1. The stats speak for themselves
Research findings published in October highlighted that two-thirds of global consumers now buy on belief – a staggering statistic up 13 points on the previous year. The takeaway point from the 2018 2018 Earned Brand study, if I had to cite only one, is that what a brand stands for now matters more than ever. People will choose – or switch to – a brand that matches their personal values and has a positive societal impact. They want to feel something.
Marketers reading this stat for the first time may presume the trend is being influenced by the millennial generation, but interestingly, belief-driven buyers now dominate every demographic, irrespective of age or income. Almost as many consumers aged 35-to-54 are said to buy on belief as 18-to-34-year-olds, for instance.
Businesses that think purpose is just a gimmick – or that it can exist as the result of a quick brainstorm – are therefore going to have a sharp shock in 2019. It will become one of the most fundamental components of the customer experience as the next 12 months unfold.
2. Look out, not in
When it comes to defining purpose, many organisations start to go wrong when they first articulate it. It is no good deciding on paper-thin values as part of a campaign slogan for example – the purpose must be the lifeblood of the business. So much so, some purpose-rich brands don’t even have to write it down!
So, whilst vision and mission statements can convey purpose, they have to be authentic and they have to look outwardly. The sad fact is that they’re usually wordy, unclear and sometimes even nonsense! So why don’t we drop them altogether in favour of ‘my brand exists to…’
The key is to concentrate on the difference you can make to people, lives, the environment, a social group, politics – whatever! Otherwise, customers will struggle to make the connection and the whole narrative risks sounding egotistical. Get it right, on the other hand, and you’ll never be short of things to talk about – it will underpin your very existence.
3. A focus on a customer-centric journey
With optimum customer experience levels in mind, it is important to consider every possible touchpoint with a customer, before they have even begun to engage with your brand. Does everything align with the company’s purpose? Are there any flaws? Are you delivering what you promise? This granular analysis will ensure a sense of consistency, whilst helping to maintain an external focus on the people who matter.
4. Internal customers matter too
Purpose isn’t just about attracting customers – it’s about attracting the right talent to your business. And they’re all too often a ‘customer’ group that businesses overlook.
That’s why a Forbes article last summer encouraged leaders to think about how they can make colleagues’ work more purposeful – people want to do rewarding work that makes a difference. We are tribal beings, and we want to be a part of something meaningful.
There’s an argument that they should therefore be recognised for their contribution to that purpose too. If an organisation rewards staff merely on the basis of financial KPIs, the authenticity of their purpose will soon be critiqued. The experience levels for this customer group is likely to drop sharply as a result, and the hunt for alternative employment will no doubt begin.
5. People are your brand
Again, this isn’t anything that hasn’t been said before, but in the context of purpose and CX, this statement cannot be overlooked.
To expand upon a theory outlined by David Hieatt, purpose helps to define a culture, culture builds a team, and teams will build a business. So, whilst a genuine purpose lies at the heart of all this, employees have to be 100% on board in order to deliver a great level of customer service. Otherwise, it could all fall flat.
For example, only recently, a member of my family had an emergency visit to a local A&E department. The degree of care, information, attention and compassion was second-to-none throughout, until a disgruntled porter brought the whole experience crashing down. The impact of one person should not be underestimated. Get everyone in your business aligned behind a purpose they both believe in and can shape themselves and you won’t go far wrong.