Inclusion Makes The Brand Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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This post is by Anne Reuss, our own Community Experience Agent, who originally published this over at her site. Anne and I have been discussing inclusion a lot lately, and this is a great perspective for everyone to read!

I’ve been thinking about what brand experience means to me.

A positive feeling accompanies a successful customer experience. Duh Captain Obvious you might think but personally much of this originates from inclusion. Is that true for you? I might be paying more attention to this as a result of my work with Jeannie of 360Connext.  When we had our first lunch meeting, she made no fuss about communication.  We rocked it old school with pen and paper, her iPad and finger spelling.  She immediately embraced me as part of her team.  Her business also happens to focus on customer experience investigation (trademarked, baby) to isolate exactly what needs to be tweaked to amp up the loyalty of customers, employees and prospects within any level for businesses.

As a Deaf person, I remember constructive inclusion by brands in a big way. Since that lunch, a couple scenarios left a strong impression.

I visited Akira shoes on Diversey in Chicago. I was playing alcohol free beer pong for a discount (I was already wooed over) but one of the salespeople picked up that I was Deaf so she approached me in a relaxed manner and started signing bits and pieces. She disclosed she used to have reasonable knowledge of sign language. She was cheerful, talkative, and avoided being one of those awkward types that would either widen their eyes and back….away….slowly…..or blurt out “Ok! Sorry! I’m here if you need me.” You see those shirts? I like them. The looks we get are fun! I’m proud.  However, I recognize how it gives some people who need it a heads up to “prepare.” It’s actually nice sometimes, but…

People. There’s nothing to be sorry for!

A few days later, I missed a train and had to wait two hours for the next one. It was pouring. “Time for an adventure,” I declared.  Cameron (my brother) and I ran to Beggar’s Pizza for the first time. Pizza turned out decent. There was another customer that took shelter chatting it up with the bartenders so we moved. They effortlessly included us in the conversation by adapting their communication slightly. The takeaway? Their attitude was there was no burden involved. That made the decent pizza worth every penny during our wait.

Just one representative/salesperson can make or break the customer experience.  Feeling included is very important to me being Deaf, but the hearing probably react in the same manner, wouldn’t they? Relaxed communications would seem to be a good environment to promote business, yes? How much does inclusion mean to you as a customer? Or, how do you include people in your brand?

The notion of inclusion as part of the brand experience applies to the Internet too but that just has to be covered in a future post. But I will conclude with this: Deep down, I realize brand inclusion is an important factor that inspired me to create Signs for Startups. By encouraging brands to participate they get to explore an expanded aspect of conversation through visual cues they wish to associate with their service.

And it has the added benefit of being inclusive.

*Signs for Startups is ongoing. Ping Anne if you would like to become one of them!

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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