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Brands... they're just like people

Dan Collins
Head of Customer Experience and Strategy Integration, SVP

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Dan has extensive experience in data-led improvement of strategies which ensures stakeholder engagement, effective control and strong communication.

Be warned! Break a promise and trust is hard to rebuild

“We can’t be terrible one night and good the next night. We’ve got to be good every night. When somebody buys your ticket, it’s your handshake, it’s the old story, and they only have this night. They don’t care if you’re great the next night."
Bruce Springsteen

At MBNA we’ve been evolving the customer experience since we were formed 23 years ago. And as we’ve recently begun to build awareness in our brand, it’s led us to really think about how the two – brand and CX – interact and how they can best support each other. This comes into sharp focus when you think about how you hold conversations with customers.

My view is that CX is the fulfilment of a promise made by a brand – the two things are incredibly intertwined. Your brand sets the expectation for the customer and their experience needs to live up to it.

If a brand promises to ‘lead innovation’ or ‘challenge the system’, but serves its customers in the same old ways, then the customer feels let down and the bond of trust is broken. Brands are just like people in this respect.

As a consumer, I’ve been put out by companies when they’ve fallen short of a promise. The complaints I’ve made recently have been against companies that have let me down. If your Head of Brand was on a call with each of your customers for three minutes, what would they try to get across? How would we create a brand advert within each of those individual customer interactions? We should be aiming, in every single interaction, to meet or exceed the promises we set out for our brand.

As a brand, every day we’re aiming to make good stuff happen for our customers

We recently reviewed our suite of standard letters which forms part of the different communication interactions that we have with our customers. The total communications that these are a part of represent over 100 million touchpoints each year. We asked ourselves, “How does this letter feel from the customer’s perspective”. The review showed that most letters needed to be adapted in some way. Some weren’t clear exactly what they were saying to customers. Was there a call to action? Was the letter just for information? Others contained jargon and terms written from our own viewpoint, not the customer’s. And some were unhelpful because they didn’t give a full picture.

As a brand, every day we’re aiming to make good stuff happen for our customers. We want to be seen as helpful experts or specialists. But our letters weren’t backing that notion up. So, we’ve gone through a major programme of rewriting the full suite of letters.

This has been a huge job, eating into our people’s time, with over 60 members of our teams involved in the reviews. But what tasks are more important than ensuring your conversations with customers exactly reflect the promises your brand makes?

Hall & Partners are going to be helping us underpin this work with data insights, and we’re looking forward to working with them in using feedback to identify other areas in which we can ensure we’re backing up our brand promise to our customers.

Once you’ve built customer trust you have to deliver consistently. ‘The Boss’ is right… we’ve got to be great every time.


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