Customer Service Brand Building: Why Creating an Unforgettable
Customer Journey Matters

04/04/2024



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Over the last eight months, there isn’t a single conversation I’ve had about television that hasn’t included a shoutout to The Bear, especially it’s second season and a particular episode titled Forks. In the episode, one character, the beloved Ritchie “Cousin” Jerimovich, goes to work at a high-end restaurant in Chicago, tailing its staff for one week as they deliver one exceptional customer service experience after another. The entire episode is a triumph that allows you to see the power of providing a remarkable customer experience.

Hulu's "The Bear" has an exceptional example of customer service in its season two episode, "Forks."

What you watch unfold over 34 minutes is how customer service not only impacts how customers feel, but how the work shapes employees, teams and the entire brand identity. In this blog, we’ll talk how you can engage customers in memorable, impactful ways that ultimately create a positive brand reputation for you.

Three Foundations of Brand Building

In the episode, “Forks” of The Bear, you see Ritchie carry around a certain book, Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara. The book is the story of how Will helped transform Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant in New York City, into the best in the whole world. Hospitality, he believes, is at the heart of that work. In the book he says, “Whatever you do for a living, you can choose to be in the hospitality business.” As we start talking about the foundations of building your brand and how to cultivate brand loyalty through the customer experience, keep hospitality in the back of your mind.

Hospitality can be part of your customer service strategy no matter what kind of business you run.

Understanding Brand Strategy is Important

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Branding is the process of creating a unique identity for your brand. It’s all about crafting the perception of your business in the minds of consumers. Our team has written on branding (here and here and here to name just a few). Every business dreams of customer loyalty, but to have loyal customers, you have to think beyond customer satisfaction and work towards remarkable service.

To go beyond a positive experience, think about what would take a customer from satisfied to enthusiastic? When focusing on providing exceptional customer service, the goal is to turn customers into brand advocates. You want people telling their friends about the amazing customer experience they’ve had with you, so when you’re building your brand strategy, make sure you’re thinking about how you want customers to feel within your walls or while using your product. Asking these questions will help you develop your customer service strategy.

Consistency is Key to the Customer Experience

One pillar of your customer service strategy should be consistency. Consistency is started in your brand messaging (how and what you say to customers, how you respond to customer inquiries and how you ask/take customer feedback).

Then there are the visuals — from your logo to your website to your packaging. They need to be consistent across the board. Think about Apple: their trademark of sleek product design is also lived out in their packaging — their boxes are so sturdy you probably have at least one or two in your closet just because you can’t imagine throwing them out, right? (Or is that just me? I recently tossed three Apple boxes.)

Last on the list is customer touchpoints. To create a remarkable customer service strategy, you’ll need to think through every moment or place where a customer may interact with your brand. Do you have a standard way that people answer the phone at your office? That’s part of the experience. What about a welcome email or gift for new customers? That’s a major touchpoint. What about how you collect customer feedback? That’s an important point of contact where people can test how much you value what they have to say.

In all of moments, you want to create a consistent experience. Chick-fil-A is a great example of this consistency. Part of their success has been providing a consistent customer experience over and over again. You know you’re going to hear employees say “My pleasure” after you ask for something and you know that despite the look of the drive-thru wrapped around the building, you’ll be in and out in less than 15 minutes.

Chick-fil-A has built a success business in large part due to their customer service brand building strategy.

Chick-fil-A earned the number two spot on Forbes’ 2024 Best Customer Service list. See the full list here.

Customers Connect with a Good Story

Another way to build up your loyal customer base is inviting them into a really good story. The best brands use storytelling to create emotional connections with their customers. Some of my favorite examples are the ads big brands share during the Olympics like P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” and Nike’s Dream Crazier. Maybe the most iconic example of connecting with customers through a good story is Disney — from their movies to their parks, their world of magic has created generations of loyal customers.

While you may not be creating an ad for the Olympics, you can use stories to connect with customer segments and build brand loyalty. Here are a few ideas of jumping off points for your storytelling:

  • Your company’s history and early days — and how it propels you forward today
  • The life of someone in your ideal customer base
  • The company culture and how it’s added to the brand’s success
  • A satisfied customer’s story
  • How your brand made a difference in someone’s life/work/needsStories are one way to connect with customers across your communication channels and build your brand.

Exceptional Customer Service Essentials

Now that we’ve walked through some of the pillars of brand building, let’s talk about a few essentials that every customer service strategy needs.

