Managing the Customer Experience: Turning customer into advocates

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Managing the Customer Experience: Turning customer into advocates
M.Saadat, Student (University), Netherlands

Authors: Shaun Smith – Joe Wheeler
Publisher: Financial Times- Prentice Hall
ISBN:0 273 66195 7

Managing the Customer Experience: Turning customer into advocates Book Reviewer: Maryam Saadat Master in Imagineering – The Netherlands A book about the concept of loyalty and advocacy in customer experience which define everything simple and easy.
You should take your new glasses to see the main subject of the book which is called “Brand Customer Experience”. What is that?
As a new generation of customers, we are looking for suppliers who go beyond the basics to meet our “unique needs” which we call it a “Brand customer experience”, a service experience that is international, consistent, differentiated and valuable.
The authors have an especial attention to Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation and every development of brands through the years is based on Maslow’s hierarchy.
For example, at the beginning of the twentieth century, brands were a mean of identifying products. Our need of safety and security were creating the brands, for example Gillette was a “safe” razor and according to Maslow’s hierarchy, we were at the basic level of reaching security.
During the time, brands became more aspirational and visible sign of success. We wore them like badges. In the other hand, brands were talking about “wearing a lifestyle” and people express themselves through their cloths and possessions. For example, in 1990s, driving a BMW was as much about making a statement about who they were as was wearing a NIKE.

This means of expression has grown through the years. In today’s economy, brands say something about our values and our lifestyle more personal and according to Maslow’s hierarchy; we are reaching the self-actualization level.

Therefore, “Branded Customer Experience” is needed for consumers to be fitted to their unique personality and instead of “customer satisfaction” companies should attention to “customer loyalty” that, little by little, becomes and remains “customer advocacy”.

Smith and Wheeler show two routes to create the “Branded Customer Experience”.
1. Experiencing the brand: The beginning point is making a brand through the company and its values in a mature market, then the values will turned into a promise and the final step for company is to deliver the promise.
2. Branding the experience: To create an innovation experience for customers, then branding it. This innovation experience should be unique and in an extreme form of branding the experience, sometimes you cannot see an obvious visual identification. A good example of extreme branding experience is St Martin’s hotel in London, which is existed but you cannot find it unless you know it is there but, this hotel and its three restaurants are always fully booked.
“Branded Customer Experience” has an especial management model to help the companies to answer this main question, “who are our most profitable customers?”
In this model, all personnel and components of company are trying to show their products in a valuable, unique and distinctive way. The most important process is about knowing their customers’ behaviour. Maybe this interesting sentence is the best definitions for “Branded Customer Experience”:

“It is not about customers being loyal to you. It is about you being loyal to your customers. You earn loyalty by giving them.”
Being a Master student in “Imagineering” leads me to be critical about everything and seeing even a question from different aspects.
During reading this book, I came up with some questions which were related to “Imagineering” roadmap -which are Inspiration, Creation, Exploration and Organization- but when I continued my reading, I could see “Imagineering” roadmap clearly and this clarity was more tangible for me when I saw “Branded Customer Experience” management model in chapter two.
In my opinion, this model can show all the four phases in Imagineering. Fortunately Smith and Wheeler explain every part of that in details with interesting examples.
(Inspiration)Mentioning all people and stakeholders in an organization, (Creation)being unique, creative and innovative for customers, (Exploration) providing experience to meet the needs and expectations of customers, (Organization) Knowing the advocate customers and communication with them are showing the four phases of Imagineering.

During our study, we have learned that how much a traditional business model can be dangerous for a company in 21st century. By reading this book and seeing all the real examples that managed their customers into advocates, I could understand it more clearly.

Smith and Wheeler taught me that answering this question for a company “how much more profit a company can make if it has customers who cannot imagine doing business with anyone else?” is not a dream. This book was a kind of reviewing the last three blocks of “Imagineering”. I could see that how crucial is to have a two-ways relationship for a company to be successful, in compare of the other competitors, and reaching this kind of relationship cannot be done without knowing your customers “story”.
I truly believe that “You earn loyalty by being loyal to your customers” is all about “Social Constructionism” which is about interaction and respecting each other as a company and consumer, because they show that great brands are not build through advertising but by experience and value they offer consumers.

This book is an easy to read and very useful for all busy managers of companies who are willing to know about new business logic especially that there are a lot of tools and questions that can help managers to answers about their own company.

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