Defining the customer experience

Marketing 101: Defining The Customer Experience

Published: April 30th, 2021

Let’s talk marketing. What images come to mind when you read: Ready. Set. Go.?  

A starting line? Running a race? What about the competition, training, endurance, being sweaty, hard asphalt underfoot, crossing the finish line, satisfaction, winning? 

Three words can go a long way in creating an emotional response when you pair them with a customer’s past experiences and their phase of life. When people mention your credit union, what comes to mind for them? 

An empty-nester couple getting ready for retirement is in a different place than a 20-year-old college student buying their first car on their own. You want to do business with both, but you have to do it with the same messaging. So what do you say? 

In the first article, we covered the significance of having a clear mission that is lived out through each team member every day. Now you need to define what the customer experience will be as they are on the outside looking in. 

Let’s try three more words: Inform. Engage. Grow.

Inform

Do people know that you exist? 

The public’s overall awareness can be the biggest nut to crack. You have to get their attention first. Once you have it, what do you say? 

This really comes down to who, what, when, where, why. Customers will have those basic questions all day long. Of course, knowing your physical address is important, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Make this a team exercise. Have your staff answer these questions about your credit union:

  • Who is _______? 
  • What does _______ do for our customers?
  • When will _______ try hardest for customers?
  • Where will _______ be in the next five years?
  • Why should a customer do business with _______?

If you give those questions to ten people on your staff, would they all come back with the same answers? They should if your messaging is in alignment. 

What would ten customers say to those questions? That’s the gut check. 

You dictate perceived and real expectations every time a customer sees your credit union’s name, and you need to reinforce them when those expectations are met … and exceeded. 

Engage

Okay, you have your customer’s attention and they have decided to do business with you. What’s next? 

How you engage with customers in person and from a distance is the heart of your credit union’s overall success. This is your chance to keep the conversation going with them as you cement your relationship together. What you say and how you say it will keep them coming back.

Are you professional and courteous, fun and casual, uptight and stuffy? Customers gravitate toward a business model that matches their lifestyle. 

Don’t be afraid to flaunt what makes you unique. And be consistent because the engagement level of marketing builds trust. This is a crucial phase in relationship-centered industries. It’s even more important for credit unions because you are dealing with people’s money, and they will not hesitate to leave if that trust is broken. 

Being your customer’s solution means you need to fulfill their needs, wants and values. It’s not about pushing offers, it’s about offering solutions that are relevant to meeting the goals of your customers. 

Grow

You have their attention. You have their trust. Now what? Be patient. 

Marketing isn’t a one-and-done proposition. It’s continuous. It needs to be fresh. You don’t buy a plant, put it in the kitchen window and hope for the best. To have every opportunity to grow into something strong and beautiful, you make sure it gets sun and water.

How does business feel at this very moment? Thriving, stagnant, or subpar?

If you’re doing a good job to inform and engage with meeting customer expectations, you’re doing great. The sales cycle takes time. Brand loyalty takes longer. If things are stagnant or subpar, it’s time to make adjustments. Reconsider how you present your credit union, push through any barriers and convey a strong message in a customer-centric way that garners attention to bring people back.

The benefits are obvious. Happy customers, a stellar community reputation, and a bottom line that exceeds expectations each quarter.

More importantly, when your customers are proud to do business with you, they are quick to tell others to do business with you, too. These are your Brand Ambassadors that we will cover in our third and final article. 

Take some time to assess your site’s current health and well being. Don’t shy away from any dark corners. They will hold you back. 

Marketing isn’t mysterious, it’s straight ahead hard work that requires great self awareness and the courage to hold you and your team to high standards. (But it’s worth it!)