6 Steps To Crafting a Signature Brand Experience that Delights Your Customers
Creating a signature brand experience isn’t just about what you do; it’s about how you make your customers feel. It’s the difference between a one-time transaction and a lifelong memory.
Think of one brand that you really couldn’t imagine living without. Now ask yourself, “Why?” Chances are good that others are selling the same product or service, yet you still choose to do business with that brand over everyone else’s. Why? Because you love the way that they make you feel. They have mastered the art of the signature experience.
As an experience consultant, I’ve had the privilege of guiding brands toward crafting signature experiences that resonate deeply with their clientele. I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of a brand’s signature experience—a journey that transcends transactions, evolving into the realm of storytelling, where every interaction has one thing in mind: the customer.
One brand I can’t imagine living without is SoulCycle. The first time I clipped into a SoulCycle bike, I wasn’t just starting a workout. I was embarking on a journey meticulously orchestrated to turn a routine into a revelation. In 2016, when I found SoulCycle, I had no intention of making working out a regular part of my life. To be honest, I hated exercise—or so I thought. You see, it wasn’t exercise that I hated. It was the traditional gym atmosphere that I didn’t feel a part of. I’m not an athlete, and when my friend dragged me along to an early morning class, I realized I didn’t have to be.
I’ve seen a brand’s signature experience become an art form where every detail counts, crafting moments that not only satisfy, but that also inspire and connect. This isn’t true only for elite or luxury brands like The Ritz-Carlton or Nordstrom. Take Chick-fil-A or Starbucks, for example. They both hire from a similar applicant pool as their competition, but somehow Chick-fil-A is able to get its more than 35,000 employees saying “My pleasure” with each customer.
This is because they are customer-focused and obsessed with their brand experience. It’s the reason Nordstrom walks your shopping bag around the counter and hands it directly to you. It’s the same reason my venti soy latte at Starbucks tastes the same in New York as it did last week in D.C. These world-class companies focus on six essential strategies that we employ at the DiJulius Group to curate such unforgettable experiences. Follow along with my SoulCycle example to see how you can, too.
1. Build a compelling brand promise upheld through an action statement
The heartbeat of a signature experience is the brand promise—the commitment to deliver exceptional value that customers can anticipate before they walk through your door. SoulCycle pledges not just a cycling session but a cathartic escape. That’s a bold promise that captures imaginations and expectations.
But how do you ensure that your promise isn’t just words on a wall? By creating a Customer Experience Action Statement: what you want your team members to be delivering and what you want your customers to be feeling every time they interact with your brand. The key is that alignment of every facet of the operation, from initial contact to checkout, must reflect and fulfill that pledge.
2. Cultivate an intimate understanding of your audience
To tailor an experience, you must first know who you’re tailoring it for. SoulCycle doesn’t just recognize their clientele; they celebrate them. They understand the diversity of motivations that bring riders into the studio, from the fitness enthusiast to the spiritual seeker.
Deeply grasping the nuances of your audience enables you to craft touchpoints that resonate on a personal level. Our work with clients involves implementing tools and training to decode customer profiles and creating a feedback loop that continually refines the understanding of the audience’s evolving needs and desires.
3. Curate signature moments
The crescendo of any signature experience is its hallmark moments—memories that are so powerful they become stories that customers share. At SoulCycle, it’s the immersive experience: the dimmed lights, the instructor’s empowering speech, the collective energy of the room.
In our own practice, we collaborate with brands to identify and cultivate these moments. It’s not about grand gestures; it’s about identifying opportunities to create an emotional impact. It could be a personalized welcome, an unexpected gift, or a heartfelt farewell—simple yet powerful actions that become the hallmark of your brand. At the very least, incorporating the following simple principles into each of the touchpoints of the customer journey will go a long way:
- Genuine hospitality: Eye contact, Enthusiastic greeting, Ear-to-ear smile, Engage, and Educate (the 5 E’s)
- Service recovery: Listen, Empathize, Apologize, Solve, and Thank (LEAST)
- Make a connection: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams (FORD)
4. Ensure consistency, the backbone of excellence
The best-laid plans crumble without flawless execution. Every SoulCycle class delivers the same high-energy ambience and quality, no matter the location. Consistency breeds trust, and trust breeds loyalty. Think of consistency as the backbone of a brand’s promise, the essential structure on which trust is built.
For SoulCycle, it doesn’t matter if a rider is in New York or California. The beat, the atmosphere, the exhilarating push are all unmistakably SoulCycle. This consistency turns clients into loyal advocates who can always expect—and receive—the same high level of service and engagement, irrespective of location or circumstance.
Creating non-negotiable service standards is the secret to consistency. They are the unbreakable guiding principles that are meant to be upheld with reverence by every team member, every day. These are not mere suggestions, but foundational principles that guide the behavior and decision-making processes of the entire staff, regardless of title.
For instance, a non-negotiable standard for a hospitality business might be that any guest complaint must be addressed and resolved within a certain time frame, ensuring immediate attention and reinforcing the importance of guest satisfaction as a priority. Creating systems that ensure this consistency begins with delving into operational details at every touchpoint of the customer journey and experience, then ingraining these details into your brand’s employee training and culture to ensure a consistently outstanding experience for your customers.
5. Engage and empower your team
Your team is the front line of your brand promise. SoulCycle instructors are more than trainers. They are brand ambassadors who believe in the SoulCycle ethos and are empowered to deliver on it. We encourage businesses to view their employees as key stakeholders in delivering the customer experience. Through extensive training and empowerment initiatives, team members can become the most authentic purveyors of your brand’s signature experience.
6. Listen, adapt, and evolve
The final note in the symphony of experience creation is adaptability. SoulCycle’s offering has evolved by listening to and acting on customer feedback. It’s a brand in motion, ever-changing to the beat of its riders’ needs. Adaptability is a core tenet of delivering your best possible customer experience. We instill in brands the importance of ongoing dialogue with customers, using feedback to fuel innovation and to ensure that the experience remains relevant and resonant, whether through surveys, NPS scores, or other metrics.
Like SoulCycle, brands must aspire to become not just a part of their customers’ routines, but a highlight of their day by creating a community they are proud to be a part of, and a story they are eager to tell.
In crafting your brand’s signature experience, let every decision be driven by these strategies. But also let them be imbued with the unique spirit of your brand. It’s not simply about what you do, but how you do it that transforms a service into a signature.
Cal DiJulius is a Customer Experience Consultant at The DiJulius Group, where he began his career developing partnerships for the Customer Service Revolution. He gained additional experience working in the mortgage industry and in a high-intensity startup environment. He has researched, lived, and worked in global environments, studied Swahili in Kenya, built rainwater harvesting systems in Tanzania, and started a nonprofit in Cleveland, Ohio, with his father. Learn more about The DiJulius Group here.
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