Episode 165 : Forming and Building Stronger Brand Relationships through Digital

Dr. Anna Harrison is a top ranked Digital Technology Advisor, Product Expert and Author. Anna’s work has helped New Zealand’s best exporting and emerging brands create strategic and measurable plans to accelerate growth in new markets. Supported by successes across Europe, Asia, and the USA, Anna’s work will help you remove your reliance on luck in the future success of your brand.


  • We always like to give guest the opportunity to kind of just share a little bit about their journey in their own words.
  • Your book Digital Brand Romance, could you tell us a little bit about the book?
  • Could you explain to our audience what customer expectations are versus what customer satisfaction is?
  • Could you define for our listeners what a promise is?
  • So, that dovetails us nicely into the core of your book is based on the ADORE Process. Could you take our listeners through what that process is and what are the milestones in the journey of that process?
  • Could you also share with our listeners what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you also share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you, it could be a book that you read recently, or even one that you read a very long time ago, but it still has had a great impact on you.
  • What’s the one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you’ll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to get you back on track if for any reason you got derailed or you got off track?


Anna’s Journey

Anna stated that we are in for a treat. So, probably the best way to describe her journey is that it is non-standard and very nonlinear. She’s lived on four continents and done a whole bunch of different things. And probably if you look back across the last sort of two decades of work, the only common thread amongst it all is that she’s done interesting things and she’s worked with great people, and that really is something that drives her and motivates her to seek out new challenges and look for different things. So, loosely speaking, she’s worked in product design and product development, started in IT and so back in technology, work a lot with customer experience, and the drivers that help people to make choices and help brands to sell more stuff to loyal customers.

What is Your Book Digital Brand Romance About?

Me: So, our podcast is all about Navigating the Customer Experience. As you can imagine, when your email came across my attention, and I saw that you wrote this book called Digital Brand Romance: How to Create Lasting Relationships in a Digital World, I said to myself, this sounds very interesting and then I read a little bit more and it really got me intrigued. And so, I’m sure just as how I was intrigued, our listeners will be just as intrigued about your book. So, could you tell us a little bit about the book?

Anna stated that Navigating the Customer Experience just to sort of jump out and big picture, it’s her passion, it’s what she thinks about at 3:00 am in the mornings. So, lots of mutual interest and overlap and she’s excited to share some of the things she’s learned in her life with our audience today.

So, Digital Brand Romance, it’s the combination of about a life’s work so to say, and it looks at the factors that influence us as human beings and propel us to be loyal to a brand or not. And the cool thing about the book is that it breaks all of that down into really easy steps. And she thinks if we look at digital experiences and customer experience, and all of that, and it’s all in a digital space, very often we get a little bit scared, and we think, “Oh my God, what do we know about this space?” And we kind of forget that always at the other end of the computer, the person buying your pair of shoes, or the person buying the handbag that you’re selling, or the SaaS product that you’re selling is a human.

And as humans, we form relationships, and we make decisions in really predictable ways. And so, we remember this when we have relationships with other people in real life but as soon as we go to digital, we just forget everything we learned and we make things very transactional in our digital spaces, and we just hard sell the consumers.

And then we wonder why things are not working and why most of our marketing budget is being spent on Google AdWords and our conversion rates are super low, like 1% or 2%.

So, the book really explores what are the levers that we can pull to help us understand how people make decisions. And then how do we apply that to our digital assets, like websites, like email marketing campaigns, like our sales process, to really build strong relationships and a loyal customer base.

What Customer Expectations Are Versus What Customer Satisfaction Is

Me: Now, one of the things that came across my attention when I was reviewing your book, I like the fact that you spoke about customer expectations, you spoke about customer satisfaction, and you spoke about why they were very different. Could you explain to our audience what customer expectations are versus what customer satisfaction is?

Anna stated that it’s an interesting distinction here and when we think about customer experience, this is an interesting study that was done by Forbes a few years ago. So, Forbes interviewed a whole bunch of brands. And they said, “Hey, how would you rate your customer experiences?” And 80% of the brands said, “They’re excellent, they’re awesome, we’re doing a great job, our customers are happy.” They interviewed those brands, customers, and only 8% of people said that they were really satisfied with the customer experience. And so, that’s a really big kind of discrepancy there. Most brands think they’re providing great experiences, and most customers think they are not getting a great experience.

