Tuesday, August 21, 2007

we need “Initial Brand Experience Directors”

What kind of title is this – many will ask. Is this a joke? Actually it’s hardly a joke, and actually a real need. Think about how many times you opened the box of a new product or downloaded a new program, or signed up for a new service and you had problems. This is the worst experience as a consumer and one that makes us the angriest right? Just looking at my world, this has happened to me twice in the last several days with a highly reputable software product and a leading laptop manufacturer. In reality problems are rampant with consumers when they interact with the things they buy for the first time. Most companies do not pay much attention to what happens at the point of initial experience. Yet everyone knows how important first impressions are. People do not go on dates or meet people for the first time and not pay close attention to the first interactions. People learn very fast when they make others feel uncomfortable, disappointed or unhappy on a first impression.

So why don’t companies feel the same? I think they should. If they were paying attention to the initial brand experience – or first impression – then they would start to take notice of how people are reacting to their brand from the very start. What’s worse is that if you ignore the initial reaction, then you are not able to monitor or measure a very powerful metric – the voice of a disgruntled consumer upon a negative or disappointing initial brand experience. We have all been there – the initial excitement of a new purchase is instantly replaced by anger and disappointment when something goes wrong or you feel confused. What do you do next – like most people you tell anyone who will listen. Does this hurt a company’s brand? Absolutely. No company intentionally wants their new customers to feel disappointed but few try to minimize it at the initial point of impact.

This type of negative work of mouth damage can be controlled and actually turned around. The first step is to recognize that the initial brand experience of your customers is worthy of monitoring and critical to overall net long term health of your brand. How do you go about it – appoint an “Initial Brand Experience Director.” My prediction is that within the first few months, the right person can correct many of the obvious causes that make first time buyers upset. I know such a person can help the two companies that I had issues with by simply asking a few basic questions. We all know that companies want happy buyers – but to complete the value equation we consumers want to stay happy once we interact for the first time with what we bought. Maybe a new social network can spur this movement with suggestions on how companies can improve their first impression.

1 comment:

Yaron said...

Welcome to blogging John!

I'd take your idea one step further - I think that *everyone* in the company should get obsessed with making a great brand experience. The best way to do that is by being the most fanatical user of your own product/service.

Along those lines - it's great to have you blogging, especially with that outbrain widget downstairs!