Every moment you're in contact with a customer is a brand opportunity. Make sure you seize it.
I recently flew for the first time on Virgin America. Call it my virgin Virgin flight. On a flight from Portland to New York (via San Francisco) I was impressed by how the airline turned the usually boring in-flight safety presentation into an entertaining opportunity to convey its brand.
Instead of the typical rote demonstration of how to buckle a seat belt and use an oxygen mask, the airline presented its entire FAA-mandated safety spiel in music and dance. Attractive young flight attendants danced and sang everything you needed to know about safety in five minutes of high-production-value Hollywood glitz.
In late 2013, Virgin released the video on its social media channels. Within a few weeks it got about 6 million views on YouTube. It was a brilliant marketing move, creating further buzz.
The video got me thinking. If Virgin’s flight presentation is this cool, maybe I should pay attention to everything else it does in my customer experience. Are they telling their brand story at every turn?
Take advantage of touchpoints
Here are five points I noticed. The takeaway for all of us? Pay attention to the entire customer experience at every touchpoint.
1. Customer Journey. Don’t you wish companies put themselves through the experience of being in your shoes as a customer? (Amy Schumer did. Go here for a laugh.) To do this, create a map of the customer journey from A through Z. You may gain amazing insights. A quick Google search turned up a number of software-as-a-service providers with customer journey mapping services, such as the Touchpoint Dashboard.
2. Restrooms. Talk about touchpoints. Maybe I should call this a no-touch point. I’m not obsessive-compulsive by any stretch, but I attempt as best I can to avoid touching stuff in airline, restaurant and tavern restrooms. The typical transcontinental jet carries from 100 to 130 passengers in the main cabin. All served by two claustrophia-inducing toilets. If Virgin America had put as much effort into cleaning its restrooms as it did in producing its video, I would’ve kissed the flight attendants (or at least thanked them). What’s the equivalent in your company of a clean restroom? (P.S. Apparently, there’s a whole genre of social media devoted to restaurants’ dirty toilets.)
3. Food. There’s not much I can add to everything that’s ever been said about airline food. But if you have to serve food, ask yourself how it reflects your brand. Ask yourself if you’d eat it. If your brand is—as Virgin America describes its brand—“clever, provocative and friendly,” what food would you serve? Peanuts?
4. Walk Your Talk. Here’s what Virgin America’s brand guidelines say about its brand personality: “Virgin America makes flying fun again. We’re constantly reinventing air travel with our stylish design, award-winning service, and the most advanced entertainment system in the sky.” That made me laugh. Fun? Once the glow from the amusing video wore off, Virgin did nothing to demonstrate its difference. Are you living up to the copy in your brand guidelines?
5. Customer Service. The happy dancing flight attendants were a hard act to follow. It’s not that I was expecting the real attendants to twerk down the aisle. But somehow I was expecting a little more sizzle on the steak. Instead, the employees were just ordinary. There's nothing wrong with ordinary. Just be careful about portraying your employees in such an idealized treatment if you can’t live up to the fantasy.
Take the touchpoint test
As clever and entertaining as the Virgin America video was, the airline flunked the touchpoint test. After all, this was a golden opportunity. I had no prior experience with Virgin. The airline could have swept me off my feet and created a new customer. Instead they let me down (thankfully with a boringly safe touchdown).
How are you telling your brand story—throughout your customer’s experience, in ways both big and small, at every touchpoint? And not just in words but in actions. [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]