Eighty-seven percent of customers who have a positive experience with a brand will make another purchase — versus only 17% who had a negative experience. Everyone knows that experience matters. But some businesses have yet to recognise that expectations of experience have changed. Service with a smile is no longer the point, and incremental improvements to customer journeys are not enough. Transforming customer experience to meet customer expectations demands business transformation that goes beyond improving customer relations to enlists an entire network of ecosystem relationships to deliver customer value.
Here’s just one example: Vitality, the health insurer, has thought more broadly about consumer health beyond traditional healthcare delivery. Creating an ecosystem of fitness and nutrition providers to improve customer health habits works out better for the customer, Vitality, and the other providers – all whilst increasing loyalty and engagement.
This is what we call an interaction field – where value is created through a network of business and brand relationships and realised through customer participation. To compete in the 21st Century, leading businesses will transform themselves, their relationships and their interaction field to create value for their brand’s customers.
When you consider the overwhelming cost of customer acquisition, it’s easy to see why companies are investing in ways to grow loyalty through experience. From checking the status of online orders to making decisions about your healthcare, there are millions of brand interactions each day. This allows participants in the whole ecosystem to improve the way services and products are consumed and delivered. Brands that harness the power of positive experience generate excitement in their audience, but they may not do it alone.
Companies are actively creating opportunities that scan beyond the business walls, pulling together interested partners, vendors and collaboration platforms to encourage customers to spend more and stay longer. A recent study by Gallup shows that companies that have active efforts around improving their performance management systems are seeing 26% jumps in margin. It’s impossible to point to a single action taken by brands that are providing an improved customer experience. Instead, companies are finding partnerships in unexpected places — and taking advantage of the value this interaction field brings for internal operations and for customers.
Prospective buyers are regularly looking for trust cues. These cues help ensure that purchases from a specific brand will result in true value. Consumers are more likely to trust websites and mobile applications that are associated with a known brand. This type of authentic interaction often grows organically over time for major brands. Deep engagements are not out of reach for smaller organizations, either.
Today’s consumers expect to have a degree of participation in their interactions with brands. This encourages business leaders to find ways to ensure consistency to the brand message and business standards. Finding strategic opportunities to engage in customer interactions is a powerful competitive advantage for your brand.
Look Beyond Your Business Ecosystem for Opportunities for Change
Business ecosystems are often built on years of interactions between vendors, partners and your brand. Business transformation requires looking for partnerships or ways to shift the paradigm so you can outpace the competition. This could mean bringing together multiple vendors to brainstorm new service delivery models. Another option includes pulling together data to improve insights and provide greater transparency into your processes.
Companies that are able to successfully drive change are those that will create interactions with business partners to improve product and service consistency. Your business partners and vendors are an integral component of your business ecosystem. These companies offer unique opportunities for collaboration and conversation between your brand and your customers.
Adopt a More Fluid and Agile View of Competitive Advantage
In a world where products are reviewed on a regular basis, a competitive advantage no longer relies only on micro improvements or lowered costs. Brands need a holistic view of competitive advantage, one that provides weight to all customer interactions. Managing these interactions requires extensive trust from the community. This trust must be earned over time and through positive brand-to-consumer engagements.
According to Frédéric Mazzella, CEO of BlaBlaCar France, “The building block of society — interpersonal trust — has been transformed from a scarce (one) to an abundant one. Our potential to create value is also transformed.” This shift provides brands with a powerful competitive advantage if business leaders redesign customer interactions. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce brand principles and satisfy consumer needs.
One key way to enhance your business is to work with your suppliers to create a shared ecosystem that benefits each partner. When companies see that you are truly looking for ways to enhance both business models, it opens the floodgates for collaboration. By designing programs that add value to each entity, you are often able to define options that will expand market opportunities. This reduces the need to pry away small pockets of market share from competitors.
