Many years ago, while heading up a product marketing group at AT&T, I learned the successful marketing is about 2 things: content and packaging. Most of the time, packaging wins on influencing decision-making over content, especially with Consumer Product Goods. No one looks at labels to see what is in the box of a product. Instead, we are heavily influenced by the packaging and brand. In the early days, the Brand was strong enough to influence decision-making and the packaging radiated the brand that supported all promotional marketing effort.
For example, I still buy Tide soap at the supermarket. Why? My mom used it so it is a familiar, comforting brand. Also, the packaging got my attention … it just looked right with orange bottles. I found that this also works for all kinds of food related products. I was a victim of packaging design. But, something changed as people started to focus on experiences a while back.
Over 10 years ago, customer experience came into play and I found my purchasing decisions influenced by the experience I had during the purchasing and use of a product as opposed to the packaging. My expectations had to met and clearly Amazon has been working hard on spoiling me. Was the purchasing process easy to use? Was customer service available and supportive when needed? Was I able to get prompt returns when a product did not meet my expectation?
Was my experience good before buying it, using it, and afterward and was I emotionally satisfied? The experience became the product and I attached the experience with the product’s brand.
In the business world, I like everyone else, have become so busy that we have little time to waste. Frustration is in ample supply during the day so, as I engage with a vendor that minimizes my frustrations or helps me along my customer journey, I feel better. Now a product must do its job and make me feel better. In fact, I will buy a slightly more inferior product IF the customer experience is superior. Experience is the new packaging and experience still beats content on the decision-making process to purchase.
Good experiences will continue to keep me buying from a vendor because this is how I see the company’s brand. If the company has a good brand (in my mind), then it has a good brand. Good brand = good experience, which means I feel better.
In a world of chaos and frustration, companies are trying to be more customer-centric and deliver better experiences but they are finding their back office operations hold them back since they have not fully embraced Digital. The back office cannot keep up with customer experience initiatives, which results in misfires. Amazon was born Digital so expectations are high. If I find a vendor is not Digital when purchasing, I am probably entering into a world of hurt and frustration leading to multiple bad experiences. Offering good experiences and embracing a Digital mindset in your company are essential components to develop a strong brand in the customer’s eyes.
So, when designing your product, also design the customer experience you will provide. Make sure your business model supports your strategies and tactics. Since customer experience programs require a dynamic, flexible back end, use digital tech to enable your operations and systems to support your CX programs.