What the bee girl knew – brand leadership in the Age of the Customer
Her face beamed. The bee girl in Blind Melon’s video for “No Rain” felt a sudden sense of belonging when she realized there were other people like her in the world.
They all danced the same bee dance and sang the same bee song. For the first time in a long time, she felt respected and accepted.
Turns out, those special moments can be a boon to brands and bee girls alike.
While wearing wings might be a bit much, the notion of a retail brand building a dream store for their highest value customers certainly isn’t crazy. The rush of conquering the climbing wall at the REI Boston store for example has been known to inspire camaraderie among customers (self included) and a sense of belonging with the brand.
Not surprisingly, camped atop the C Space 2016 list of most customer inspired brands, we find REI.
According to the C Space report “The Most Customer Inspired Brands in 2016” when a customer feels understood and respected, they have a stronger relationship with the brand overall. REI exemplifies this through their in-store and digital experiences along with a passion for all things adventure.
REI closed its stores on Black Friday (the busiest shopping day of the year) and told their customers to go for a hike — literally. A risk that paid off, revenues rose 9.3% from 2015 to 2016.
The C Space Customer Quotient ™ framework (CQ) quantifiably correlates revenue and profitability growth to brand behaviors that customers value. Those special moments are are especially important.
The fuzzy logic of customer experience analysis has long depended on a range of disconnected observational metrics. C Space’s CQ approach generates insight from customer perspective, a first in the industry.
The C Space Customer Quotient ™ is comprised of five attributes measured from the customer’s perspective: customer experience, emotional rewards, relevance, openness and empathy.
1. Customer Experience — In an omnichannel world, every touch point shapes brand perception. Brands scoring high in CQ include leaders like Marriott and Wegmans who both deliver on creating meaningful experiences. It’s all about going beyond a good experience and delivering great every time.
2. Emotional Rewards — When a high-touch brand makes you feel good, you remember it. Those witty signs at Trader Joe’s that inspire a subtle chuckle make the brand more personable. Those collective good vibes build up over time and deliver emotional rewards that strengthen brand relationships driving growth, profitability, return on assets (ROA) and likelihood to recommend.
3. Relevance — Brands that understand customer needs and deliver on them in novel ways score high in relevance. Being relatable and sharing your values matters. REI’s #OptOutside campaign is a prime example.
4. Openness — Brands scoring high in openness are perceived as accessible and being genuinely interested in what customers have to say. Being open also means being clear and being real. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty featured non-models and elevated the brand in the minds of many women. Oil of Olay engages older women in a similar tone that speaks to their unique needs.
5. Empathy — Brands that are empathetic have stronger customer intuition. They really “get” their customers, and it shows. Through internalizing customer needs, firms scoring high in CQ like Chick-fil-A, integrate their values as source of competitive advantage. Brands with this strong connection enjoy a distinct advantage — Chik-fil-A for example is the restaurant industry leader across CQ dimensions.
So if the bee girl is your customer, and your brand is the dance — how do you get things moving?
To truly connect, brands need to put in the effort and cultivate a two-way relationship with customers, beyond the typical social media channels. The reward? A profound and now quantifiable link to growth. Thought leaders like C Space hosts 100,000 conversations a day between brands and their customers, extracting innumerable insights along the way.
What does it all mean?
C Space’s CQ framework allows brands to measure the bottom line benefits associated with a customer first model — growth in both revenue and profit.
Be it brand or bee girl, being empathetic, open, and showing genuine interest builds stronger relationships.
Done well, there may also be dancing.