John Deere is redefining their market through partnerships with IoT device leaders. These interactions allow the brand to reach outside the realms of equipment manufacturing. Tractors and other heavy equipment helped the brand grow to serve a global impact. Now, these machines are now used to gather proximity data that can be utilized by companies throughout their ecosystem. The additional information helps farmers be more productive in their efforts. These engagements also increase the overall productivity of the system by encouraging greater interactions between market partners.
Explore Ways to Create Cultural Context
One way to explain this connectivity is through the idea of interaction fields. Interaction fields create a gravitational pull of interactions that draw consumers closer to your brand. Creating this type of interaction field requires a strong understanding of psychology and behavioral economics. This understanding allows you to build a frame of reference for your brand that will entice consumers to deeper interactions.
Defining an interaction field often requires deeper analysis and reinvention of business processes to aid customer engagement. This often goes far beyond brand messaging or traditional marketing campaigns to process transformation. A few of the considerations for brand strategists include:
- The motivation of key audience segments
- Ties that can be woven between the brand and audiences
- The collective intelligence that is likely to influence prospective buyers
- Identification of idea carriers: influencers, mavens and individuals with strong personal networks
- General stickiness of the idea being shared, resulting in quality interactions with audience members
- Tight definition of context, allowing ideas to be spread within close personal networks
- The personal social currency that participants gain by sharing your brand or message
Customers must be satisfied with the value delivered by your brand before they are willing to recommend products to their network. These recommendations are incredibly valuable as they expand your brand’s circle of influence. The success of this effort is often defined by a brand’s ability to create an exchange of value with customers.
Providing real and substantial value to customers can take a variety of forms. This could include improving the quality of life or improving a customer’s ability to make decisions. You can also find that reducing costs, energy and time of a product or service helps consumers engage with your brand.
It’s vital to expand these customer interactions from surface emotional attachments to a particular brand or business. The concept of an interaction field connotes a more collaborative approach to brand development. This allows customers to have a voice in defining the future value provided by the brand.
Successful brands will not only provide value to their customers, but they will also derive value from customer interactions and participation. This happens as the brand is fully integrated into the daily life of consumers. This alliance between brand and customer creates a full circle of benefits that provides significant advantages to all parties.
We ALL Live in an Interaction Field
Creating shared value and social benefit through an interaction field may be a new concept for business leaders. However, a closer analysis of your day-to-day personal interactions with various brands may quickly allow the idea to resonate. Collaboration is encouraged between complementary brands, participation and a free flow of engagement with consumers.
Brands can truly disrupt the current status quo and define new market opportunities for growth with these strategies. Consider the connected nature of your daily life, where individual smart devices and mobile applications mesh together seamlessly. These streamlined activities seem to simply fade into the background while saving time and adding perceived value to your life.
There are digital trails left throughout your day. This can include data captured by Google maps or mobile traffic apps or ordering your favorite coffee online. These interactions are proof that we are living our lives in interaction fields — defined by our trusted and favorite brands.
Defining Interaction Fields for Your Brand
Finding ways to enhance these opportunities requires brands to focus on the quality and frequency of potential interactions. Brands are using a mix of experience design and social engagement to accomplish this task. Strategists look for ways to quantify the value that brands deliver to their audience. This allows businesses to amplify the impact of their message to reach a broader and more diverse base.
Brands need to define a full ecosystem experience that offers benefits to each of the participants and allows for evolving conversations. Look beyond artificial barriers or boundaries and instead look for alternatives that offer a holistic view of the business ecosystem. Look for ways to deliver value to customers, prospects, vendors and your brand. Think less of conserving a monopoly, and this is where you will find true and lasting competitive advantage.
There are no easy step-by-step checklists that allow brands to define a more collaborative approach to marketing and experience design. Customer interactions can be influenced by many factors, creating a complex, connected ecosystem between brands, competitors and audiences. Vivaldi Group has deep experience drilling to the heart of business strategy. We look for the defining factors that will provide your brand with measurable and sustainable growth. Contact our team to schedule an initial consultation or workshop at email@example.com. You can also call 212-965-0900 to see how platform thinking and interaction fields can be used within your business
Meet The Expert
Erich Joachimsthaler, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder