How to keep your brand resolutions going

Cossette's Rosie Gentile on why now is the time to try new things when it comes to customer experience.

By Rosie Gentile

A few years ago, I resolved to run a 10K before the end of the year. Like the 80% of people out there who give up on their resolution by early February, it quickly became clear it wasn’t going to happen. But I did manage to incorporate running into my fitness routine, and even enjoy it. It turned out transformation was less about the grand goal than the small steps along the way. I think the same holds true for brands.

This is probably not the year to change everything – it’s a sure fire way to torpedo your efforts, and who has the energy for that right now? But that doesn’t mean we can’t all gently try to do a little better in 2021 for ourselves and our brands. Here’s how I’m seeing some of the most common resolutions for 2021, through the lens of creating great experiences for your customers.

Exercise more

The best way to make a new exercise habit stick is to make it fun and keep things novel. For 2021, why not build some new muscle by figuring out how you can create richer experiences for your customers?

Rather than simply replicating physical experiences online, add some personality to make the online experience delightful in its own the way. It doesn’t have to be big – rather than a standard 404 page, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s error page features a big piece of burnt toast. Instead of a standard ‘contact us’ icon, Tiffany & Co has a concierge bell in its iconic blue inviting users to connect with a live agent.

After the last year, customers are primed for doing things differently and businesses have had a whole year to demonstrate just how flexible they can be. Try hosting a shopping event on social media – make the livestreams shoppable, with a direct drive to ecommerce. Or make those online forms interactive to make a must-do task more fun and true to your brand.

Get organized

Despite our best intentions, most of us probably didn’t spend the 2020 lockdown Marie Kondo-ing our living spaces. And for businesses in survival mode, decluttering may have fallen by the wayside as well. But the basic principle is the same for people and for brands: if you’re not using it, get rid of it.

Take a hard look at your marketing automation, for example – what’s working, what’s not working and what’s no longer relevant in today’s environment? Decide what you can pause, what you can change the frequency of and what you can get rid of altogether. You could even let go of a social media channel that isn’t adding great value to your customer or your brand.

Spend quality time with loved ones and reconnect with old friends

With acquisition costs getting higher and consumer attention increasingly fragmented, activities that drive retention – much like old friends – are worth their weight in gold.

Take the time to review your data from a new angle. What are the moments that matter most along the purchase journey? Where are the satisfaction scores the lowest? Where can you add a more human touch to must-do tasks? Ask customers what they want and need from you, rather than accepting actions like “unsubscribe” at face value as an engagement metric. Just because they’re receiving your messages, it doesn’t mean they’re having a good experience.

Reduce screen time

I know. With remote working, remote schooling and the shift to digital for everything from grocery shopping to financial planning, resolving to reduce screen time seems like a cruel joke.

But hear me out. Even though we’re all shifting to digital, there’s still a chance to add a human touch at the points that matter most. Maybe lessen reliance on the chatbot and create a click to call so customers can speak with a human. Or, curate the online experience for your customers, instead of giving them pages of products and content to scroll through. Having made it through 2020, most brands have nailed the utility piece of going digital – this year, consider what you can do to nail the personality piece and make your brand more human.

The most important part of setting goals or resolutions for me – personally and as a marketer – is to simply get started. Don’t wait for the conditions to be perfect or for the underlying structure to be 100% in place. Don’t wait for the stars to align. Whether it’s training for a 10K race or driving business results by providing customers with great experiences with your brand, nothing is going to happen until you take that first step.

Rosie Gentile is managing director, experience consulting at Cossette