Our beliefs guide us, define who we are and determine our futures. We choose our friends with care because it reflects who we are and what we stand for. We vote for politicians because we believe in them and trust them to do the right thing.
We are attracted to the brands we love for the very same reasons. The brands that stand out and endure bring customers AND employees together around shared beliefs — they’re the brands that everyone can believe in.
People don’t buy brands; they join tribes
We don’t purchase a product simply because of the features and benefits. We no longer buy products just because they make us feel a certain way. We now buy brands because they reflect our values, beliefs and aspirations — they help to define and clarify who we are. The brand value proposition has evolved to include self-expressive benefits which accommodate a deeper and more meaningful connection between brands, customers and employees.
- Functional benefits are based on product features and benefits that provide the customer with functional utility.
- Emotional benefits give customers a feeling when they purchase or use a particular brand. It adds an extra dimension of richness and depth to the experience of owning or using the brand.
- Self-expressive benefits allow someone to communicate who they are and what they stand for, a symbol of a person’s self concept.
Beliefs vs causes
Beliefs should not be mistaken for causes; they are much bigger and more powerful. A brand’s charity efforts, sustainability or gender equality, are all great causes, but a belief is about buying into an entire ecosystem of purpose, values, code of conduct and self-expression.
Beliefs dictate how we connect and why we connect with the brands we love. When the customer and employee experience align with your organisation’s true meaning and purpose, the result is a brand people believe in and want to join.
Closing the gaps
Brand experience (BX), employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) often exist in silos, where departments operate in isolation. Organisations can close these gaps by developing a unified and aligned strategy that taps into shared beliefs that will create sustainable growth. Forbes data shows that businesses prioritising and aligning their EX and CX efforts double their revenue growth.
In short, the better the employee experience, the more likely you are to attract and retain talent, and the more likely you are to deliver better CX — better CX means improved customer loyalty, advocacy, and growth. Thought-leader and business guru Tom Peters encapsulated this succinctly “Excellent customer experiences depend entirely on excellent employee experiences.”
Four simple steps to aligning your employee and customer experience
Organisations must rethink their current experience silos and recognise that aligning customer and employee experiences around a shared belief will create lasting value.
1) Purpose over profit
Clearly define and promote your organisation’s purpose. A purpose is about achieving something more together and uniting employees and customers behind a common goal. Look at what the world needs, what your customer wants and what you offer. A purpose is your North Star and will help you make confident EX and CX decisions and guide everything your organisation does.
Read our article on how to uncover your brand purpose.
2) Live your values
One way to connect the employee and customer experience is to adopt values that are relevant and important to both groups. Having a brand purpose is all very well, but if customers are going to believe it is authentic, your employees must embrace it and bring it to life through your brand values.
Read our article on how to build your brand from the inside out.
3) Start at the top
An aligned strategy should start at the very top of the organisation and not simply exist in siloed departments such as HR and marketing; it’s the responsibility of business leaders to support everyone in the organisation. When you elevate customer and employee experience to the leadership level, provide equal priority and work together holistically, you will deliver exceptional experiences for everyone. Leaders need to lead by example; the way they treat employees is reflective of how employees will treat customers. Leaders must communicate a sense of purpose and constantly reinforce the organisation’s values.
4) Simplify and focus
People want experiences that are easy to understand, transparent and honest, and care for and meet their needs. In an ever-increasing era of complexity, the brands that keep things simple will succeed. Simplification can work across many areas of your organisation, for example:
- Brand proposition: most marketplaces are brimming with me-too brands — a differentiated and clear positioning will help you stand out against the competition, be easier to understand and more memorable.
- Simple experiences: the tendency is to assume that more means better, but the reality is less is more. Simplifying and designing seamless, hassle-free experiences will improve employee and customer outcomes and help everyone get on board.
- Brand touchpoints: organisations often spend countless hours and a bucket-load of money on using every single brand touchpoint; by doing this, they are simply adding to a sea of noise in customers’ lives. We recommend focussing on the brand touchpoints that will help your brand stand out most effectively; after all, it’s better to out-think than out-spend the competition.
Read our article on brand simplification.