And so, this is the difference between those two things is customer satisfaction, and satisfaction; it’s a very personal and subjective thing, she may satisfied with something, whereas someone listening to this podcast might say, “No, that’s terrible, I’m very dissatisfied with exactly the same thing.” And so, understanding customer satisfaction and how we can affect it is really the most powerful lever that we have in curating experiences for our customers.

So, to answer the question succinctly, satisfaction is the difference between what you expect and what you receive, or what you perceive of the experience. So, if you’re expecting to wait in line for a meal for half an hour, and you get your table 15 minutes in, you’re going to be delighted, you’re going to be like, “Wow, this is fantastic. I was expecting to wait half an hour, and we’re in early.”

Whereas conversely, if you’re expecting to get seated at a restaurant straight away, and they make you wait 15 minutes, you’re going to be very, very dissatisfied. And so, the same exact experience is delivered by the provider, you get seated in 15 minutes. But in one case, you’re satisfied, and you’re delighted, because your expectations were that it could be longer. And then the other case, you really disappointed because your expectations were that it would be shorter.

And so, as a brand, and this is where all your energy can be very effective if focused right is, all you can do is set your customers’ expectations at the right level and through that you affect their satisfaction. That might be a bit too textbook nerdy, so she can give some examples if you prefer.

Me: Yeah, I think an example would be good to kind of just cement it for the audience so that they really understand. I got to reading the theory part of it totally and I thought it was a brilliant definition. I just really wanted you to share that, but if you could give us an example, that would be even greater.

Anna shared that there are tons of examples. So, let’s say you buy something online. And she bought a bar fridge recently. So, she bought a bar fridge, and it said it will be delivered in two days and so, her expectations are that in two days’ time the bar fridge will arrive. And then she got a message saying, “Please schedule your delivery.” And the only dates available were next week. So, 7 days from when she bought it, not two days. So, straightaway, she’s like, “Hey, I’m not happy with this, because I was expecting, and you told me that the fridge would be delivered in two days.” So, the only change that needs to happen there is that the brand selling the fridge should just tell her that the fridge won’t be available for a week or perhaps even 10 days. And then her expectations are set at the right place, and she’s delighted with the outcome.

Me: Yeah, I suppose it’s kind of like when we train our employees in organizations, and we’ll say that we should under promise and over deliver. And one of the things that I think impacts customer expectations greatly is what we communicate. And sometimes what we communicate – it’s not the truth, or I don’t know. Sometimes I think organizations communicate information that is incorrect intentionally, like it is their intention to exceed the customers’ expectations. So, they give them a reasonable time in their mind but then, when the actual experience is realized, what was communicated and what actually occurred, they’re not correlating.

Anna stated that that’s an excellent example. And to dig a little bit deeper into that, she thinks setting your customers’ expectations that are realistic or perhaps a level under which you know you can over perform is a really good strategy, with a little asterix on that, as long as you’re doing that in an authentic way. Because consumers are smart and as soon as your consumer feels that you’re trying to deceive them, that opens another can of worms, they’re going to run for the hills because no one likes the feeling that they’re being lied to.

However, as a brand, you have the ability to authentically communicate and to deliver information and this is something that’s super interesting that there was a lot of research done in the 80s by Don Norman, if you know him, he’s like one of the godfathers of design and have written amazing books over the years. But what came out of his research was that people are really open to changing their expectations when you provide them with authentic information.

So, coming back to our restaurant example, if she’s waiting in line for a table, and she’s expecting it will take a couple of minutes, but it’s going to be 15. If the restaurant gives her authentic and clear information as to why it will be 15 minutes, and then perhaps a gesture to compensate her for my trouble, that negative experience or what could have been a negative experience actually shifts to being a really positive experience.

So, with the fridge, if someone simply sends an email and says, “We’re really sorry, we typically try to deliver things in two days. But you’ve had public holidays and long weekends in Australia and so that’s pushed out delivery times out, and it’ll be a week, very sorry.”

That information, when it’s communicated authentically has the power to reset her expectations as a consumer. And so, it’s not about getting it perfect every time as a brand, you don’t have to get it right every time.

It’s like parenting; we’re often so hard on ourselves when we do something kind of not quite right by our kids. But you can make it right, you can have an authentic conversation and provide the information with clarity and with transparency and that will have a really powerful effect and reset your customers’ expectations so they can still have a really good experience, even when it falls short of what they originally expected.

What is a Promise?

