“Your website isn’t the center of your universe. Your Facebook page isn’t the center of your universe. Your mobile app isn’t the center of your universe. The customer is the center of your universe.”
– Bruce Ernst
When it comes to building brand loyalty, there’s not one formula that works. Every brand has a different story to tell and equally different storytellers, a.k.a customers. That said, bad customer experience can sway even the most loyal customers to the other side of the loyalty spectrum. Adopt these three tactics to develop a satisfying customer journey, creating brand fanatics along the way.
1. Have empathy for your customers.
In the Great Recession of 2008, car sales were falling. Despite the slow economy, Hyundai, the car manufacturer, managed to boost sales by double-digits, increasing market share by 40%. What did they do to achieve this remarkable feat? They listened to their customers.
Which led them to discover that customers weren’t holding back due to financial constraints; rather, it was the fear of getting laid off.
To address this concern, the company rolled out a campaign at the beginning of 2009 called the “Job Loss Protection Program” where buyers could return a vehicle purchased from Hyundai within a year – no questions asked – without worrying about the remaining payments on the car.
In the end, potential customers became lifelong brand fanatics in one sweep, and Hyundai came to be known as a brand that truly cared for its customers. Plus, it gave the customers exactly what they wanted and needed at that time.
Key takeaway: Brands who begin by understanding and having empathy for customers will always lead.
2. Engage with customers in real-time.
Once you’ve established that you are listening and understanding your customer, the next logical step is that they will come to expect personalized experiences. In order to make that happen, brands need to be able to synchronize customer data for rich, relevant targeting, as quickly as those experiences unfold in the moment. Leveraging continuous onboarding and activation is one way to make that happen.
Another way to capture–and retain–customer attention is by providing real-time support with tools such as live chat software. Thanks to the growing popularity of artificial intelligence and machine learning-led tools, chatbots have transformed from being merely robotic tools to conversational, intelligent systems. They work 24/7 to improve a user’s experience with the brand, address concerns right away, and guide customers to the relevant human agent within seconds so that no questions go unanswered, and all customer expectations are met.
Key takeaway: If you wish to convert your customers into loyal fans, you need to invest in technologies that enable real-time interactions to inform, entertain, educate and delight.
3. Reward loyal customers often and generously.
“Customers prefer rewards programs with cash value, relevance, choice, aspirational value, and convenience.”
– Harvard Business Review
Frequent flier deals. Loyalty cards. Lower interest rates to customers with a better credit history. The examples of customer reward programs are plenty.
The trick lies in reaching out to the right customers, the ones who are bound to keep engaging with the company in a sustainable manner. It also helps to identify the ‘chronic switchers’ and work on different kinds of rewards for different kinds of target groups. Many of the most-loved brands offer customized deals and personalized offers to reel customers in. Consider the Starbucks Rewards Program, which offers free in-store refills, free bakery items, free drinks on your birthday, and the list goes on. Another brand that’s acing the rewards program game is Sephora. The brand comes up with innovative ways to excite new customers and engage existing ones by giving free samples and announcing rewards.
Key takeaway: Brands need to offer custom deals and discounts that don’t come off as “short-term fads” in the customer’s eyes. These deals should offer real value to customers so that they keep coming back for more.