“The most important component to the Apple experience is that the staff isn’t focused on selling stuff. Its focused on building relationships and trying to make people’s lives better.” Ron Johnson, Sr. VP Retail Operations- Apple
Your personal brand is your customer’s overall experience of you. A consistent experience- from their first impression to the follow up and beyond. It can be the difference between satisfied clients and unshakably loyal customers who can’t wait rave about you. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary.
Let’s consider some top names in customer experience, like Apple, Nordstrom, Disney, Starbucks and Zappos. My research found that these companies take a page from each other. Recently one of my clients, a prestigious real estate developer in Los Angeles, was awarded Best Concierge in the US by The Wall Street Journal. As I toured his properties, the Director of Concierge Services shared that they had learned elements of their valuable culture from Disney and that in turn, Disney had asked to tour their properties to gain access to theirs.
You may be asking, what does this have to do with your personally branded customer experience? Sadly, there are a many experts/businesses whose services and products are high quality, but they’re missing the mark when it comes to the customer’s experience. What might they be missing? It comes down to company culture and systemized implementation. Think of creating a relationship-based, serve first, brand aligned culture within your company, whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team of 1,250. With every fine detail ask yourself, “Will this touchpoint serve and enhance my customer’s experience? Will it make them feel valued? Is it brand aligned?”
One of Mickey Mouse’s 1o Commandments is to Wear Your Guest’s Shoes. Take a step into your customer’s experience. Begin with their first touch point. It may be their first impression of you personally or it may be a visit to your website. Do they feel welcome? Are they clear about what you offer? Are you clearly communicating what you stand for? What problem your services will solve? As they begin to work with you, are your communications clear about your process? Don’t leave any of those details to chance. Create a system of touch points such as these:
1. Welcome them. Welcome them warmly with a personal email or voicemail that lets them know you are excited and invested in stepping into process with them. Thank them for the honor of working with them and be sure to let them know that you and/or your staff are available to them.
2. Clear communication. Create a step-by-step description of the process/timeline you use. They’ll know what to expect and it’s yet another opportunity for them to experience a touchpoint. Be sure to let them know that their experience matters and that they should feel free to reach out if they have any questions. Then, be timely in your responses.
3. Personal touches. This is one I especially love. As you interact with your client, pay close attention. Take note (written notes so you won’t forget) of details like their spouse’s name, a vacation they might be going on, their big presentation next week. Shoot them a text of encouragement, congratulations or well wishes or simply ask them about it the next time you speak. These simple gestures build strong relationships.
4. Give a gift. Principle 3 of The Starbucks Experience is Surprise and Delight. I must say, this is also one of my favorites. Send a beautifully branded, hand written notecard of appreciation. You may want to include a $5 gift card and treat them to a coffee or a personally branded token (in alignment with your field of expertise) that will enhance their experience. For example; I might send a sparkling, elegant ballpoint pen w/stylus in a black velvet pouch or a sleek sewing kit for on the go.
If you are a product based business, include a little extra when you ship your product. My clients receive their products in a beautiful silver padded envelope and are always delighted to find something special inside. Not sure what to give? I reach out to Wearable Imaging, who provides custom designed promotional products for companies seeking creative ways to make a lasting impression. www.WearableImaging.com.
5. Keep in touch. Even if your work is complete, continue to send them resources you think might enhance their personal brand. It can be a simple as a link to a blog post about their field of expertise. Birthdays are a great way to touch base and continue to build relationship. Everyone wants to feel special.
This is one topic I could write a novel about! Be sure to keep one key element in mind. Gaining clarity about your personal brand and what compels your clients/customers to choose you is your competitive edge. It’s the common thread of you that will highly personalize all of your customer touch points. The beauty is that your clients, from their first impression and beyond, will feel like the experience was personalized by you, just for them.