Earlier this week I flew into Miami International Airport from Buenos Aires. This time I was keenly aware that all the signs were written in both English and in Spanish. And as far as I could tell, everyone who worked in the customs area was bilingual. When I got on the AirTrain, the overhead voice delivered the instructions in both English and in Spanish.
When I started this article, I was on another flight – this time to Vancouver. Every overhead announcement is delivered in both English and in French. After touching down in the city, I quickly noticed that all the signage was written in English, French, and Mandarin.
I started the day at the airport in Newark, where I came across a Mamava pod, a private room that moms can use for pumping or breastfeeding. A few steps later, and were portable bathrooms, touted as just “additional bathrooms.” I couldn’t help but think the bathrooms provided a safe space for transgender people who didn’t want to have to think about or go through any hassle associated with choosing which bathroom to go to.
Airports have a unique place of serving customers from all walks of life from all around the world. Their customer groups are diverse by nature in terms of age, country of origin, familiarity with travel, sexual orientation, languages spoken, dietary restrictions, religion, physical abilities and more.
And increasingly, airports of all sizes are doing a fantastic job of catering to these different kinds of customers, to enhance the experience they have with them, and make these customers feel like they belong.
While your business may not have as diverse a customer base as various airports, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a similar proactive approach in being inclusive with your marketing. Here are two ways to get started.
Revisit your buyer personas
Most brands put a lot of thought into their buyer personas. It serves as the Bible for the products, services, experiences, and communications you deliver.
But most buyer personas fall short in that they often unintentionally exclude the unique needs of large numbers of customers.
The solution: create more and more detailed buyer personas. Instead of trying to narrow down your target customers to fit cleanly into one, two, or even. three segments, take the time to get a deep view as to the different types of people who use your products and services.
For instance, the Miami International Airport identified that many of their travelers, English was not their first language. They likely went as far as to identify that a large percentage of the passengers speak Spanish.
As such, they could create a persona specifically for a Spanish speaking passenger, and then work to create an experience that supports the needs of those passengers.
For Newark Airport, as they spent time evaluating the types of travelers they saw on a daily basis, they recognized there were a number of moms who needed to pump or breast feed. By focusing on the needs of this persona, it became a simple fix to provide the pods to eliminate friction from the decision of where to complete these important tasks.
You can do the same for your business.
Take the time to think through all the different types of customers who have the problem that your business solves.
What are all the different nuances and other holistic views of your customer as a person, that have an impact on the experience they have with your brand?
Once you’ve put those differences and characterics out in the open and on the table, it becomes easier to create personas, and subsequently products, services, and experiences that serve those customers an and make them feel like they belong.
2. Align your policies to support executing exclusivity
It’s one thing to design an inclusive customer experience that makes your customers, particularly diverse ones, feel like they belong.
But it is totally another thing to effectively execute on that vision. That’s why you need processes and policies within your company that support you in delivering inclusive customer experiences.
In business school, I did an internship in Montreal. As a policy, every piece of content the team produced had to be delivered in both English and French. So we automatically baked into our timelines and workflow for getting materials translated.
There were no questions asked. No budget considerations to take into account. It was just how we operated.
You make inclusion a part of your brand’s DNA and culture, when you put policies and processes in place that support the experience you want to deliver to your customers.
Increasingly, more brands are discovering the benefits of being inclusive with the experiences they deliver. As such, customers, particularly with needs that are different from the “masses” are seeing that it is possible for companies to serve them.
Your brand can be the one to solve your customers’ problems like none other. Not just for the customers who fit the “norm” the ones who’ve got differences too. As a result, you will earn their loyalty.