Me: Another great insight that I took from reviewing your book was there’s a point in the book where you say the only reason anyone buys anything is to make their life better, which I suppose is almost the equivalent of people go into businesses to solve a problem. Most businesses were created with the intention of solving somebody’s problem, whatever it is that your business solves. But what really intrigued me further to what you said in terms of making their lives better, is that the challenge to sell more reduces it down to two things showing the buyer that you’re going to make their life better and delivering on your promise.

Now, could you define for our listeners what a promise is because I’ve been through many different customer service trainings in different industries, and I find that people are not clear on what a promise is. And they don’t realize that you don’t actually have to say the word I promise for the customer to view it as a commitment that you’re making to fulfill something that they’re requesting.

Anna stated that is such a great question and such an interesting pathway to explore. So, a promise is certainly not a contract. So, without even whether you explicitly and overtly know that you’re making a promise to a customer or not, you are even if they don’t sign a contract with you.

So for example, things like if you think about someone coming to your website for the very first time, in the first 10 seconds, that site visitor gets a sense of what your brand promise is, and that’s made up of a few ingredients, it’s made up of the styling on your website, your choice of imagery, your choice of font, your choice of colour, your logo, your hero value proposition tagline, all of those things combined into effectively, very quickly delivering a snapshot of what your brand promise is.

So maybe to correlate this to an example we’ll all be familiar with. When you meet someone in person for the very first time, your subconscious mind processes a whole vast range of variables and you make a snap judgement, you go, “Yeah, this person is the kind of person that I would like to have a conversation with and maybe if that goes well, we’ll go out for a coffee and maybe we could be friends.” Or “This person is just creepy; I’m going to run the other way. You know what I’m not having that this, a cup of coffee is not in our future.” And so, your subconscious mind is really good at doing that when we meet people in real life. And whether we think about it or not, we do exactly the same thing when we see a brand in a digital space.

And so, the brand promise is really the combination of all of those things and when you start looking for it, you’ll notice it. So, when you go to a brand like Porsche, the imagery on the site, the particular choice of fonts and colours and the logo design, all look like a very expensive and exclusive brand. When you go to something like Kia, it’s a much more approachable brand and this is all done through very subtle things like fonts and colours and the brand promise.

She works with high growth brands in Australia and out of New Zealand, and where they often will spend a lot of time and it’s an easy thing to talk about, and a hard thing to execute on, is refining the value proposition. And so, that value proposition is the explicit articulation of how you’re going to make someone’s life better. And she finds where brands often get stuck; they get stuck in two ways.

One is that they think about the features of their product and don’t recognize that features don’t make someone else’s life better. No one has a pair of Jimmy Choo heels because they have a high heel stiletto on them, they buy those heels, because of how those heels will make them feel, and how they will be perceived when they own that particular item.

And so, we forget this when we design our websites, and when we design our electronic marketing campaigns, and social media campaigns and so on, and we talk about features instead of what is the feeling? How really do you make someone’s life better? She doesn’t choose Skype or Zoom because they have a particular telephonic service with some grade of how fast they transmit her voice. She doesn’t even know the details. So, she doesn’t know what the technical specs for Zoom.

She chooses Zoom because it’s easy to use and she can click one button and connect with someone on the other side of the world. And so, Apple is probably an amazing example of at scale when we first stopped talking about features and started talking about how the product makes our life better. And so, to come back to the original question, what is the brand promise that we make? It’s all the subconscious things that someone will experience in the first 10 seconds on your website and that’s made up of fonts and styling and colours and imagery, and also your value proposition that you articulate in that hero part of your website.

What is the ADORE Process and the Milestones in the Journey of That Process?

Me: So, that dovetails us nicely into the core of your book is based on the ADORE Process. Could you take our listeners through what that process is and what are the milestones in the journey of that process?

Anna stated that the ADORE Process and a few people have asked her what does ADORE stand for. And again, she’s like; actually, it stands for nothing. But in technology, everyone needs an acronym and so here we go, we’ve got an acronym called ADORE.

So, the ADORE Process looks exactly at how we form relationships as humans. So, as soon as she walks you through it, she’ll be able to map that to, “Oh, yeah, that’s exactly how I form relationships with anyone I meet in real life.” And it translates it into milestones which we can affect and tune in digital, and also milestones where you can measure the performance for your particular brand against each of the milestones.

And the milestones and there is six of them. The very first one is zero seconds. So, zero seconds is simply the opportunity to have a site visitor come to your website. So loosely speaking, it’s all of your marketing activities, all of your social media, everything that you do to drive a stranger to your website, the moment that they land on your website, that’s zero seconds.

