Friday, May 25, 2012

How Do You Test on Forgettability?

Several months ago, I wrote about Delivering the Ultimate Customer Experience. I noted that three of the traits of the ultimate experience are that they are personal, memorable, and consistent. Today's post is on what it means to be memorable.

In a sea of sameness, how does your product/ service/brand stand out? Are you an original? A "me-too?" Are you unforgettable or forgettable?

If you know the movie Princess Bride, you know Inigo Montoya, a great character played by Mandy Patinkin. He is probably my favorite character in the movie, which happens to be one of my favorites. This is a fun and relevant quote from Inigo to get us started on a "memorable discussion."

"People don't remember me. Really. It's not a paranoid thing; I just have this habit of slipping through memories. It doesn't bother me all that much, except I guess that's a lie; it does. For some reason, I test very high on forgettability."

How do you test on forgettability? What do your customers think about their experiences with your brand, your employees, your products? Are they memorable? Does it bother you that your brand slips through their memories? That customers don't insist on your brand?

What does it mean to be memorable? As if you didn't know, "memorable" is defined as worth remembering, unforgettable, impossible to forget, noteworthy, extraordinary, etc. You can only hope that the experiences you deliver are defined as such!

What makes an experience memorable? I think it's the little things. I think little things mean a lot. I haven't written lately about any bad experiences, but I can say this, I certainly haven't had any memorable ones to write about either. Why not? Well, the companies, service providers, and products have done what they were expected to do. Is that memorable? No. Is that a bad thing? No. Well, as long as you're OK with floating in that sea of sameness.

Does memorable always mean good? No. Do you want that kind of memorable? No.

At what point is a customer experience so bad that what's expected isn't expected any longer and becomes the unexpected? Say that three times really fast! In other words, we have expectations of what an experience should be (and hopefully that's driven by the brand promise), right? What if we have so many bad experiences that what is expected is no longer expected - and suddenly what was expected is elevated to the unexpected? Make sense?

OK, moving on...

How can you ensure that your customers are having memorable experiences and not forgettable ones? You must start with hiring the right people. They must understand your brand promise and live it, breathe it, and deliver on it. You must have a purpose, your "Why," and your employees should know it; most likely they do and are already aligned with it, especially if you've hired the right people. You've heard me say it before: Employee passion drives results; but passionate employees are also the ones who will create memorable experiences.

Next, you must understand your customers. Without understanding your customers, you're just stabbing in the dark. Understanding your customers includes listening to them, creating a customer journey map, and using other tools that will help you understand who they are, what their needs are, what their painpoints are, and how you fit together. If you know customers well, it's much easier to meet, and especially exceed, expectations. It's great to do a little something extra, but wouldn't it be great if that little something extra was relevant, too?

And, finally, I think emotions play a huge part in whether or not something is memorable. Connecting with customers on an emotional level will certainly leave a lasting impression. Just like with employee engagement, you cannot force customer engagement. But, if the conditions are right, your customers will form that emotional bond and perhaps become your ultimate raving fans! Here are some thoughts on things that can facilitate that bond; your company...
  • Purpose aligns with who they are
  • Supports a cause that aligns with their values, their lives
  • Is local, localizes, and supports the community
  • Creates a community or a sense of belonging; customers feel part of something bigger
  • Doesn't brag, it just does what it knows is right
  • Puts the customer above all else (after employees); no distractions
  • Does those little extras that create surprise and delight
How does your company align with that list? How does your company test on forgettability?

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