Consistency between a company’s brand and service delivery operating model is critical in seeking extraordinary customer experiences. Consistency is a critical element in the successful design of any business operating model for service delivery.
Two simple examples of “coherence” can clarify the concept.
A luxury travel company bills itself as an expert in identifying “the best option” between your vacation wishes and various properties around the world. However, when consumers ask about specific details associated with a hotel (i.e., how convenient is the hotel to the Bilbao Guggenheim?), It quickly becomes apparent that the service representatives are not sufficiently trained or familiar with the features. travel destinations to support a high-end clientele. There is an obvious consistency mismatch between the “luxury” brand identity and the experience or training of the service representatives.
In another case, a major credit card company advertises its service as world-class. However, billing disputes cannot be resolved over the phone or the web, requiring instead written correspondence with supporting evidence collected by the merchant’s consumer. Truly world-class companies handle these same requests over the phone and advocate on behalf of the customer with merchants; require the trader to provide evidence instead of the consumer. Since the bar for service has already been set extremely high, a new entrant trying to attract high-end consumers must meet or exceed the competition’s offerings. Promising a high-level service, and then failing to deliver it, has a more damaging impact on loyalty than setting low expectations and consistently meeting a clear standard.
Consistency encourages self-selection among potential customers, increasing the likelihood that investments in advertising, marketing, and sales will result in revenue growth. A strong and clear brand identity reduces the cost of sales by driving away the vast pool of potential customers who are unlikely to become paying customers.
A clear brand identity that is coupled with a consistent service strategy also sets an expectation threshold that can dramatically decrease the number and intensity of customer complaints, thereby greatly reducing the cost of handling exceptions. Consumers who know they’re shopping the bargain bin at Wal-Mart will have lower expectations than the fashion fanatics who roam the seconds of Manolo Blahnik at Century 21. Sure, they’re only paying $ 250 for Tuccio Watersnake Pumps from $ 725, but I want perfection to slip into that discount wrapper.
The lack of coherence can be evidenced in relatively subtle ways, but these discontinuities are picked up by consumers, consciously and unconsciously, creating a barely perceptible discomfort or discomfort that reduces the client’s propensity to repeat the business. Customer deviations from the standards of fair behavior create, at the very least, excessive marketing costs; In the extreme, this lack of repeat business translates into opposite word of mouth and eventual business collapse. Restaurants, bars and clubs are the Canarian classics in the coal mine for this phenomenon. Without a solid core of repeat business (or extremely high non-repeat tourist traffic), a restaurant without this word of mouth cannot generate enough traffic through advertising alone to stay open.
Consumers easily compartmentalize their expectations and are quite comfortable shifting their demands as they enter different expectation frameworks. Parents can eat at The Fat Duck in Bray (selected as the best restaurant in the world in 2005) one night and take the family to the Outback Steakhouse the next night; still viewing both disparate experiences as completely satisfying. A consumer can drive their Maserati Quattroporte to Central Park for a $ 2 hot dog and feel no dissonance because their expectations are appropriately forked. Travelers can comfortably stay at the Taj, New Delhi, one night and camp under the stars in Rajasthan the next. Consumers do not often demand the utmost in luxury and refinement in every experience, they simply demand that each experience fits within an appropriate framework of expectations.
The brand identity of a company is one of the most powerful ways in which that framework of expectations is established. The service environment that supports the brand is the other critical factor. If the brand identity is diffuse or dissonant, and the service standards are not aligned, then the consumer cannot settle for a framework of expectations that fits and does not establish a pattern of “fair” behavior in relation to that company. Repeat business decreases and the consumer does not provide positive feedback to the word of mouth that is so critical to long-term revenue growth.
By establishing consistency between brand identity and service delivery model, companies can begin to establish a strategy that will lead to extraordinary experiences for customers.
Copyright © 2007, Lotus Pond Media