Today a brand isn’t just an identity mark; it communicates a promise about a product, a service, a company.
Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) is the collection of processes a company uses to track, oversee and organize every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the Customer lifecycle. We are getting smart about optimizing the product or service experience for our customers at every touchpoint in a customer’s journey.
Forester Research states that a Customer’s lifecycle begins with the Discovery stage. In the Discovery stage, a customer is exposed to a new fundamental need. A company’s brand positioning and story, product and marketing strategies and content should be all aligned to fulfill that need.
I believe, a customer’s lifecycle begins with the LISTEN stage that is much prior to the DISCOVER stage and is ongoing. The LISTEN stage is when we are discovering customers’ interest in our brand, products or services as we plug into social and mobile conversations or when we interact with the customer for reasons other than trying to engage them to use our products or services. When a customer is sharing or following or liking or interacting with your brand’s content on social media, when a customer is integrating your brand’s content in their online stories or content, when the customer is a candidate who has applied for a job within your company or is interviewing for a job within your company etc.; each of these are valid examples of a customer’s interest in your brand and/or products and services but maynot include any direct or indirect engagement with the products or services. These are the type of opportunities where you have the complete attention of the customer on your brand but rarely do companies use that opportunity to establish an emotional connection with the customer.
We now live in an age where the experience is the product, and the product itself is merely a souvenir of that interaction the customer has with the brand.
People remember experiences much more than they remember the product. Emotions tied to brand experiences influence current and future decisions related to products and services of the brand even though those experiences were unrelated to engagement with products or services of the brand.
This article focuses on a single example within the LISTEN stage of a Customer Lifecycle and the opportunity that a company has during their recruiting process to create a connection with the customer, so that she/he forms an emotional bond with the brand and also has a better perception of the customer experience management philosophy of the company.
A candidate did not have a good “recruiting experience” with the company. She/he was provided a request to interview at a short notice, requests for additional information in preparation for the interview were responded much beyond 48 hours during a work week, recruiters had an attitude when they spoke to her/him, the candidate was kept waiting between interviews because of meeting overruns of the interviewers, results of the interview were communicated after several weeks and she/he was not selected. In some cases, she/he was not notified about the results of the interview until the candidate reached out to the recruiter and was informed so. In a real life situation, a candidate may sometimes have one or more of such experiences during the recruiting lifecycle.
The company has developed a productivity improvement mobile app. With a need established, the candidate who had a bad recruiting experience with the company WILL NOT PURCHASE the company’s product and is more likely to select a competitor’s product even if the competitor product is offered at a higher price point. It does not matter if the experience was most recent or in the past.
The company is a consulting company offering business and technology services. The candidate who had a bad recruiting experience with the company WILL BE DEFINITELY INFLUENCED TO NOT SELECT that consulting company when she/he has the power to make decisions and is presented with a competitor who offers similar services as the consulting company with whom she/he had a bad recruiting experience. It does not matter if the experience was most recent or in the past.
I used a sample size of 60 random people working at different levels within an organization to share these hypotheses with and the results were exactly as what I had expected. The results proves both the hypotheses to be true and also what I had originally stated;
” Emotions tied to brand experiences influence current and future decisions related to products and services of the brand even though those experiences were unrelated to engagement with products or services of the brand”
Results of the Hypotheses (Only a subset is included in this article)
“In future if I have a choice between the product of the company I interviewed with and a competitor product; it is very likely I will use the competitor product. The company with whom I had a bad recruiting experience makes me believe that if they cannot manage a simple interview process, they are not a well managed company and cannot manage the marketing or sales processes effectively. If you hurt your candidates, you may hurt your customers. If you hurt your candidates, you may not even take care of your employees who are your internal customers. ” – an employee from Drchrono.com, a healthcare Electronic Health Record platform company.
“If both products meet my needs, I will not buy the product from the company with whom I had a bad recruiting experience but will buy the one from a competitor even if the competitor product is little expensive than this company’s product. Emotions associated with a bad experience stay on for the longest time.
I will definitely choose the other consulting company over the company with whom I had a bad recruiting experience to provide services to my company if both offer similar services.” – an employee of Apple Inc.
“I definitely will choose the other product and not the product from the company with whom I had a bad recruiting experience. The bad experience will stay with me for a long time. Companies have to understand that it is our emotions that drives us to select their product. If they do not care for us, we do not care for them.
I would like to choose the consulting company that will be the best for my employer. However if one of the shortlisted companies is the one with whom I had a bad recruiting experience in the past, I will definitely be influenced by my past experience and choose the other consulting company over this one. I am not sure how my experience with them would be if I am a customer requesting support for one of their products or services. ” – an employee of Foothill College
“Definitely without a doubt I will choose the competitor product and company! ” – an employee of Frost & Sullivan, a research and consulting company.
Additional information about the sample used for this research
1. 80% interviewed were men and only 20% were women because there is a general bias towards women being driven by strong emotions in making decisions at work.
2. The people interviewed were in varied age groups and were mostly in the age group of 30-50 years.
3. 100% of the sample population were in agreement with both of these hypotheses.
In conclusion, I believe that the recruiting process of a company offers a huge opportunity for a brand to make lasting connections with people; customers or prospects. The bad experience that these candidates have during the recruiting process clearly stays on and influences decisions they make that definitely works against the brand. On the other hand, very good experiences during a recruitment process may make such candidates the best advocates for that brand even though they may not consume the products and services.
One of the companies that understands this is Intuit which amongst the companies I have interviewed with has offered one of the best recruiting experience to me as a candidate. Right from the time a recruiter approached me, their respectful and professional interactions with me, communications for preparing me for the next steps before and during the interview as well as providing information on how the results of my interview will be shared and timeline for the same, documentation provided to me for everything from company values, to the details of interviews and expectations & profile of each of the groups that I was interviewing with and more; all of these small steps within Intuit’s recruiting process were designed to make me comfortable, show that they care for and were willing to accommodate me to ensure I am able to perform at my level best during the interview and showed empathy, care and respect for me as a candidate at all times. I have no doubt that Intuit uses the same values in ensuring both their internal and external customers have an optimal experience associating with them and their products.
To summarize, a customer experience management strategy should include optimizing an experience for a customer/prospect at all those touchpoints where they may not engaged with the product/service but definitely with the brand. The emotions associated with these experiences will stay on and will influence their future interactions and associations with the brand and products/services.