As humans we need consistency, we crave it, our lives would spin out of control without it.
Imagine going to work and all your files on your computer are not in the same folders that they were yesterday. You would probably freeze, panic, freak out some more, then call IT with a look of desperation and hope on your face.
Or, what if suddenly your favourite friendly coffee barista is suddenly rude and short with you, it could leave you confused and probably frustrated or angry.
Imagine looking at your wage stub and suddenly there is 50% less than last month, It would be very off putting and disturbing – to say the least.
This is why businesses strive and add great importance to delivering a consistent experience for their customers.
Go into any popular high street coffee shop and then visit the same store elsewhere in the country or even the world and you will more likely than not have a very similar (if not identical) branded experience. Before you enter you will recognize the logo and exterior design of the coffee shop, it signifies that this is the right place. You are going to get what you are seeking the way you have come to expect it at the price you are use to paying. As you walk through the door you are welcomed by a familiar looking, and smelling interior and are greeted by a barista wearing a familiar looking uniform. The drink names are the same, the pastries are the same, the merchandise they sell is the same. You know what you want and you get it, time and time again. It is easy, stress free and it leaves you feeling satisfied and fulfilled.
You get the point, consistency is important. In fact, when executed well, it is the critical foundation for a successful and profitable brand.
Customers who have a consistent positive experience of your company will return for more. In fact, they will return time and time again. They will become loyal customers and will bring others with them to purchase your product or service, enrolling them to be part of your ‘brand tribe’. Sounds great, and it is, but there is a downside. Customers today can probably purchase your service or product from your competition (especially with the ease of the Internet). Customers are very loyal until something interrupts their experience and then are very willing to jump ship and give their business to your competition. This adds extreme importance and often pressure for your company to ensure that a positive experience is being delivered consistently time and time again, without fail.
And don’t forget about your staff. Brands are built as well as destroyed at the employee level. It pays to keep them, and to keep them happy. Staff retention is very important. A company can spend a lot of money rehiring and retraining a consistent flow of new employees – which can also effect workflow and company moral. Staff, appreciate consistency for all the same reasons as your clients do. Ask your staff what the company can do to enhance their experience as an employee. When people are included they feel like they matter, like they are making a contribution, both will lead to increased loyalty and a happier workforce – which in the end will benefit the bottom line.
Every member of your staff from the janitor to the CEO are equal in the eyes of a successful brand. You could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a successful advertising campaign but if someone experiences poor service from the receptionist or agent over the phone, it can cost you the business and erode your brand equity and reputation.
Where in your business are you not delivering the same branded experience?
Consider how and when a customer comes into contact with your company. These ‘contact’ points are called ‘touchpoints’. Are your customers receiving the same branded experience via every touchpoint. If not, question what needs to change, is it a retraining of a staff member, or maybe ensuring that your logo is used exactly the same on all your corporate and marketing materials.
As your business grows or the business environment around you changes certain touchpoints will no longer deliver the required corporate message and branded experience. Simply re-align it. If you are unsure of what needs to change and how, try asking your customers or staff what would work for them, or hire a communication and design company to assist you in the process.
Below is a list of just a few touchpoint categories that you can to look at (in no particular order). As each company or industry has it’s own unique set of touchpoints, you may want to add to this list.
As an example, how does a ‘speech’ deliver your brand message? It could be a public speech, a business presentation or even a speech to university students. Question every detail of that speech, what different elements could leave people with an experience or a judgment of you and your company. For example, the following will leave people with a certain impression: your clothing (could be too casual or too corporate), how you speak (interesting, boring, or even inappropriate), your PowerPoint presentation (is it designed well or is it consistent with your handouts and other corporate materials) to mention just a few. Put on your detective hat and really inspect every touchpoint.
Once you have obtained consistency across every touchpoint your clients will become loyal brand ambassadors, returning for more and more.
At the end of the day, being consistent is an ongoing endeavor and it takes repetition to get a brand message to stick. Often at the point that you are becoming tired of a campaign or message is when it’s starting to have a real effect with its intended audience. Be patient, loyalty takes time to build.
In summary, be consistent, consistent, consistent. Then be consistent some more.
Some touchpoints for you to explore:
WORD OF MOUTH
VOICE MAILS / ANSWERING MACHINE / TELEPHONE
ENVIRONMENTS / OFFICE SPACE
PHYSICAL WORKING SPACE OF HEAD OFFICE