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Winning in the age of the customer experience: the Rule of Four


Winning in the age of the customer experience: the Rule of Four


CEO of DDB Group Australia, Chris Brown, writes on the ‘Rule of Four’ – the criteria customer experiences must deliver in order to win.  


As we all know we are currently in a period of great change, which presents numerous challenges as well as important opportunities for our own and our clients businesses. Fundamentally, the context in which we operate has changed. From a linear well-defined path to purchase where advertising and marketing had a clear role, to a multifaceted and multi-layered customer journey where the many and varied interactions and experiences all positively and negatively effect both brand reputation, advocacy, and ultimately, sales.

And the stakes are high. As a recent Forrester report, ‘Brand Building in the 21st Century,’ reminded us, brands that fail to deliver against those expectations will struggle to surviveThe question is, what do we need to do to ensure our clients take advantage of the opportunities within this new context?


Getting a deeper view of the customer journey

We now, more than ever, need a more holistic and detailed view of the customer journey as what was once siloed, is now interconnected and more fluid. Truly becoming customer centric is key. Success requires a radical rethink of how products, services and marketing evolve to reflect a deeper more intimate understanding of what matters to customers. The ultimate goal is to create compelling and enhanced customer experiences that reflect the insights and moments of truths that exist along this journey. The smart use of data, both big and small, as well as experience design and high-end UX capabilities at the heart of the process, versus a step on the process, is key to unlocking this. And creativity of course.


The Rule of Four

The task of creating customer experiences that deliver against these new criteria can at first appear daunting. However, we believe there are four important areas that can help filter the type of behaviour and experiences brands must create: 

1. Is it useful? There is a need to provide utility in a personal, engaging and relevant way.  The access to, and use of, data allows for tailored, more personalised valuable experiences that are more engaging and effective.

The TrackMyMacca’s app is a good example of this. McDonald’s business challenge was to address the negative perceptions that surrounded their product. We wanted to provide customers with the truth about what they were eating, in a relevant and personal way. By linking into McDonald’s supply chain and using GPS, we were able to create an app that allowed the ingredients in a customer’s order to be tracked to their origins. The TrackMyMacca’s app was a personal, engaging and relevant experience that bolstered the brand’s positioning with the consumer and is now being rolled out globally by McDonald’s.

2. Does it engage the emotional brain? It has never been more important to leverage the power of emotion to help create an enhanced experience with a brand. The IPA research ‘Marketing in the Era of Accountability‘ has proved this beyond doubt. Brand storytelling is not a new concept but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand experiences have become a strategic priority and an even more important tool in our arsenal. At DDB we talk about ‘Social Creativity’ – the importance of creating content that people want to play with, participate in and pass on. Arguably, one of the best case studies of recent years is Wieden and Kennedy’s work for Old Spice.

Some closer to home includes the recent Arnott’s Tim Tam 50th Anniversary campaign from DDB Group Sydney and the phenomenal success of Adam&EveDDB’s John Lewis Christmas campaigns. Modern advertising experiences across paid, owned and earned media that inspire, entertain and more importantly, drive both brand preference and an outstanding retail outcome.

3. Does it relate to a higher purpose? Deliver behaviour that demonstrates the brand is committed to delivering against a higher purpose and create social value. A brand’s image and reputation is dictated by how it is perceived by the consumer. For business success, brands need to deliver and sustain a reputation that demonstrate its positioning for the ‘greater good’ beyond sales. A great example of this is StarHub’s ‘Third Eye’.

StarHub Mobile committed to delivering against a higher purpose when it partnered with the Society of Visually Handicapped in a micro-volunteering project called ‘Third Eye’. With this project, which was designed to crowd source vision and care for the visually impaired though inbuilt iOS and Android accessibility features, the brand found a way to truly add value to peoples lives. Within the first few weeks of launch, the approximate ratio of volunteers to visually impaired was at 12:1 demonstrating not only the positive brand interaction by consumers but also the extended network the initiative opened up for the telco.

4. Is it predictive? Consumers are increasingly demanding of brands – “Act like you know me” – so use and aggregate both big and small data to provide a tailored and bespoke experience.

Consumers want to feel like the brands and products they use and engage with are tailored specifically for them. By providing personalised, relevant and unique content in line with consumers’ likes and dislikes, purchase behaviours and demographic profiles, brands will increase consumer presence, interaction and drive short and long-term sales

For example, Telstra’s ‘Always On’ – real-time marketing that brings greater targeting and messaging using brand site behavioural and transactional data, to deliver a more focused message. The digital programme is live 365 days a year. It markets in real time to prospective customers, using their previous online behaviour, demographic insights and product portfolio knowledge to identify their individual needs and deliver a tailored individual message based on the information generated. Consumers have responded en masse, appreciating the targeted and tailored approach to their experience – the program has delivered over 1.3 billion personalised ad exposures.



The new age of customer experience has raised the bar and expectations of how brands must behave.

The opportunities for those brands that can capitalise on these trends are huge. If the experiences are useful, emotive and demonstrate that not only do you understand me by being relevant and predictive, but you also care about the wider community, then the rewards are substantial in not only direct sales but also the critical metric of advocacy.

Those brands and businesses that do not understand this are destined for a fast journey to commercial oblivion.



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