Brands are created by companies, but it’s the end customer who ultimately determines what the brand means to them. So, how do customers come to truly understand a brand and what it stands for?
Service brands are experienced on a personal level, with employees engaging customers during one-to-one social encounters, but many firms fail to include employee-customer interactions in their brand strategies. Because human-delivered services are performances and can vary from employee to employee, firms can find it difficult to create coherent experiences that drive home their brand imagery in a consistent manner from customer to customer.
For several years, I was part of a research team at Arizona State University that explored what brand managers can do to overcome this challenge. Through a series of consumer behavior experiments and a large-scale critical incident study that included dozens of service industries, we tested how customer brand experiences can be made more consistent through the behavior of frontline service employees. That is, we examined how service firms can recruit and train employees to internalize brand imagery in order to authentically bring the brand to life with customers in what we call “branded service encounters.” Continue reading →
Innovation is often cloaked in some degree of mystery – a black box where “change happens” and the world is transformed. Success is often fleeting, and, when failure does occur, there is usually a multitude of views as to what went wrong, with the only commonality being “it was the other guy’s fault.”
Why is it that some inherently good ideas fail and some rather questionable ones seem to stay around forever?
Recently, Raghu Santanam posted in a Center for Services Leadership blog that innovation must take into consideration issues of consumer capability and consumer involvement. This resonated with me. Both of these issues speak to the need to have a customer-centric approach – trying to understand the situation from the perspective of the individual/organization undergoing the change. This does not negate the importance of the views of internal stakeholders, but it underscores the importance of willful and deliberate customer adoption of a new offering. I would like to build a little more on this theme.
I published a book a short while ago based on extensive consideration of existing research as well as examinations of successful and unsuccessful change initiatives. In the book, I laid out a number of fundamental elements that must be present in any successful change context. Let me cover three of the more critical factors here.