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We often use this famous Maya Angelou quote to illustrate how customer experience is the real brand differentiator: "People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel."

It’s a classic and it seems that Maya is right.

We ran a national internet survey in May this year to test levels of trust in brands (more of that later), the importance of customer experience and how people share their experiences, good or bad. The survey was structured to be nationally representative and 400 people responded.

The first thing to say is that people have pretty low expectations of how much companies value them. Just Google brand visions of some of the world’s leading companies and you will see that many state, in various ways, that they put ‘their customers first’. As far as our sample is concerned though, the actions of many of Britain’s most well-known brands do not align to their visions; 60% felt that companies do not put customers first and only 11% disagreed. This, of course, represents an incredible opportunity for those who do match their vision with action and the importance of doing so was emphasised when we looked at the actions they take as a result of the experience they received.

We all know that people share their experiences across a whole range of social media and that it affects business and the evidence from our survey is clear; 48% of respondents agree that if a friend tells them they have had a bad experience with a company they will not buy from that company (only 10% disagreed). 55% of respondents read reviews describing the experiences of others (only 18% don’t) and 65% place more importance on what companies do than what they say (only 5% disagreed). It follows that there is a direct line from customer experience to the bottom line.

Whilst this is not really a surprise, the strength of opinion is stronger than we thought it would be and should worry companies that don’t focus on delivering the experience they have promised. Alignment is therefore the key.

This also represents a fantastic opportunity. Those brands that deliver against their promises and don’t just shout about it will benefit from people’s propensity to share their experiences. 68% of the respondents to our survey claimed that they tell their friends and family if they have a great experience and only 7% don’t bother. This should offer great encouragement to those who come up to the plate and align their experience to their vision.

So, all this goes to show is that Maya is right. If your customer experience makes people feel good, they will spread the word, return to you and definitely never forget it.

For more information on Brand Vista’s May 2015 Trust survey get in touch. http://brand-vista.com/contact

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