How CX teams can ramp up brand value in a recession


Customer experience teams will have a vital role to play in protecting brands’ revenues this year and in driving recovery after the current crisis passes.

10th Feb 2023

Inflation is hitting CX teams from all sides. Budgets are under the microscope as businesses look for savings, while customer and marketing disciplines face renewed pressure to help retain and attract customers as consumers cut spending and drop brands from their repertoire. For many CX professionals, it’s a case of trying to deliver more with less, and emphasise the true return on investment that CX can have on growth.

And yet CX will have a vital role to play in protecting brands’ revenues this year and in driving recovery after the current crisis passes. If anything, businesses need to increase their CX spend in 2023, not cut it.

It all comes back to consumers’ ideas of value. It’s easy to assume that during times of high inflation people will simply trade down and go for the cheapest brands. But our data shows that this isn't always the case.

For increasingly cost-conscious shoppers, it’s not simply a question of lowest price; what matters to them is finding best value for their money and CX plays a prominent role in shaping this perception. So how can CX teams do their part in 2023 to enhance brands’ image and make sure consumers see them as indispensable?

The value of trust

The first essential thing that CX teams need to think about is how they are building and maintaining customers’ trust. Trust in a brand’s ability to deliver is a key ingredient in how consumers measure value, but this could crumble quickly in 2023.

When households are feeling the squeeze they are likely to be far less forgiving and won’t hesitate to switch their alliance if a business lets them down. Many simply don’t have the money to waste on poor service.

Pets at Home is a good example of a brand that has worked to ensure customers get the same quality and consistency of service whether they’re shopping in person, buying online or using its app.

It has invested in the in-store experience and developed its free VIP club app which provides animal owners with tailored advice for their pets along with personalised, exclusive offers. It’s no coincidence that its active client base reached a record 1.7 million in 2022, boosting sales by 7.3% in the first half of the last financial year.

Staff play a vital role in establishing and protecting consumer trust, and CX teams should make sure people on the frontline are at the heart of their programmes. There’s no point in promising customers the world if employees don’t feel motivated to carry this through in action. A combination of the right training, rewards and recognition should be used to empower and incentivise employees to provide the best customer experience they can.

Of course, things can sometimes go wrong and that is when a customer’s loyalty is most vulnerable. If problems arise, teams need to fix them quickly and keep the customer updated on steps taken to resolve their issue.

Keep moving forwards

The second thing CX teams must consider is how ideas of value change based on consumer needs and expectations. Our data shows that in difficult times, brands that continue to innovate grow seven times faster than competitors, so keeping pace with trends in customer experience will be essential for brands in 2023.

Brands need to be asking themselves, what does convenience mean post-pandemic? How much personalisation is too much or seen as invasive by some people? What does good digital innovation look like? And how does all this fit more widely with what a brand promises to its consumers.

The banking sector is an interesting case in point. We have seen a swathe of new market entrants disrupting this industry over the past decade – with more traditional brands adapting their approach to keep up. During the current economic climate, issues around money, our access to it and how we use it are front of mind for customers.

Our data shows that in difficult times, brands that continue to innovate grow seven times faster than competitors.

Challenger brand Revolut is making sure it moves with the times, updating its CX strategy and providing new services that fit with people’s shifting habits and demands – from rising interest in using cryptocurrencies to the growth of amateur investors.

Our Kantar BrandZ 2022 data shows these efforts are paying off, with customers seeing it as being unique in the banking category and helping the business achieve a valuation of £24 billion in mid-2022.

For CX professionals, it’s a no-brainer that exceptional customer experience sets organisations apart. We then need to prove it to decision-makers, highlighting the role CX plays in brand building and the commercial benefits it brings.

When people leave a shop, website or interaction feeling great about where they’ve bought from, that brand is elevated above its competition – it’s this difference that will drive repeat business and win customers over in 2023.


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