In our predictions for CX trends in 2020, we discussed the need for brands to carefully consider their purpose and values, as customer behaviour evolves and brand loyalty becomes more difficult to guarantee. Values should be at the core of any brand strategy and can define and shape the brand’s relationship with its customers. In fact, according to research, 66% of customers think transparency surrounding core values is one of the most attractive qualities an organisation can have.
Living brand values externally
The UK-based mobile network Giffgaff has built its brand on the values of trust and community. Customers give feedback and participate in the development of the mobile network in multiple ways, such as an active forum for service improvement and new product suggestions. By including customers in the development of the brand, Giffgaff has both continually improved its offer and created a unique relationship with its customer base, who have a strong sense of “buy-in” and brand loyalty. Similarly, the neo-bank Monzo has focused its efforts on the values of trust and transparency, creating a transparency board and a forum where customers can share their thoughts. This has offered the brand a competitive advantage by getting constant customers’ feedback as well as their trust despite the financial services industry being among the lowest trusted of all sectors.
Living brand values internally
Although brands need to clearly communicate their values externally, it is equally important to integrate these values internally among their staff. Because customers’ expectations are increasingly exacting, they require brands to be transparent and to visibly put their promoted values into practice in their daily operations. Brands can take a reputational hit if they fail to live their values: Audi, for example, promoted a feminist, equal pay-focused campaign during the Superbowl while not having any woman on its executive board. Embedding values internally can also have a direct positive impact on customer experience: Premier Inn is a well-loved chain in part because it achieves consistently high staff satisfaction levels, and invests in training its people in the core value of its brand (to foster a welcoming environment where customers can get a good night’s sleep).
Rebranding: a difficult exercise
Redefining values is an important challenge companies will face, and it can be particularly difficult for brands to successfully align their identity with those new values. Organisations can look to those who have successfully adopted and embedded new values, such as Nokia, to see how this has impacted Customer Experience for the better. The brand has invested in Artificial Intelligence tools to provide a personalised customer experience by following customer’s journey touchpoints, preferences and predicting customer satisfaction with insight data as well as tailoring their offering to costumers needs, resulting in a jump in sales.
While brand values will clearly remain a hot topic, it is also clear that many brands are still failing to consistently embody their values and deliver authentic customer experiences. When British Petroleum (BP) rebranded its logo to represent its new green strategy, it faced critics due to the polluting nature of its business.
Since then BP has continuously faced critics on the gap between its actions and its marketing strategy: following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, its logo got transformed by people as a form of protest and it has been repeatedly accused of greenwashing. Despite efforts to build and embed a green strategy within the brand, the organisation has failed to truly implement and associate itself with sustainable and environmentally friendly values to the public, creating a negative customer experience.
To be successful, organisations will need to use the right methods to define the appropriate and relevant values – clear communication of these values internally and externally as well as alignment with both identity and strategy – if they wish to provide a positive experience for customers seeking brands with purpose and authenticity.