It is all too easy for utility providers to fall into the trap of providing just another commoditised service, not just in the eyes of the market but more importantly the consumers. At the heart of these services is normally a set of indistinguishable choices that instead of creating an emotional connection can generate negative sentiment towards a brand.
Focus on the big picture and people’s emotional needs.
Short term thinking by definition can only lead to incremental change; vanilla solutions that fail to differentiate one experience from another.
You shouldn’t look for the quick fix, the paths of least resistance that ultimately only end up improving the small things, whilst ignoring the bigger picture. A guiding vision is critical to know exactly where to focus finite resources for maximum impact. Specifically, your vision's purpose is to create a coherent customer experience that adds up to more than just the sum of its parts.
It’s when you step away from the reactive troubleshooting of the present that it becomes easier to identify what is truly meaningful and relevant in people’s lives. It goes far beyond simply just satisfying people’s physiological needs and desires. This approach will only ever raise the ‘baseline’ of an experience. To really stand out from the crowd you must go above and beyond people’s expectations.
What we recommend
Here are three things that we believe can help drive emotional engagement and differentiate your brand in the eyes of your customers:
01. Build a powerful story
Create a strategic vision, a narrative if you will, to drive a coherent, meaningful and joined up customer experience, that sets you apart from the rest.
Organisations and brands that don’t have a view on the future will always be playing catch-up, putting them at a significant strategic disadvantage. You need to make sure you stay relevant in people’s lives by telling a compelling story that resonates with the aspirations of your customers.
02. Create anticipation and build memories
Of course, you should always be striving to raise the baseline customer experience of any service. By focusing on the joys of anticipation and the warmth of remembering, you can create two moments of emotional ‘highs’ that bookend an otherwise very uninspiring process driven experience. Addressing these moments either side of what might traditionally be considered the ‘main event’, can open up the potential to interact with customers in new and exciting ways.
Why not start creating more opportunities to enhance and lengthen the customer experience in the moments leading up to, and after the ‘main event’? A very simple yet powerful example of building this into everyday interactions can be found in the indoor cycling studio class ‘Soulcycle’. They have designed a space termed as the ‘crossover’, a narrow corridor outside every studio that gives people about to start a session a taste of things to come, whilst providing an audience for those who’ve just finished.
03. Create new and empowered customer centric roles
Create roles for people that allow them to exceed customer expectations and focus on offering value added services. This transforms an otherwise transactional role into a high touch point experience. It will also increase opportunities for frontline staff to turn mundane moments into delightful experiences e.g. ‘Dreamweavers’ at Eleven Madison Park, ‘Gurus’ at a local O2 store, or a ‘BMW Genius’. In fact, research suggests job titles can have a profound effect on employee identity and the way in which staff interact with peers and customers alike.
Of course, it’s not all in the name, but also in a set of implicit guidelines and behavioural frameworks. These will empower your staff to use their discretion rather than explicitly trying to boil it down to a formulaic procedure. This makes it possible to better equip frontline staff with a customer centric mind-set from the offset, with the tools to take care of customers rather than just processing them.