How to tell when your customer experience needs an update.

So, on my desk this morning was a fairly large box. I knew what it was immediately given the large type printed on it that said Workbook. For those who don’t know, The Workbook is a a set of resource guides art directors use to find photographers and illustrators. After opening the box and looking at these two very substantial books, some questions struck me. Why am I getting two books full of ads from people I will most likely never hire? Who still uses these books anyways? The Workbooks I received said 38. I guess that means this is their 38th year. If so, they probably should have stopped printing them at 30. In short, the whole thing seems very 1998.

I needed to so some research — granted my inquiries aren’t a Forrester study but what the hell. When asking my staff about the books and if they used them or not, my suspicions were confirmed. Mostly the answer was, “no.” Or they might go to The Workbook’s website. One designer never even heard of The Workbook.

Ah, maybe the books are a way to drive me to their site. Off to my trusty computer. Sadly, upon arrival my disappointment continued. The site looks like it’s from 2006. It’s confusing and difficult to navigate. Here’s a company that is suppose to be inspiring me with their photo images and illustrations. Instead, their site is cluttered with copy and thumbnails. I would expect that from a news site not an image company. Personally, they should take a cue from 500px — same type of business, far better customer experience.

I’m ranting about The Workbook but it’s a fine example of how not to be complacent with your marketing materials and the experience your customers have with them. In other words, most brands think the customer experience is what happens at the store level, i.e. face-to-face, on the phone or through social media. But it occurs at every point of contact a customer has with your brand, e.g. a website, a business card or even the books your print. Just because you created a website five years ago and it still works doesn’t mean you don’t need a new one. You probably do — just don’t realize it. (Or stubbornly don’t want to).

Ok, this is a little Branding 101 but stay with me. You have to figure out what is on the other side of the equal sign of your company by aligning the customer experience with what your company means to them. Take Disney for example. They aren’t about theme parks, movies and characters. They are about magic. And they deliver magic through everything they create.

You have to get your “magic” figured out. Then, along with a good understanding of the value you bring to your customers, both logically and emotionally, it’s pretty easy to use that information as a litmus test to measure the quality of the customer experience you are providing. But don’t stop there. You need to continually evaluate the behaviors of your customers and how they access and share information. Then, update your marketing materials and customer experience systems often. As that great headline from a Nike ad once said, “There is no finish line.”