Bond Brand Loyalty officials preach to their clients that, to excel at customer experience, an absolute key point of differentiation among loyalty marketers, they must be customer-obsessed.

CX is a top priority for brands, yet only 20 percent of customers feel special and recognized by a brand representative. As a result, Bond Brand Loyalty scaled up its customer experience business to keep up with marketplace demand and promoted Morana Bakula to vice president, customer experience.

Bond Brand Loyalty has seen a rapid expansion of its Customer Experience business and actively promotes strong leaders from within the 400-person agency.

Loyalty360 caught up with Bakula and asked her a few questions about her new and clearly important role.

How has the CX department at Bond enhanced its clients’ growth and success and, in this new role, what plans do you have to magnify those results?
Bakula: As we’ve looked to help our clients create brand differentiation through CX, we have done so by being exactly what we advise our clients to be: Customer-obsessed. We develop an intimate knowledge of our clients’ internal realities, their brand, and their industries and combine it with a set of capabilities that aren’t often found under one roof. Our expertise in CX ranges from design to cultural change and transformation, to technology platforms and measurement−and all with a view to building brand loyalty. This allows us to meet our clients wherever they are on their CX journey. Whether it be to help them design their brand aligned Customer Experience, engage their employees in CX or serve as an accelerator of the CX transformation they are seeking. 

How do you see the current state of CX as it relates to brands making it a priority and what does the future hold?
Bakula: Experiences period–whether it’s customer experiences, employee experiences, or channel-partner experiences, all will continue to be the only way for brands to stand apart and leave memorable and shareworthy impressions for their most important audiences. Experiences that are deeply connected to the individual recipient (customer or employee) at every moment of interaction will ensure increased brand loyalty. We see a future where technology will continue to enhance these experiences and support the Economy of You.

Technology will continue to impact efficiency and ease in experience. However, we’re excited about a future in which technology helps to bolster and enhance emotion in experience. There isn’t a brand that isn’t investing in digital and UX, but in the seduction of code, it’s easy to miss the moments in which human-to-human interaction creates the most important “e” in CX–emotion. We foresee a pendulum swing back to human interaction because emotion is still uniquely human.

What are brands doing well in the CX department and where do the challenges lie?
Bakula: There is much for brands to celebrate with the work they have done and are currently doing in the Customer Experience realm. We see CX departments forming and staying, we see the emphasis being placed on the emotional aspects of experience and not just the functional. CX measurement is evolving to inform action.

The challenge lies in remaining focused while at the same time keeping pace with rapid change and the need to constantly innovate.  We’ve seen the industry attach to the latest CX vocabulary or latest technologies. We’ve had the Year of Empathy, the “Year of Emotion, now the Year of Purpose. There are customer journey mapping technologies, data visualization tools etc. There is so much for us to draw from, but in all of this access and excitement, the challenge lies in using the latest trends and tools to inform and progress a brand’s CX strategy versus having the tools and trends become the strategy.

The best of the best do this by ensuring their CX stays true to their brand–its personality, its philosophy, its purpose, its customer. Customer Experience is an expression and extension of a brand at every moment of interaction. The untapped opportunity remains in crafting a Customer Experience at each moment of interaction, each touch point, human or digital, to deliver on the promise of the brand with consistency and delight.  

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