• Transform magazine
  • May 24, 2017

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Opinion: Do brands understand the value of customer experience?

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Due to significant changes in the world of communications, brand experience has never been more important. Digital usage has matured, customer experience is acknowledged as sitting at the heart of many platforms, and brands understand that technology must truly enable business and communications rather than simply providing the bells and whistles to wow industry insiders at conferences.

In this context, it’s fantastic to have been recognised at the Transform Awards Europe. The scheme’s celebration of transformation in brand development has never seemed more relevant and our award-winning work for Stagecoach and the AA in the ‘Best rebrand of a digital property’ category is a reflection of ruf’s belief that real digital transformation requires an understanding of brand, people and services, enhanced and enabled by technology.

This thinking underpins our shortlisted work for Stagecoach, which focused on delivering a better online experience for travellers on Stagecoach’s buses while, at the same time, providing them with real value.

When viewed through the principle of the three engines of brand experience, the Stagecoach digital rebrand addressed people’s needs, delivering a digital experience that is accessible to everyone, regardless of age and other factors. At the centre of this sits personalisation that uses customer location to deliver real-time timetable information.

We focused heavily on the brand, distilling the complexity of 18 different bus-operating companies into a single interface that reflected the overall values of the Stagecoach service. And we concentrated on delivering compelling services through multiple payment options, including making, buying and using tickets via SmartCard part of the platform.

Alistair Smith, the commercial director at Stagecoach Group, said using technology to transform the focus on the customer was central to the task, “This project represents the next step in an on-going journey towards technology driven, customer-centricity.”

With the AA, we faced the challenge of revitalising its mobile service. This wasn’t about tweaking the tech for tech’s sake but putting people, in this case the AA’s members, in the middle of the solution. We also sought to demonstrate that the AA is the brand that is their champion by providing something that’s valuable and different to anything available from other breakdown providers.

Our work also delivered a significant shift in terms of the AA’s digital services, replacing its 60-plus mobile apps with a single experience. To achieve this, we used data to identify customers’ favourite features and streamlined these into the one app, making it simpler to use while providinga clearer, responsive design.

This approach not only requires an understanding of the engines of brand experience but also the possession of the right skills to design, build, and optimise digital platforms. This is why rigorous building and testing of rapid prototypes for new services is a regular feature of our work.

With such a premium being placed on brand experience, it’s important to be able to fine-tune these engines with agility and accuracy. This requires a combination of thinking and doing, alongside being able to measure the impact of the transformation. It also means we’ve become more human. Design and understanding the brand remains at the core of what we do but an appreciation of people and their motivations has never been more essential.

Alessandra Cabra is a client partner at Rufus Leonard