Then that first impression moment is the first 10 seconds that they’re on your site and this is where they make a snap judgement, whether you like the fact or not people make snap judgments and they’ll decide whether they’re going to spend more time exploring your brand and getting to know your brand, or whether they’re going to go to the next tab, and your closest competitor is always only ever in the next tab and sort of say, “No thanks, this isn’t the brand for me.” So, 10 seconds is that first impression sort of moment, first date, if you like.

And another thing which she often sees when she works with brands is that they want to tell you their entire life story on that first date. You’re like, hang on, I’d never do that in real life. But how is it okay in digital, or they’ll lead with something like a “Book a call right now,” and ideally one that pops up on the way upside the moment that you land there and you’re like, hang on a second. If she was meeting someone for the very first time and they went on a first date, and she said to the person sitting across from her, “Hey, you seem kind of nice. Do you want to move in and have seven kids together?”

So again, in person, we know how to moderate this, we know that relationships take a certain cadence, and we don’t violate those things in real life. But we do on a website, we’re perfectly happy to put a pop up that says, book a call right now, the minute that she lands on a website she’s never been to, like, “Hang on a minute, let me get to know your brand first. And once I know your brand, a little bit better than ask me that question.”

So, zero seconds, the arrival, 10 seconds is your first date, then three minutes, is that moment where someone has taken the time to actually get to know your brand a little bit more. So again, in human terms, it’s probably that three to six month mark, where you’re like, “Yeah, we’ve got to know each other a little bit, it feels about right, maybe now we’ll have a conversation about moving in together.” But don’t do that on the first date. And so, that three minute mark is that moment where someone has explored your brand. At this point, maybe they’ve looked at your features. At this point, maybe they’ve looked at, can I make this work for me. And if you’ve positioned those first few elements on your website in the right order, and in the right way, and you’re respecting how someone forms a relationship with your brand, the very natural next step is for them to want to sign up, they’ll want to try your product or service, they’ll want to perhaps buy the first T shirt that you’re selling, they’re ready for that next step.

And so, that sign up moment, it’s like moving in together, it’s a definite sign of commitment. And it’s super, super important to take note of that, because your customer is now saying, “I am making an active commitment to your brand.”And so, when you’ve got that, you know for sure you’ve got someone who’s interested, someone who’s spent the time getting to know you, they’re a captive audience. The rest is easy, assuming that you’ve got a really good product or service, which most brands she works with have amazing products and services, and they are just not sure how to develop that relationship with their customers.

And so, to give an example, she had a brand that she was working with, and they literally after the signup process, they were losing 95% of their people. So, they were spending all the money on marketing, all of their branding and their brand promise and the way they told their story was all done super well, they were getting a lot of customers to sign up each month. And then it was like a 95% drop off. And it was like, “Oh my God, what’s happening here.” And they changed a couple of really small things. And so, if you look at this part in the book, it will actually give you tangible tips for what to look for when things are going wrong, and what you can change. And this particular brand, they increase their revenue by $50,000 a month by changing a couple of buttons. So, these things do make a difference. And whether consciously or subconsciously, we do respond to digital, and to the formation of relationships with brands and digital, much like we do in real life when it’s a human and a human interacting.

But we’ve got zero seconds, the arrival, we’ve got 10 seconds, which is your first date, we’ve got three minutes, which is where you’ve told your brand story, sign up, which is your first moment of active kind of commitment. And then after that it’s easy street, all you then need to do is build into your product the right levers to create an upgrade, to create a repeat buy, to get the customer to pull more money out of their wallet and experience more and more of your product over time and so that’s upgrade. And then ultimately where you want to drive your customers to if your growth strategy is based on forming relationships, and that loyal customer base is to get referrals. And referrals are really important because a referral from someone that you trust shortcuts that whole customer journey by about 60%. And so, people will take shortcuts on the getting to know you part and go straight to sign up if the recommendation comes from a trusted party.

So, that’s basically the steps and in the book, in the ADORE Process part, which is the middle part of the book, it shows you for each of those steps, how do you measure success? So which of your website metrics do you look at to see whether you’re performing well or not performing well. And that’s important because when you make a change to your website, or you hire an agency to make some changes, you want to have tangible and objective proof that whatever updates you made are actually creating a positive effect on your conversion rate so that you’re getting a good return on the investment that you’re putting in to developing those digital assets that you own.