Let’s Start with the Basics of Customer Relationship Management

How you manage your relationship with customers will vary depending on your your unique offerings as a brand, however positive brand experiences have a few things in common. To build your brand, you’ll want to carefully consider the following:

  • Responsiveness — How quickly will you respond to customer inquiries? Will you track review sites so you can see and respond to customer reviews ? Do you have a dedicated staff member for social media engagement so you can respond to people’s comments and questions? There are a number of tools to help you respond quickly to customers. Make sure you think through every way a customer can contact you and make a plan of how you’ll see and respond in a professional tone to their comments and questions.
  • Empathy — Training your team on how to take customer feedback and talk to less-than satisfied customers is a very important part of your customer service strategy. In her book on hospitality, “Bread and Wine,” Shauna Niequst writes that “the heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.” Successful brands keep empathy in mind when connecting with their target audience and developing customer experiences. Making someone feel seen and heard will take your business a long way.
  • Problem-solving — It’s the nature of humans working with humans: there will be problems to solve! As hard as a brand may work to ensure consistency, there will be moments when pain points are exposed. By working ahead of time with your team on how to respond to issues, there’s plenty of room for people’s problems to turn into positive experiences. Also, creating a culture on your team where people feel comfortable speaking up about potential problems they see will allow you to build strategies and support teams before certain issues even arise.

Empower Employees to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

I know I keep going back to the Forks episode of “The Bear,” but it really does hit home when it comes to exceptional customer service. One idea that the episode emphasizes is that an amazing customer service experience rarely happens because of one person. It takes a team working together to really, truly serve customers well. Once you have designed your dream customer service experience, you’ll need to train and empower employees to deliver this kind of service. Every person on the team plays a part in designing, creating and carrying out an experience that sets your brand apart.

Don’t Forget to Ask for Customer Feedback

One way to create exceptional customer service and set yourself apart is asking for and then acting on customer feedback. There are a number of ways to ask for feedback— QR codes people scan at checkout, email surveys you send out to, a form on your website and more.

Most businesses are afraid of negative reviews — but asking for feedback helps you improve your company's reputation.

If a customer wants to provide feedback, let them. At the very least, you’ll help someone feel heard (which is a major aspect of hospitality). It’s likely though that you’ll learn something new about how customers interact with your brand. To continue improving customer satisfaction, you need to ask people what they think. Their answers will help you make data driven decisions about what to change in your sales and service experiences.

Empower Employees to Care for Clients and Customers

There are a number of ways you can empower your employees to care for clients. For example, there are a number of social media management tools that can help your communications team reply to people online. You can also make customer information readily available so your team can provide a more personal, tailored experience to repeat customers. The more comfortable a customer feels with you, the more likely they are to return again and again.

Understanding the Impact of Customer Service on Brand Identity

Can you remember the last time you were blown away by the customer service you received? Maybe it was at a store where someone quickly answered your question. Maybe it was calling a customer service line and having your issue settled with efficiency and ease. Maybe it was excellent communication about an upcoming event. Whatever it was, it’s likely you told friends about your experience, right? (It’s even more likely that you told friends about a negative experience.)

A positive customer service interaction can reinforce your brand values and create a ripple effect thanks to word-of-mouth marketing and brand advocacy.

Turn that frown upside down? Customer service goes a long way in building brand loyalty and overall brand success.

The truth is that building a customer service strategy will go a long way in managing brand equity. You’ll prove that you take your brand promise seriously and create buzz about your business without a single marketing dollar spent.

Significance for Sales and Reputation

While it may seem obvious, let’s finish out our time together by talking about how superior customer service drives repeat business, referrals and positive online reviews.

Have you ever had such an exceptional experience that you were practically bursting? I have — at restaurants, on customer service hotlines, in long lines at the airport. Any time I have felt seen and taken care of, it alleviates an incredible amount of stress and worry for me. That, in turn, causes me to tell friends and family. By focusing on creating customer experiences where people feel seen and heard (remember the heart of hospitality), you will grow your brand reputation and customer perception.

People will continue to return to your business over and over again because of the experience they know they will get with you. In fact, 86% of customers will pay more for great customer service. From InstaCart to Four Seasons, brands that emphasize the long-term benefits of investing in customer service excellence ultimately enjoy sustainable business growth and the competitive advantage.

Check out the Four Seasons’ About Us page and you’ll see them mentioning “belonging” as key to their ability to deliver exceptional customer service.

J.O. Agency Knows Customer Satisfaction and Brand Loyalty

Are you in search of ideas on how to gather customer feedback, bolster customer loyalty or build a brand strategy that focuses on customer satisfaction? With over 25 years of history in the Fort Worth area, our team would love to discuss how we can help. We enjoy long relationships with a number of our own clients and have valuable insights to share and put to work on your behalf. Contact our team through our website or call 817-335-0100 to talk today.

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