Evaluation. But before we go there, I’d like to give you and example of just how powerful the customer’s experience can be, and why it’s so important.