If I were to ask you to describe a moment in time where you could clearly map out all of the various influences that were there to impact a decision, could you do it?
As an activity, try walking into a store and attempting this. Stop at the entrance and do a 360. What do you see, smell, and hear? What do all of these make you feel? Close your eyes and think of all of your personal memories that impact that have impacted that feeling. Now, consider all of the other “stuff” out there in your environment that has impacted your personal memories. By now you’ve probably got a pretty long list that includes conversations, ads, commercials, web interactions, emails, mobile apps, reviews, etc.
All of these “things” make up your environment by which you are using to perceive the world.
|Photo credit: http://synapticnulship.com/|
As it’s now near impossible for marketers to “control” a company’s brand image, they must now influence by priority aspects of the buyer’s environment that intertwines with logic and emotion to create a complex web that we know of as perception.
Influence The Environment, Influence The Experience
Let’s take a look at your environment in detail for a minute. Your world is made up of selected slices of information that you’ve collected over time. You are more impacted by some more than others (information that comes from your best friend or your trusted advisor you might hold closer than the person who sits 2 cubicles away, for instance). As well, your best friend might have a large sphere of influence where selected information trickles back into your world.
Companies can impact logic and emotion by consistently meeting their needs (here’s a previous post on the need to get “the basics” right) and affirming their decision to work with you. Unfortunately, that’s only a piece of the picture. The web of information that makes up your customer’s perception of you has become critically important to your ability to maintain loyalty in the marketplace.
Prioritize Influencers By Impact
If you start listing out all of the possible influencers out there, you will soon have an extremely long list (just like in the activity above). In order to filter your list by where you’ll get the biggest bang for your time, ask your customers first who they trust when they are looking for advice about the services or products you provide. You’ll be surprised at how forthcoming your customers will be if you just ask.
Next, focus on general industry thought leaders – analysts, large online communities, bloggers, reviewers, and authors. Not only do they have the potential to become a powerful word-of-mouth network for you, but they can also give you honest feedback about how you compare to your competition.
Do your customers flock to social media? If yes, then let that be your next project. If not, you might want to consider holding off and instead spending time optimizing your web presence to make sure you are showing up in the right searches and understand where else people might be talking about you.
Next, we’ll talk about Customer Experience Truth #5 – The Law Of Diminishing Returns Applies To Some, But Not All, Customer Experience Initiatives.