Thursday, March 8, 2012

Customer Experience Rules

In my research for this past week's posts I came across two great blogs: Stage Two and 3rdIdea. Both of them had postings based on Dustin Curtis and the Twitter storm he started with a letter and a site re-design of If you aren't familiar with the Dustin Curtis story here is a short synopsis:

Dustin Curtis (interface designer by trade) became so infuriated with the poorly designed and confusing site that he not only decided never to fly with them again, but also to write them a letter describing his experience on the site.  His Dear American Airlines Letter can be read here. He also took the time to give them a quick re-design. After David posted his letter, an American Airlines employee (one of the site architects) contacted him and stated: "You are right. Our site is a mess." Of course Dustin posted this, and low and behold, fired the employee - even though Dustin never mentioned him by name, AA figured out who it was and fired them. The story ended up going viral, picked up by mass media. American Airlines didn't do a great job at reaching out to customers, or handling the press firestorm. Eventually it blew over.

The major piece to take from this story? Customer experience/engagement is key. In the world we live in, one voice can make a difference, because one voice can become thousands depending on who is listening. Dustin Curtis said it best:
Customer experience is the new brand.
I’m not referring to a brand as a logo and a typeface. I’m referring to the new kind of brand, the one is formed by the entire experience of a customer’s interaction. That experience gets branded into his or her memory and leaks into the buzz of modern culture. If you can’t make a good customer experience from start to finish, you’ve failed to generate brand value that will attract customers to come back for repeat business and tell their friends to come back, too. That’s how good customer experience directly affects the bottom line.

This rings true for customer service, customer experience and experience marketing. Everything needs to fit properly. Everything needs to be brand appropriate, fall in line with target audience and customer behavior, engage and ultimately work in order to make sense. You can build a beautiful marketing campaign, fill it with  quirky gimmicks, buffer it with stellar PR and advertising, but if at the core the customer experience isn't up to par, it won't work. And in the case of Dustin's customer experience example, you lose the customer.  As I said in my FLAWSOME post last week; you have to engage your customer correctly. You have to be authentic. You have to be transparent. You have to be willing to receive bad reviews and even publish them and then own up to them and show how you are changing - or why you made the decision to stay the course. Dustin is right. Customer Experience is the new brand, and Customers can make or break your brand in as little as 140 characters.

[image via 3rd idea &]