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Customer Experience:the Keys to Stand Out

How can I stand out in a highly competitive market? How can I establish special connections and build a shared culture with my clients? How can I wow and move them? According to Anaïs Guillemane-Mootoosamy – executive director of strategic planning at W agency where she’s in charge of strategic planning and innovation – the answer is as simple as three letters: BDX, standing for Brand Design Experience. The communication expert believes brands now need to invest new scopes to create a unique brand experience. Interview.

Enjoying a special experience with a personal shopper in a L’Oréal store in Shanghai, booking a fitting room online with the items of your choice in one of Nike’s House of Innovation located in Paris or New York, using the Scan & Go app in Décathlon to avoid wasting time during your shopping, getting a spa treatment in Lush shops with their trademark scent… All these moments make up what we call the brand experience. It ranges from the retail experience to the customer service online, from the buyer’s journey to the product’s usage itself – the brand experience comprises all the interactions, relationships and contact points between a brand and its clients. “It’s conveyed through a universe, an atmosphere, a type of connection,” explains Anaïs. “It’s the brand’s DNA, it’s what’s fueling its vision and making it desirable to the consumers.” And because it’s linked to emotions, the brand experience is reflected through an array of details that will move your customers at very different levels depending on their profiles, their wants, their background, etc.

A Play on Familiar Senses

Beyond anything relating to service – a seamless shopping experience, personalized tips on product use, a unique offering, etc. – the brand experience aims to engage the customers, cashing in on their emotions, sensations, and perceptions. “To do so, brands are exploring new scopes and new contact points with their customers. While social media is already oversaturated, they invest more and more in the sensory field.” Signature scents, for instance, are blossoming. “We know all about Lush’s, but Sofitel also developed its own.”

Sound design is also a part of the experience, whether it’s a signature or a playlist shared with a community of customers. Mercedes recently published its “Iconic Playlist” compiling all the songs citing the brand in partnership with Radio Nova, Adidas curates a playlist for catchy running sessions, and Air France offers a playlist of mellow sounds for a relaxed and soothing journey. These are examples of brands tapping into cultural familiarity and emotions. “We know customers who have emotional ties to a brand buy more products, and more often,” adds Anaïs.

They also care less about pricing and are more prone to recommending the brand, as documented in a study published in the Harvard Business Review. As a result, for a brand, the value of an emotionally connected client is twice the one of a highly satisfied client. “That’s why investing in this scope should be made a priority.”

From a Seamless Journey to Personalized Services

Sensory experiences are only one aspect of the relationship between a brand and its customers. “These last few years, brands have mainly been focused on offering their customers the experience of a seamless, smooth, and simplified journey. The quality of the shopping experience – faster, more intuitive – has greatly improved.” And various industries drew from these best practices through emulation. “We can now consider it to be a mainstream approach. But what really makes a difference nowadays is striving for individuality. Seamless has become brandless! It doesn’t stand out. The best experience you can offer is now one that can tend to all of your customers’ – and future customers’ – needs. When you add up details, you add up different tastes and feed the brand’s cloud branding. We’re almost crossing over ethnographic territory.”

This approach relies on a thorough knowledge of your customer’s desires, aspirations, and consumption habits, making data collection and analysis crucial to the personalization of services and experiences.

On the Hunt for Positive Frictions

Unforgettable, surprising, exhilarating … and anything but dull. The quality of shared moments depends on their originality, on the small attentions that will revolutionize your customer’s habits. “And a smooth and seamless journey is not the way to achieve that. On the contrary, we’re looking for the opposite of seamless. A great brand experience is one that will be remembered by creating positive frictions and serendipity to surprise the customer.”

A quirky tone and a whiff of sea spray to select your fish, like on Poiscaille’s online shop, an unpacking à la Apple to acquire your new credit card, a real wine cellar offering a cozy atmosphere in the middle of a supermarket thanks to Intermarché, etc. “You just need to find your own lever, your trademark. A great experience won’t make for a better product, but one thing’s for sure: an experience that’s not properly thought through is a huge loss of value,” concludes Anaïs. Companies that have invested in standout experiences can attest to it: they perform better than the ones that haven’t (+6 points, Accenture study).

• 85% of consumers expect to get a personalized experience and yet only 10% of companies think to offer this type of experience (source: Fevad, News Innovation from LAB Fevad n°77 March 2023).

• 80% of customers claim that the experience offered by a company is as important as its products and services.

• 40% of buyers spend more than they planned to when the customer experience is personalized (source: Business Impact of Personalization in Retail).