Why the magic of a Tim-Tam brand experience says a lot

In this piece for The Australian, Tribal Australia Managing Director Davy Rennie argues there’s magic in Moments of Critical Context – “the moments in a customer experience that your ‘brand promise’ is most significant, the peaks or troughs that can only be solved when we prioritise emotion.”

I went to my favourite breakfast spot in Sydney the other day, Belgrave Cartel. It was busy. I had to wait a little bit to order.

The owner Joe came over, we had a chat, he spoke with my kids, recommended a couple of things, asked if we wanted the same coffee order as usual, and came back to take our food order.

Was this the fastest, most efficient experience in the world? No. Was the food exceptional? Yes. Did the service make us happy, and loyal? Absolutely.

My wife and I also went for dinner at one of the latest “cool” spots. The music was pumping, the place had a buzz, and there was a QR code on the table. You scan it, scroll through the menu, pick your items, order, and then your food and drinks are processed and thrown at you with enough pace to warrant a catcher’s mitt.

We didn’t chat to the waiter or the bar staff. We didn’t get recommendations. We weren’t keen on sitting on our phones; we were there to spend time together. The food was OK, but forgettable. The experience was memorable, for all the wrong reasons.

The difference in the two experiences was how they handled what we within the DDB Group call “Moments of Critical Context”: the moments in a customer experience that your “brand promise” is most significant, the peaks or troughs that can only be solved when we prioritise emotion.

Adore Beauty is a brand that does this well. You know, the brand that gives you a free Tim-Tam with each order? That Tim-Tam is so synonymous with the homegrown cosmetics retailer that when someone in the office offered me one, single wrapped, I asked: “What did you get from Adore?”

To be fair, Adore has nailed the basics of a cracking online experience, but that’s the price of admission now. That little piece of chocolatey goodness isn’t borne out of traditional experience design strategy. It’s creative, it targets a moment of time, and in a seemingly small gesture it differentiates the brand from the pack.

Forrester data mapping customer experience (CX) excellence in Australia shows that overall, brands have plateaued.

Dollars spent on CX initiatives and transformations continue to increase, yet we don’t see brands accelerating away from the pack across any of the major CX mapping scores in Australia.In the scramble to get “digital” after the effects of lockdowns, businesses have focused on the fundamentals.

But consumers are a fickle bunch.

They need meaningful experiences to create loyalty, because as soon they experience something slightly better than before, that’s their new baseline. And when they don’t have an emotional connection with the brand, they’ll switch.

We see this at scale in categories like banking, travel, groceries and fashion. A brand releases a feature update or new way of transacting, then their competitors follow suit with their very own update that looks and feels remarkably similar.

This invites risk of churn because there’s nothing building an emotional connection with the brand. When that new feature is tomorrow’s news, consumers will look elsewhere. We need to focus on how our experiences make consumers feel.

That little piece of chocolate isn’t just a great feeling at the end of an experience. It’s a stroke of marketing genius that turns consumers into loyal advocates.

CX science should be able to nail the ease, but it takes a special kind of creativity to unlock the true growth potential of your brand experience.

Having a team with a hearty mix of CX and behavioural science experts to identify the moments of critical context – before propelling thoughts off to creatives who come up with ideas to make those moments matter – is the norm for us. These fundamental bricks have to be in place to not just build an emotional connection, but to create an experience that’s more than just easy.

Take car giant VW as an example. With dealerships closed through lockdowns, we didn’t just create an online store, but launched a fleet of augmented reality vehicles that could be taken home and tried out before you’d had your first test drive.

When we wanted people to experience the fun of the new Golf, we hijacked the ad break with a video game, turning a
30-second experience into a three-minute one.

Loyalty and growth live in these moments of critical context and it’s creativity that unlocks this to the full potential.

While easy and effective are the cost of entry, if you truly want to ignite growth, you must create your very own “Tim-Tam experience”.

By Tribal Australia Managing Director Davy Rennie, first published via The Australian