App, Website or Tool that Anna Absolutely Can’t Live Without in Her Business

When asked about an online resource that she cannot live without in her business, Anna stated that she was thinking about this the other day, and really, honestly, the thing she can’t live without is probably email but that’s not going to be much help because everybody uses email. So, something she’s gotten into recently is a product called Shortform. And Shortform gives you a summary of some of the best books on the planet and the summaries are just fantastic. So, if you’re starting out and you haven’t read any books at all, Shortform might not be for you but if you’ve read a bunch of books, and you’ve got an interest in business books, or how to grow businesses, and you’ve read a few things, Shortform is excellent because it fills in the blanks, and really tells you very quickly what the difference between this book is, and other things, which you may have read.

So that’s something she enjoys and they’re always adding new books into their library there. And so, in like 10 minutes, you can get the gist of someone’s amazing new ideas without reading a whole book so it’s a little bit of a hack and that’s something she’s enjoying. Other than that, she listens to podcasts, typically podcasts that are recommended by other people. So again, showing that once we get a good recommendation from someone, we do shortcut that whole decision making process and just go straight to, “Yes, this is the thing for me.” Probably, that email and Shortform would be her indispensable tools at the moment.

Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Anna

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Anna shared that she’s definitely been very impacted by books she read early in her career and these would be the classics, things like Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert T. Kiyosaki, the idea that things that you buy are either an asset or they’re not an asset and the idea that you can actually design your life so that you’re not dependent on a paycheck. So, that was super influential for her.

Other than that, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini, she thinks if you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re designing product, and you’re selling product, and you have an interest in understanding how do people make decisions and how do I, what levers do I have to influence them to make the decision that I want them to make? This is indispensable. And so, Robert Cialdini wrote the first edition of the book in the early 80s and it’s still true today. And it’s a fantastic book.

Other than that, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is a really, really beautifully written book, and it personifies ideas and it talks about concept that as people, we inhabit these human forms, but ideas are these organisms that float around us, and an idea might come and tap you on the shoulder and if you’re not ready for it, it’s going to go ahead and find some other human hosts that’s going to bring it to life. And so, when an idea pops into your head, it’s really up to you to take that idea and nurture it and grow it into something that becomes a business. And if you’re not prepared to do that, don’t be surprised that someone else halfway across the world seemingly has the same idea and brings it to life. So, she just thought it was a beautifully written and lovely book. Heaps of others, but those are probably her top three picks for the moment.

What Anna is Really Excited About Now!

Anna stated that the biggest thing that’s happening for them at the moment is that they’re taking Digital Brand Romance and they’re converting that into a SaaS product called Rammp. And so, people love reading books, and so on, but what she finds is that most people want a solution that is automated and that they can deploy to their business that will work for them when they’re focusing on the other important things in their business.

And so, Rammp does that, it takes the principles that are outlined in the book, those six milestones and it connects to your website statistics and then it will show you each month what are the most impactful and lowest hanging fruit that you can address to improve the relationship with your customers, and thereby increase your conversion rates. So they’re bringing that to life. If you look at the website today, it’s still a landing page but they should be launching that at the end of June. So, that’s definitely a very, very exciting thing that’s happening.

The other very exciting thing, which is possibly only exciting to her is that she has finally found another gym that she’s excited to go to because she’s been in fitness limbo for the last couple of years, just kind of on maintenance and alive, she’s really looking for something that’s going to be inspiring and she did that this morning. So, she’s super stoked about that.

Where Can We Find Anna Online

LinkedIn – Anna Harrison

Website – www.rammp.com

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Anna Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that she tend to revert to, Anna stated a 100% and you could see her right now, you’ll see that it’s written on a card and stuck to her computer and the quote is, “Merely do the work.” Some days you’re super motivated and you’re excited and everything is going really well, on those days it’s easy to do the work.

But some days, whatever, the stars have not lined up and you might feel a bit naa and you’re like, “Why am I even doing this, there’s so many competitors that are better, etc, etc.” And on those days, just put your head down and do the work, you started the business that you’re doing for good reasons, there is no one else in the world who is more passionate and better position to be working on what you’re working right now. And on the tough days, just put your head down and merely do the work. Life and business and pretty much everything we do is a marathon, it’s just a marathon and you’re doing a marathon, it’s just put one foot in front of the other and eventually, things brighten up, you got your inspiration back and you finish the race, or the run, or whatever it is that you were working on. So merely do the work.

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