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India 2016 | Thought Leadership | Brand Experience

Consumers expect brand experience to be great, and will post their verdict
Inspiring employees to deliver on the brand promise is the key
By Shradha Bhatia
Strategy Consultant
An inspiring, succinct brand promise is at the heart of every successful brand. It’s the larger-than-life raison d'être, the change that the brand wants to bring to the world, the sincere commitment that sets it apart from the rest. But today, making the promise is not enough. Brands have to keep the promise, too.
The advent of new Indian brands, the influx of foreign brands, and the growing acceptance of new retail formats and models mean that Indian consumers are thoroughly spoiled for choice. Thanks to technology, they’re also more connected and empowered than ever before. The rise of social media has changed the way that consumers interact with brands. People can appreciate brands that delight and deliver on their promise. They can also call out brands that don’t. Indeed, almost half of Indian consumers use social media to praise a brand for great service experience. On the flipside, almost two-thirds have dropped an intended purchase or transaction due to poor customer service experience.
This behavior is amplified among Indian millennials. They are digital natives who navigate new technologies and social platforms with ease. They are also compulsive over-sharers, especially when it comes to personal experiences. They have no qualms about sharing their perceptions of brands and their experiences with them, whether good or bad. In this way, millennials hold brands to higher standards than any prior generation. Brands can no longer hide behind a well-written purpose statement, because millennials can and will look past it. The imperative? Don’t promise more than you can deliver. And deliver on what you promise. Experience is everything.
Business-to-business brands shouldn’t underestimate the power of experience either. Especially in markets that have typically been driven by the price game, a differentiated brand experience can be completely disruptive. In fact, when it comes to the impact of B2B customer loyalty drivers, sales experience counts much more than even the value-to-price ratio. If the experience is the greatest differentiator in decision making (greater than all of the other factors combined), why aren’t more B2B companies focusing on it? It’s time for them to start.
The first step to creating a memorable brand experience is to internalize the promise. If employees are expected to create a memorable brand experience for customers, they must first imbibe and live the brand themselves. After all, they are the brand custodians. Every single interaction with the customer is an opportunity to keep the promise and drive loyalty. As consumers begin to engage with brands across multiple touchpoints in different ways, it’s absolutely critical that brands are able to meet them wherever they are and keep the promise every single time, through focused and consistent brand experiences.
Brands that want to stay ahead must strategically map out all of the touchpoints at every stage of the customer’s journey with the brand, and identify the critical touchpoints where creating a brand experience will create value for both the customer and the company. Brands that are able to do this and deliver their promise at every step of the way are the ones that will get ahead and stay ahead in the years to come.