Delivering emotional value

Cath Sutherland, Conscious Business

We all know that the key to a successful franchise is to deliver a consistent customer experience.

The most successful franchises are those that offer an attractive and fulfilling customer experience consistently across their franchise group.

Customers can trust and rely on the fact that they will be delivered the same product and experience in any store, anywhere.

Being consistent is the key to franchise brand power and a franchisee’s profits and business success.

Customer Experience

So what is the customer experience? And how can you ensure that it is consistent?

There are two key aspects to the customer experience. These are the functional value and the emotional value you offer.

The functional value you offer your customer includes:

• The range and quality of your products, (whether that is a physical product, service or both)
• The look, skills and capabilities of your team
• The look and functionality of your store
• Your systems and processes behind how your products are made and delivered to your customer.

The functional aspects of your customer experience can be attributed to the physical aspects of your business and the systems and processes that allow you to consistently deliver your product. These functional aspects can be quantified, systematised and measured. This is where franchises excel; with set fit outs, brand style guides and step by step systems and processes for consistent product delivery which can be rolled out and followed by all franchisees.

But what about the emotional value you offer?

The emotional value you offer is made up of all the subjective, emotional aspects that customers feel when they experience your franchise.

Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think. Jill Bolte-Taylor, My Stroke of Insight.

The emotional value you offer your customer includes:

• Who you are as a business;
• How you interact and engage with customers;
• How you develop, manage and sustain relationships;
• How your store feels;
• How it feels to experience your product; and
• What it means to the customer to be associated with your franchise. Is there a greater reason for your customer to connect with you other than just buying your product? For example, customers who buy from The Body Shop also know they are buying the extra benefits of protecting our planet; defending human rights; supporting community trade; activating self-esteem; and saying no to animal testing.

The emotional value you offer is an expression of who you are and your depth of character as a brand. It gives customers more meaning to the experience of your product and more reasons to connect. These emotional aspects are harder to quantify, systematise and measure.

This is where franchises have the greatest opportunity to really excel in the delivery of their customer experience.

Competitive Advantage

The emotional value you offer is also your untouchable competitive advantage. Competitors can copy your product, systems and processes, but they cannot copy the emotional value you offer and how you make your customers feel, because they are  not you.

The emotional value you offer can be measured through customer satisfaction, retention, loyalty and turnover.

The more emotional value you offer, the more customers are prepared to buy, to pay and the more loyal they will be to your business.

This emotional value does not just flow on to your customers, because it is an expression of who you are as a brand, your emotional value is felt by all of your stakeholders including your team. So the emotional value of who you are as a brand can  also be measured through employee satisfaction, retention, loyalty, low staff turnover and is expressed through a happy and healthy team culture. (Which is also positive for customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty; the cycle begins again).

So how can you determine the unique emotional value you offer?

It begins with understanding who you are as a business, your unique Brand Energy.

Brand Energy

As we have established, your business is not just a physical entity providing functional value, it is also an energetic entity (made up of people) providing emotional value. It is the collective energy of everyone who works with you that determines your  reputation or brand* in the marketplace, so your business energy is your Brand Energy.

When your unique Brand Energy is activated you create unique emotional value. The Brand Creation Model* takes you  through a process of defining your five key Brand Energy Elements. These elements make up your Brand Energy Blueprint; who you are, what you stand for, and how you operate as a business. With your team define:

Your Global Vision – what impact do you want your business to make in the world?
Brand Sample: Enjo – to enhance healthy living

Your Purpose – How do you want customers to feel?
Brand Sample: Kailis Jewellery – we create and celebrate joy!

Your Values – What values will fuel and keep your Brand Energy strong?
Brand Sample: Morrison (fashion label) –Inspire, Natural, Love, Passion, Trust

Your Personality – What style of connection do you want to make with your customers?
Brand Sample: Boost Juice Bars – energetic, individual, fresh, healthy, positive, colourful, cool

Your Product – what is your connection point? What are the value components of your product.
Brand Sample: Faraway Bay – Wilderness experience, Accommodation, Tours and Activities, Meals and Beverages

Once you have defined these energy elements for your business, invite your team to activate them.

Your team breathes life into your brand; they determine whether or not you are the living representation of who you say you are. With your team, take the five Brand Energy elements you have defined above and come up with creative ways you can activate, manage, live and express these throughout your business. Let your team create unique experiences for your customers that are aligned with your Brand Energy. This is what engages your customers and creates unique emotional value for  them. It also means everything your team does strategically and powerfully contributes to and builds your brand.

The Virgin brand is all about fun and irreverence. How do they activate this and build emotional value? Virgin Blue gives us a prime example, among many. They have taken a serious and often boring safety announcement before take-off and turned it into a fun and entertaining skit. And this isn’t scripted; Virgin Blue empowers their flight attendants to make it fun in their own way! So it is always fun, cheeky, authentic, in the moment, different and unique to your flight.

By defining your unique Brand Energy (as a collective group), you develop the guidelines for how and why you do business. These can also become a checklist for directing and managing your unique Brand Energy and your customer’s experience of  your brand.

By activating, living, managing and expressing your unique Brand Energy, you have greater directorship and control of the emotional value you offer. You have the enhanced ability to deliver consistent emotional value.

*Your brand is not just your logo, product packaging or retail space. Your brand is your reputation.
* The Brand Creation Model was developed by Cath Sutherland and is outlined in her book Creating Brand Energy.

Cath Sutherland is the Principle Director of Conscious Business, a consultancy helping businesses to build brand and business value by deepening their understanding of their business identity, attracting ‘like energy’, and growing market share through connection. Cath is a facilitator, speaker and author of Creating Brand Energy-how to transform your business energy into market power.

For more information:
Phone: 0403 000 202