By Dean Horsfield
The idea behind creating a highly functional customer experience appears to be simple enough: Process, Product, and Price are three pieces of the puzzle that for years created the best customer experience.
- Process: Brands need friendly customer service, an easy to navigate website, and industry leading technology;
- Product: They also need a roster of unforgettable and must-have products;
- Price: And let’s not forget that by offering the lowest possible price you can put a lot of smiles on people’s faces.
But what’s missing for many companies is that fourth piece—an often elusive element: Purpose. Now more than ever, a brand needs to have a clear and recognizable purpose, not only as a differentiator, but as a core component to the customer experience.
Product, Process, and Price used to be enough
Product, Process, and Price were once the industry standard on which a company could build upon for future success. Marcus Lemonis built an entire show called The Profit around these three core concepts. He took derelict companies and proposed to fix them by figuring out which of the three elements was missing.
For a long time, the three Ps were all companies needed until a new consumer demographic came waltzing in, demanding just a little bit more—actually, a lot more. And these consumers have made sure to hold brands accountable that aren’t satisfying a desire for this new element: Purpose.
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Millennials set the stage
Generation Z accounts for 40% of global consumers, and this generation grew up with arguably the best customer experiences of all time. Over the past 20 years, companies have bent over backwards to deliver the three Ps to their customers: creating industry leading products; providing rock-solid processes through top-notch customer service, shipping and returns, websites, social media, etc.; and offering the lowest prices. This all came to be thanks to the generation which proceeded Gen Z: the millennials.
Brands that did not uphold the highest standards in Process, Product, and Price would be ripped to shreds in a matter of minutes by this highly connected and influential consumer group. Love them or hate them, millennials created a framework for the most accountable and responsive corporate society of all time.
Generation Z watched their older millennial siblings and parents cruise the online world with ease, cherry-picking products and brands at will. And in turn, this liberation became something that Gen Z has always taken for granted. They see the world through a different set of eyes.
Having an amazing Process, Product, and Price is like saying that a coffee shop serves coffee—it is expected. If your company doesn’t already have a clear strategy on how to compete on these three Ps, then you might need to go back to customer experience 101. What we are talking about here is next level.
Back to Generation Z. Having grown up with the entire world at their fingertips, there are few tangible ways a company can improve upon their customer experience—that is with the exception of the highly intangible “Purpose.”
Purpose is something that is more akin to a feeling than a tangible element, yet to Gen Z it is just as important to their customer experience as the three Ps. Companies with a clear purpose are more likely to be successful versus those that don’t.
Brands with “Purpose”
Here are several examples of how companies have incorporated “Purpose” into their customer experience:
- Allbirds Shoes is crazy successful because its purpose is sustainability. The company makes all of its shoes with natural materials, and if this lines up with your values, then buying the shoes can be an amazingly rewarding experience.
- Interface makes carbon negative floor tiles. If you are all about reducing your carbon footprint, then going negative will make you feel like a million bucks. The experience of standing on a product in your home every single day that contributes to a greener world is a customer experience that extends well past purchase.
- Patagonia released the now famous “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of fast fashion. This was not to sell jackets but to help line up Patagonia’s purpose-driven company with customers who share a similar vision of the future.
The examples go on, but the point is clear. Without Purpose your customer experience falls short in the modern era of consumerism.
So what is a brand to do now?
This is the surprisingly easy part—figure out your “why” and then pour gasoline on it. There will be people who hate you for your position, and once that happens, you know you have truly found your why. The simple fact is in order to have people fall in love with your brand, you have to be ready to piss a few people off.
Having people hate you may seem like the opposite of providing the best customer experience, right? Nope. The more you can filter out those who do not fit with your brand purpose, and fill your social media and stores with people who do believe in your purpose, the more like-minded people who will show up. Being surrounded by people who share the same ideals, morals, and beliefs is the way that brands not only create the best customer experience; it is how they build brand loyalty.
So now, here is the real secret to this article. Of the four Ps, Purpose is the only one that will create brand loyalty in the modern era. That’s it. People can always get a better product, a better service experience, and a better price, but a strong purpose that resonates with your audience can’t be found anywhere else.
Now get back to the office, desk, beach, coffee shop or wherever it is you are working from and start developing a clear vision of your brand purpose. Communicate it, breathe it, live it, demand it. Your customers will love you for it.
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