Screens, the final frontier between customers and your brand

Orange is the brand that people feel most exposed to in real and digital life according to recent research*.
Béatrice Mandine, Senior Executive Vice-President, Communication and Brand at Orange, and Pierre Briffaut, a service design expert and CEO of the digital agency HiveWorks, talk to us about the new relationship between customers and brands in the digital communications age.

Our relationship with brands has evolved. Orange has transitioned from a customer satisfaction-based approach to an approach centered around its customer experience. What changes will this mean?

Béatrice Mandine: We talk about our customer experience because, like Starbucks, Ikea or Nike, Orange has become an experiential brand: a customer’s relationship with us starts well before they enter one of our stores and continues well after they buy one of our products or services.

Pierre Briffaut: When businesses thought in terms of customer satisfaction, they invented products, and satisfaction was measured at the time of purchase. And possibly the after-sales service stage. But today, businesses are inventing experiences, which encompass what happens between the brand and the customer before, during and after their purchase. This requires a much more in-depth understanding of customers, in order to offer them an optimum experience over a longer timeframe.
BM: This understanding is achieved by listening to the expectations and aspirations of our customers in order to develop “customized” solutions that meet their needs, such as booking an appointment with an in-store sales adviser online or checking the availability of a product. In addition, the Group’s ambition is to recognize 100% of its customers in each of its contact points in 2018 through the sharing of smart data between digital and physical channels. This will enable advisers to offer an increasingly personalized service.

Have the internet and digital technology not been major factors behind the increased scope of expression for customers, as well as for brands?
BM: Yes, definitely. Digital technology has increased the number of points of contact, in other words the means available to customers for interacting with a brand, or simply expressing their views about it. Before entering a store, customers look up information about their products. On social media, they exchange information and make certain perceptions of them. Dialogue is being established between the brand, known as conversational, and its stakeholders…as well as between the stakeholders themselves. The positioning stance for brand communications is becoming less important than how it behaves and acts, how it talks online.
PB: Digital technology can be seen at every stage in the customer experience. To create an optimum digital customer experience, it is essential to build up an increasingly fine-grained understanding of our targets’ profiles, needs and emotions. The expression “Brand is UX and UX is Brand”, the brand is the user experience and the user experience is the brand, highlights this core position for the user experience.

Dialogue is being established between the brand, known as conversational, and its stakeholders…as well as between the stakeholders themselves. The positioning stance for brand communications is becoming less important than how it behaves and acts, how it talks online...
Béatrice Mandine, Senior Executive Vice-President, Communication and Brand at Orange

As a conversational brand, how is Orange rolling out this digital communication?
BM: We are simply going to address our messages to the audiences that are interested in us where they are located. As there are now more points of contact, we are adapting our messages. As a consumer brand, we are still working with traditional means of communication (posters, promotional videos, etc.), but certain audiences such as young people have their own media, so we are heading out to meet them on social media, talking to them with a more specific, targeted approach.

Faced with the need to be increasingly well-informed, how can we prevent the risk of communications becoming confused or dispersed?
BM: The brand must know how to “be everywhere”, adapting itself to various media, while remaining consistent, without distorting its messages or identity. To be effective and stand out, Orange is working to make its editorial line consistent. We have organized our communications and our offer around day-to-day essentials - home, family, money, etc. - in order to ensure we produce content that is always useful for our customers.
Orange.com has been reorganized. How has the customer experience been taken into account when overhauling the site?
PB: Through service design. Service design makes it possible to understand a brand’s vision and ambition on the one hand, and the needs and expectations of customers on the other. We therefore started off based on Orange’s strategic priorities, and then we carried out an experimental review with users. With service design, the iterative aspect is crucial: it is better to launch a version and test it continuously with customers, than to try to achieve a supposedly perfect version that is not going to evolve.
BM: The way we have designed the new homepage is a good example of this approach. We wanted to focus on the legibility of our experience and the exhaustiveness of our content.

With service design, the iterative aspect is crucial: it is better to launch a version and test it continuously with customers, than to try to achieve a supposedly perfect version that is not going to evolve...
Pierre Briffaut, service design expert and CEO of the digital agency HiveWorks

Can further surprises be expected in the near future with digital communication?
PB: The conversational aspect will continue to develop, with artificial intelligence and chat boxes. For instance, Google has launched a new text message-based service for communicating with the brand, on the search engine's sponsored links.
BM: There is no end in sight for this movement, the possibilities are fascinating and endless…provided that they offer useful value. Innovation is only worthwhile if it effectively serves people. At Orange, we monitor and track changes in uses, technologies and society in general. This approach illustrates the Human Inside philosophy, a review of our values that feeds into all our actions and that we want to establish in an increasingly core position!

*POE Digital 2015, Havas Media research with CSA