It was an apple that famously gave birth to the theory of gravity. In 1666 a young Isaac Newton was in his mother’s garden in Lincolnshire when an apple fell from a tree. Newton wondered why such bodies always moved downwards, rather than sideways or upwards – and the theory of universal gravitation was born. I have had a similar experience but involving Apple rather than an apple. While working on a Digital Transformation project, I was struggling with the limitations of CRM or ERM initiatives. Companies are rolling out technologies to enhance their customer relationships in order to gain more insights, to interact more often, to push information or to collect more data. In the case of ERM, companies are deploying solutions to enable each employee to access information more easily, more frequently and to share it efficiently. However, the adoption rate can be low or the added value to the user not obvious.
Thinking about the reason why, and analyzing our mania for the Apple corporation and its products (I too am a devotee), I realized that Apple, strictly speaking, has poor CRM (for example, they can’t tell you what you bought, where you purchased it). However, this doesn’t matter. Because what Apple has realized is that this isn’t important – what is important above all else is the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.
And we can be very clear that Apple excels in terms of experience. Apple has infused the company’s core value — Excellence; Empathy to customer needs; Simplicity of use; and a Willingness to admit to being wrong — into all potential interactions with customers. These core values are consistent over each channel: the design of a website; the simplicity of a process (such as replacing a broken device); the sympathy of the call-centre employee…
Apple is not only declaring its core company values, but delivering the promise in a way customers can feel, touch, and appreciate. An Apple customer is engaged with the brand in both an emotional and rational manner. When companies are only declaring their brand values, but are unable to deliver the promise, or have a HOMOGENEOUS & COHERENT cross-channel and digital experience, the customer becomes disconnected and disengaged.
The challenge of delivering this ambition is huge. It entails transposing the company’s values into the customer experience, both physical and digital. If one of your values is Purity (say of design), then you need to find a way of embodying that in your website. It needs to be reflected in your social networks and in the way your staff dress and communicate and behave. It truly needs to be holistic.
In the end, if you can make it work, the customer is able to recognize and appreciate a brand without seeing the logo or the name. They recognise it in the tone of voice of the retail store employee; delivery staff; the digital interface design; the shelf layout. Focusing on delivering an enhanced, consistent and coherent Customer Experience across all interaction points is the key to success. And digital is another opportunity to deliver that promise.