“Today, the brand experience is not just about the hands-on product or device encounter, it also applies to the whole consumer engagement.” This is the perspective of David Krajicek, the CEO of GfK Consumer Experiences North America. In his recent article, A Marketer’s Guide to Usability – Perfecting The No-Hassle Brand Experience, he cuts right to the heart of the new marketing challenge for health and human service organizations – how do you market to consumers who are making judgment decisions during every interaction with your brand? His recommended new theme for positioning and branding is “usability” – “the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction of using a particular…service to achieve a certain goal.”
Why is this important to health and human service organizations? The obvious reason – customers have more choice and there is more competition to serve them. To paraphrase Mr. Krajicek, “Gone are the days when systems could dictate experiences; now, experiences must dictate systems” and consumer service processes – in order to create a positive experience. It is the entire experience and not just the final outcome – from the reservation to the interaction with team members to getting the bill – that defines our perceptions of quality service. This is true whether we’re talking about a restaurant, a hotel, a bank, or a health center.
But, to get successful experience, it is important to set consumer expectations, which itself is largely about messaging. Consumer experiences and satisfaction, and revenue/sales are so intertwined that marketers’ success relies on customer experience. How can marketers make a difference?
Reach out across silos – Your marketing and business development team should be involved in service delivery design and evaluation. It’s easy to think that the usability of each service or product is the responsibility of only that department producing or maintaining it. As a marketer, this is the wrong mentality. You need to be involved in your brand no matter where in the organization it originates.
Be mindful of the expectations around usability – Your messaging (in print, in social media, in one-to-one communication with customers) should set reasonable expectations about service. It’s easy to talk a “big game” about usability, and it’s easy to claim you have it. But if you give consumers that expectation, you need to deliver.
Focus where it matters most – Use customer research to determine what matters to customers and where to focus your service experience improvement efforts. Making small, incremental changes across all products and services might work in the long run, if any of your consumers stuck around for the long run. It’s far better to choose the services consumers use the most now, and focus on improving those as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
When you really have usability, flaunt it – Identify where your service is better than customers and use it for both positioning and brand messaging. Once you have delivered usability and have a strategy for meeting consumer expectations, let consumers know it is available.
Create a conversation – Use every channel to communicate with customers continuously, and respond to their comments. Web-based and mobile technologies can turn your brand into an interactive dialogue, delivered in the channels your consumers are already using to communicate. But only if you reach out to your consumers to find out what it is they want, and how you can improve the services you offer.
How does your organization stack up? Of all the market research tools, I still think that consumer experience research, often known as “mystery shopping”, is one of the most valuable tools for marketing teams (see Good Customer Service? Take A Walk In Your Consumers’ Shoes).
And, for more on branding in the health and human services space, check out these resources:
- Can Your Management Team Answer These Three Questions About Your Brand Name?
- Three Components Of A Communication Campaign
- New Thinking On Non-Profit Branding
- Marketing Communication Plans for Non-Profit Organizations: Understanding the Audience Is Key
- Using An Integrated Marketing Communication Strategy To Get Better Leverage From Your Communications Investment
If you have questions about increasing the usability of your brand as part of your marketing efforts, contact me at email@example.com and facebook.com/openmindscircle. Remember, the impact of any small portion of your branding efforts is often extremely small – but “cumulative effect” is always large.