It's all experiences now - a shopper gets a feel of Breathe salt rooms at The Wellery on the second floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York. Image Credit: New York Times

Dubai: Brands can’t just get by selling a product or service - they need to package a true experience to make it work for today’s consumers. And that’s still only half of it.

“The other half is your brand promise, and whether the experience of your brand lives up to it or exceeds it,” said Satish Dave, Director - Customer Experience (CX) at the marketing consultancy Kantar. “Even if the experience is great, if it doesn’t meet the promises you’ve made, then the customers are going to be left feeling disappointed.

“Applying CX thinking to your business is all about identifying and actioning a customer-centric approach which will bring the biggest improvement to your customer experience.”

But to deliver on such experiences, brands need an aware sales force. But this is where there is a lag - only 60 per cent of consumers are happy on this front.

Better do it

A Kantar study found 72 per cent of millennials (born between 1981-1996) in the UAE prefer to spend their money on experience rather than material possessions. The study focussed on five key CX performance pillars - clear brand promise, empowered employees, empowered customers, lasting memories and exceptional delivery of experience. The research took into account sectors such as malls, furniture chains, retail banks, e-commerce, car after-sales service, telecom services and car insurance.

“Just 1 per cent improvement in customer experience can lead to huge financial gains,” said Dave. “If we go by the findings of BrandZ Top 100 Brands 2018 conducted over a 12-year period, brands delivering a high customer experience grew a whopping 188 per cent compared to the brands with a low customer experience which grew a mere 18 per cent.”

As in the UAE, Saudi consumers are placing brand experience and promise at the centre of their interactions. Respondents voted 79 per cent, 78 per cent and 81 per cent for clear brand promise, empowered customers and lasting memories respectively.