Don’t Forget the Process

Consistency is everything in business, or so we’re told.

You want your brand experience to be consistent, then make sure everyone’s doing the same thing, saying the same thing, being the same thing.

At least, that’s the way we’re led to believe “best” practice lies.

But I’d like to challenge that thinking.

I’m not a frequent visitor to McDonalds, but I know I like ketchup on my Big Mac. Asking for it and getting it, however, is a battle of verbal wits between me (the human) and them (the brand experience front line). I often have to repeat myself to get what I want. More than once. The truth is that it’s so ingrained in them what the process should be that they forget there’s this thing called a customer, usually a human one, who comes and interacts with the process, that they forget to actually listen.

It’s the same at the supermarket. Do you need bags? (Even though you’ve just plonked several right in front of them, and are now standing armed and ready to pack them with your shopping). On the odd occasion when I haven’t plonked said bags, I have been known to wryly comment that my juggling skills are good, but not that good. I know! I’m supposed to say “yes, please” to which they will respond that the bags are 5p each and how many would I like.

But it’s exactly this kind of “brand experience” that makes me want to stick pins in my eyes, run out of supermarkets screaming or cause rebellious chaos in the queue at McDonalds.

How utterly unreal, impersonal and unaware can we make a brand experience?

Compare to a recent trip to a hotel restaurant in which I had a delightful interaction with the server whose self deprecating style got our business lunch off to an hilarious start, whose warmth and personal service continued throughout the visit making the whole experience distinctly memorable. So memorable, in fact, that if I were to pass him in the street, I’d probably recognise him and say hello.

That, to me, is what a brand experience is all about. Not a cleverly scripted process that eliminates the human element of the interaction.

The next time you sit down to see how your business can deliver better brand consistency: stop and think. It’s may actually deliver a better “experience” to instill strong brand values and encourage your people to focus on serving the customer and whatever needs they might have. That’s what it’s all about, after all.