Shaun, in the book, you talk about a “Seven-Step Process” that businesses can go through, in order to achieve this ‘on-purpose’ brand. Can you tell us about these steps?
Shaun Smith: Yeah. The first thing to say is that, they’re not magical. There are many different models, and so on, for how you do this kind of work, but it’s a process that we’ve used successfully for many years, and it works.
It starts with engaging the leadership: We said earlier that the most important thing is the way you behave, and not simply what you say, and that starts by engaging the Leadership Team, and getting them aligned and committed to the whole process, because without that, you’re just building on sand.
The second part of it is creating insight, and the insight comes from talking to those valuable customers, to find out what it is that they perceive about the brand, what’s working, what could be improved, what is it that they really like about the brand? So you’re building on the strengths, and identifying where you can overcome the weaknesses.
Insight is also about talking to the employees, too … What do they think about the organisation and the brand? Where do they think the opportunities for improvement lie? You’ve now got some data points.
The third step is then defining the brand purpose and promise. If the organisation has a purpose, that’s great … What we then do is define the brand promise. Now, the brand promise … What is that? It’s a clear articulation of what the customer can expect, and it’s therefore pretty detailed. It’s not something which is necessarily communicated to the customers, but it is, in a sense, a clear articulation that the organisation can use to understand what it needs to do to delight those customers … To deliver the purpose. So, we define the brand promise.
Having done that, we’ve not got a foundation, a blueprint, for designing the experience. Mapping the customer journey, looking at all of the touch points in turn … We then say, “How do you deliver that promise, or promises, along that customer journey? Which are the touch points that we want to make hallmarks, that we want to be famous for? Which are the ones where it’s okay just to be okay? Which are the ones that are of less value for the customers? Which are those which we absolutely have to nail, because that’s really what we’re fundamentally about?” That then leads to the design of the experience, it leads to then the implications for people’s behavior, for process change, maybe even for new products.
All of this is really about getting ready, and now what we’re ready to do is align the organisation, to in a sense, launch it … And aligning is making whatever changes are necessary. It is also about exciting your people; this is now where you would start communicating to your people, “What is our purpose,” and training them. We use a process called “Branded Customer Experience Training.” Most organisations do service training, but it’s vanilla, and we believe that, to really get a distinctive customer experience, you’ve got to do distinctive training … It has to be on-brand. “Branded Customer Experience Training” is a way cascading this right through the organisation.
Now we’re ready to measure, because what we want to do is sustain this, and the way you sustain it is to measure the experience, particularly those hallmark touch points, particularly those areas which are most important, and particularly, the promises that you’re making to your customers. To what extent are you delivering them?
The final part of it then is about innovation, because if you measuring on an ongoing basis, that gives you data, it gives you information about other things you might do, and if you’re engaging with your customers, that also stimulates ideas about what you can do differently, and leads to further innovation. It’s almost a loop – You start by engage, and you finish with engage.
Grant Leboff: Is that linear, in that way, in the steps that you described, it is for an organisation to literally go through those steps? I accept that it loops around, but is that how it works?
Shaun Smith: Yes, it is, and the reason is that you have to create that foundation of leadership, you need to be clear about what your purpose is, and your strategy, because then you can design an experience to deliver it. Which means you can then align your organisation, and create the culture that is appropriate to sustain it, which means you can then measure, and then sustain the whole thing through looping back.
Some organisations rush straight out to communicate their proposition to the customers, and then try and figure out how they are going to deliver it … That doesn’t work. You’ve really got to go through those steps. Are they sequential? Yes. Do they have to be in that sort of strict sequence? Yes and no, because you can afford to overlap things to some extent, so certain things can be happening while others are still being worked on, whatever … But generally speaking, you really want to start with that engagement, work through, and then finish up with the measurement.
Grant Leboff: One of the things that attracted me to your book in the first place was because I fundamentally believe that organisations have to have a purpose, and like we’ve talked about, it cascades from there. There are great companies out there, or companies that have done some great things, without a purpose, but in an experience economy, as we are now in, would it be your conjecture that, without a proper purpose, a proper defined purpose, a company is never going to be able to deliver a great experience? Not a great service or product, but a great experience?
Shaun Smith: I don’t think I’d go as far as to say that, because there are some great organisations out there, and they do deliver some distinctive experiences. I think it’s much more likely that they would deliver that experience, and will be able to sustain it, if they’ve got that strong sense of purpose, but whether they actually have anything written down may or may not be true.
I suspect, if you talk to any of those organisations, that do deliver a great experience, there is a very strong sense of “What are we about? What’s this brand all about? What do we care about? What’s important here?” Even if they haven’t written it down. I am not advocating that every organisation has to go out and write a purpose statement, and stick it on the wall; that’s not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is, though, there has to be a fundamental understanding of what makes this brand different, and what we’re trying to achieve for our customers?
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