Is a branded experience more important than customer-centricity?

Question customer-centricity
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Does it make more sense for brands to 'delivering a branded experience' (i.e. when a brand delivers its promise) instead of 'putting the customer at the centre of everything they do'? 

Margaret was beautiful; David was a promising young writer. They met five years ago in their mid 20’s, fell in love and began living together.

A few months later Margaret started to complain: David was too focused on writing and didn’t spend much time with her; he wrote slow and the income wasn’t enough to support a decent living; he was out-of-shape and didn't care enough about his appearance.

David decided to change: He drastically reduced the time spent on research, reading and thinking, and wrote as quickly as possible; he also began hitting the gym with regularity.

For the next two years, David earned much more, got in shape and spent more time with Margaret; she expressed her delight at the changes on a monthly basis.

However, things began to sour in the third year. The attributes of David that Margaret had initially found attractive were gradually evaporating: his laser-focused concentration at work had vanished and his deliverables were no longer outstanding.

Now, in Margaret’s heart of hearts, David isn’t the same person she had admired five years ago. Margaret wanted to be honest with herself: she lost her feelings of affection for the new David. She broke up with him.

Did David do anything wrong?

  1. He put Margaret at the centre of his life, listened to her and changed accordingly.
  2. He got positive feedback (data) from Margaret every month for those changes.
  3. He split his time (resource) from ‘focusing on work’ to ‘Margaret, work and gym’.

What a sad love story! It could be a sad brand story too.

Just like when a brand is being customer-centric, listens to customers, makes data-driven decisions and tries to satisfy critical needs of their customers. It looks like a perfect role model in CX (customer experience).

However, it might devastate your brand if you forget who you are and what you stand for. For example, when the Starbucks’ experience became fast and efficient – but no longer relaxing and enjoyable – at the expense of the Third Place.

Does it make more sense for brands to 'delivering a branded experience' (i.e. when a brand delivers its promise) instead of 'putting the customer at the centre of everything they do'? 

Is a branded experience more important than customer-centricity?

About Sampson Lee

Sampson Lee, founder of Global CEM and creator of PIG Strategy

Sampson founded Global CEM and invented the Branded CEM Method that was first licensed in Belgium and the Netherlands. With content based on Lee's invention, Global CEM has run the world's 1st customer experience (CX) certification program in 19 international cities and certified CX professionals across six continents.

The next CX certification training workshop will be conducted by Dr. Brownell O'Connor in Frankfurt, Germany, Europe on Sep 23-24, 2019. Early Bird Expires by Aug 11 >>



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30th Oct 2018 10:38

It's an interesting analogy and observation. I think what David (the company) failed to do in this example is to understand the real needs Margaret (the customer) had and the drivers behind them. In addition a collection of seemingly unimportant faults in the customer journey may have occurred without being addressed and accumulated into a rejection.

Thanks (1)
31st Oct 2018 03:20

Hi Olga,

In another post on the same topic, Sariffah Salwa Ahmad Nassir suggested David to use ‘selective listening’ to address Margaret's complaints, “David doesn’t have to change everything as per what Margaret wanted. He should maintain what’s unique about him and what makes Margaret falls for him in the 1st place!”

I couldn't agree more.

In my opinion, you don’t have to seriously address any customer complaint unless it has fallen into the unacceptable level of your target customer or is related to your brand promise.

Thanks for your response.

Thanks (1)
03rd Dec 2018 05:08

Well, come to think of it, these 2 terms can never really be an item can they? A successful brand providing services should have the best of both worlds in order to reap rapid success. The brand needs to cater to consumer demands while at the same time staying true to the brand. Is that even possible? Well, I guess it is entirely up to the brand to bear in mind what can and cannot be done to produce great results and achieve a great response concurrently.

Thanks (0)
18th Dec 2018 06:04

Well said, David!

Let’s assume you’re running a company offering the lowest prices – your brand promise – in your industry. Although your customers persistently complain that the level of your service is not as good as your rivals’, they continue to buy from you for your product's pricing. All options for improving service close to your rivals' standard will significantly drive up your costs.

What would you do when wearing these two different hats – “branded experience” and “customer centricity” – respectively?

Would you have the same response no matter which 'hat' you put on?

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11th Feb 2019 08:15

very much agree!

(though I also think each company needs at least a treshold level of customer centricity in the first place).

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11th Feb 2019 11:06

Hi Rien,

Yes! For instance, if your product cannot satisfy certain needs or wants of your customers, no one will buy from you and you’ll go bankrupt. In a broad sense, all surviving companies have “at least a threshold level of customer centricity in the first place”.

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