The war on clunk

By Travis Coley

Rethinking how family-owned businesses approach branding in a digital world

Aits core, digital disruption is about removing clunk. What’s clunk? Clunk is all of the parts of your brand experience that feel, well, clunky. Banks that make you use the drive through (or, worse, the inside teller window) to deposit checks. That’s clunk. “Call us now to schedule a FREE consultation!” That’s clunk. Clunk is something that can easily be replaced with a better, faster digital counterpart but isn’t because “We’ve always done it this way!” and “We don’t have the bandwidth to undertake that right now.” Clunk is all around us, and it’s your job as the steward of your family business to recognize clunk and to remove it as quickly as possible.

Recently, we’ve been contacted by family-owned enterprises along with publicly traded companies, and everyone seems to be asking the same question: Given the rapid adoption of direct-to-consumer and digital communications tools, how do we reinvent our customers’ journeys for a digital-first world? Or, more simply, how do I make my customer experience less clunky?

Across all of our conversations, three themes have emerged that have helped these organizations recognize and alleviate areas where their customer experience lags modern expectations:

1. What and Where: You need to know what you’re asking your customers to do and where you’re asking them to do it. The goal is to meet them where they are with the best or most convenient solution possible. How do you address your customers’ need for a quick, accurate lunch order while driving down operational costs?

2.  Audit Often and Reinvent Constantly: Organizations, like people, resist change. “The current approach is working! Why should we change it?" In the digital economy, nothing  is ever working — it’s only working right now. Because of the pace of change in consumer preferences and technological progress, what you’re doing now will soon seem ancient and out of touch. Audit your customer experience process today, reinvent it often and build digital solutions to address pitfalls and or drive down cost. The organizations that wait out of a sense of inertia quickly realize the world has passed them by. Be Netflix, don’t be Blockbuster

3. Digital as a Driver: Great branding is about the experiences your products and team provide current and future customers. Your digital channels should be a driving force of that experience — from enabling customers to choose how they want to interact with the brand, to deepening the level of personalization when they interact, to creating a community where they can expand their engagement. Intel leverages its 2.5 million LinkedIn followers to introduce product / service enhancements and build customer loyalty through engagement and authentic, customer-driven storytelling.

Family-owned businesses must recognize that digital transformation can’t be ignored, regardless of your business model. Our friends at Kwik Goal made the move pre-pandemic to reimagine and redesign the company’s entire consumer-facing digital experience and backend distribution and fulfillment. They realized that they were asking customers to do a whole lot of work to get a soccer goal on their field. Phone calls. Service reps. Clunky distribution channels. But amid a process that needed to be reinvented, they were clearly known as having the best soccer goals in the world. Everybody wants a Kwik Goal. For many companies, the fact that people love and respect the brand would have been enough — but Kwik Goal knew that making a premier product is only part of the equation in a digital economy. They knew that the experience itself, and rethinking distribution channels, also had to be a part of the brand. Kwik Goal, to its enormous credit, dedicated the time, effort and budget to get the best soccer goals in the world in the hands of customers in the easiest and quickest way possible. As the country reopens, the company continues to lead its industry and lay claim to being the “official goal of soccer.”

Family brand leaders that craft and deliver category-leading customer experiences enjoy higher brand loyalty, greater growth through word of mouth, more efficient lead generation and sales and, most importantly, enhanced company value. In every meeting, we stress the same thing over and over: An optimized, modern customer experience isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. It’s one of the best things you can do to ensure that your family-owned company continues to thrive for generations.

Issue: 
November/December 2021

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