Many companies and online marketers nowadays recognize the importance of Customer Experience. Tailoring the product or service to wishes and problems. While it's super important to consider, there's still a lot left on the table. The customer and / or user-centric approach has been around for a while as a tool for designers. That is why it has emerged as a buzzword in “Design Thinking”. But how can we transcend this thinking, for designers, marketers and business owners alike? Now the first step is not necessarily at the product level, but looking at the brand as a whole.
A vision centric brand is an ideal starting point for business operations, marketing, sales and making choices. The following is therefore actually a limited basis for brand strategy. The importance of connecting your product, the customer and transforming it into something tangible. Choices that tie in with improving your client's experience and go one step further.
There are basically 3 levels to take into account:
The “low tier”; what does your product or service offer. Here you can think about features that combine into functions that translate into benefits. This is something especially technical startups love. The great thing about this model is that you can look further into higher level benefits. So that you see the functions of your product or service in a different light.
The pitfall, however, is tunnel vision, by only focusing on functions and functions. This is well illustrated in Nokia versus Apple, where Nokia actually lost ground because they kept pushing functions instead of focusing on the needs of the customer.
The “middle tier”; something that is often explored with personas. So looking at the needs and wishes of the customer, but also pain points, behavior and context. The holy grail of knowing how to derive value from the product-needs combination. The result, if worked out properly, is a well thought-out user experience on multiple levels.
This is on two levels, customer and user oriented. You could see the customer as the broader persona, to whom your brand focuses and with which you want to connect. And the user, who could be your customer, but also other people based on insights.
The “high tier; where the combination of product belief and customer insights are converted into something tangible. A place where you can actually differentiate and build a brand. It is also called 'the why' of a company. Something bigger than the products they make or customers they serve. A simple way to explore this is to answer the following questions:
A world where ...
By helping people to ...
Now every company or brand will use at least one of these tiers in their business operations or marketing. And they can be used individually or together. You could describe the purpose in this as follows; "Building a lasting brand, by better understanding yourself and your customer." By actually helping your customers and being able to communicate this clearly by clarifying your values and vision, you build relationships and your brand gets a personality.
How can this be applied?
Let's take Tesla as an example:
Product-centric: Our cars have functions such as automatic doors, autonomous driving and a self-cooling “dog mode”.
By using technology optimally for the convenience and peace of mind of the user.
Customer-centric: Tesla's customers are mainly early adopters and techies. Which are also concerned with the environment. An example of an insight that Tesla could have come up with is:
Driving green is important, maar electric cars are often boring.
vision-centric: A world where we are the most attractive car company of the 21st century, forerunners of the global transition to electric vehicles.
Mission: By helping people to to transition to sustainable energy.
Because Tesla knows who they are and who the customer is, they can focus on both functions and messaging that connect precisely. Among other things, this results in a unique customer experienceas well as one that is super consistent. From the social media posts to the actual driving in the car.