What a fantastic line-up this year for the ICCFA All Star Annual Convention & Exposition! Congratulations to Program Co-Chairs Gary Freetag and Scott Sells for the keynote presentations and breakout session topics in what promises to be a stellar event (no pun intended). (For registration information, visit the ICCFA website. Or download a PDF version of the Program to learn more.)
I am especially intrigued by Scott Deming’s Keynote presentation: Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience, which will be held Wednesday, April 9th. The premise is this: while businesses often consider their branding to be simply a logo and tagline, in reality, their brand is defined by their customers. “Deming will explain,” notes the synopsis, “how to break the boundaries of typical customer service or brand-building processes and dispel the popular, yet incorrect, thinking that advertising and marketing lead to powerful, emotional brands.”
The description of his presentation got me thinking. Since I primarily dwell in the online world of funeral firm marketing, I asked myself, “what is the ultimate online experience for consumers?” And, “can those of us working in this niche market actually provide one?”
Consider first the use of the word ultimate. In all honesty, it’s a bit overused today – just look at the SERP page for my query, “ultimate website experience.” It seems everyone is selling the ultimate experience – from movies, to cooking, mobile websites, and even driving schools. I question what will happen when we reach for a higher rung on the ladder. What could possibly overshadow an ultimate experience especially when the word is defined as “representing a limit beyond which further progress is impossible“?
What really does define the ultimate consumer experience online?
It’s always (painfully) clear when a website doesn’t deliver on the merely adequate, moreover the ultimate, user experience. I can’t tell you how many times I just shake my head in dismay. Those negative experiences help us to intuitively know what makes a website better than adequate.
A casual poll of Facebook contacts revealed that for many, me included, Amazon delivers it. One woman shared that the EBay website delivers an ultimate experience with its ease-of-use and value; another contact claimed the Harley-Davidson’s website topped her list. When I distilled all those sites down to the essentials, I came up with these characteristics: responsiveness to inquiries; the ability to personalize the platform to provide the most relevant information for my needs and expectations; general ease-of-use; and finally, price and service-related value.
As Mr. Deming attests that a firm’s brand is defined by their customers, I argue (and I’m confident he’d agree, perhaps with a caveat or two) the experience these end-users have while on the firm’s website is also a major component of defining the firm’s brand.
Not to steal Mr. Deming’s thunder, or dissuade you from attending his keynote, the process he will present to attendees consists of reviewing the following points:
- Who you are, what you do and what you sell
- What people think of when they see or hear your name
- Whether or not you provide an uncommon, innovative and emotional experience
- If you are relying on products or your service to drive your sales (it’s the service that drives sales and keeps customers coming back)
- How you are building trust and emphasizing value, not price
- The outcome of each interaction you and your employees have
If we apply these process points to a close examination of funeral firm websites in general, you may feel better equipped to examine your own website in search of brand-detracting inadequacies. Stay tuned for the next installment later this week.
Are you planning to attend the ICCFA convention in Las Vegas next month? Let us know below!