Imagine this scenario: a customer is perusing the aisles of his local grocery store in search of a bottle of remoulade (or remúlaði in Icelandic). After he has located a handful of different brands of this most famous mayo-based pickle-infused hot dog condiment, the customer now faces a dilemma: which one to buy? Should he choose the same old bottle he did the last time, the cheapest one on the shelf, or his childhood favourite? What it all adds up to is how the brand connects with the customer, and how this connection influences his buying behaviour.
Our customer decides to buy the remoulade he remembers from his childhood. He sees the familiar font on the label, and is awash with memories of visits to a favourite hot dog stand touting “the best hot dogs in the world”. He also recalls a time when he posted a question on the brand’s Facebook page on how to make his own remoulade from scratch with the brand’s mayonnaise, and received a timely and thoughtful response accompanied by a delicious recipe. He clutches the bottle, drops it into his basket, and walks to the next item on his list with a smile on his face.
The company that produces his chosen brand has made a very deep connection with him on a subconscious level of which he may not even be aware. This emotional connection is a very powerful tool that all companies should be striving for. According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “Customer loyalty is the feeling of attachment to or affection for a company’s people, products or services. These feelings manifest themselves in many forms of customer behaviour. The ultimate measure of loyalty, of course, is share of purchases.” If you can connect with your customers on this level, then they will show their loyalty not only by repeatedly buying your product on future shopping trips, but they will tell other people about how great your brand is.
According to a Gallup article called Customer Satisfaction Doesn’t Count, pursuing the elusive goal of “customer satisfaction” is for naught; rather, companies should be aiming to establish an emotional connection with customers. If a company can connect with a customer on an emotional level, and hence encourage them to be fully loyal to the brand (maybe even become a brand ambassador to convert others), then that company will have a “fully engaged customer”. This customer is not only satisfied with the product and the brand experience but has also become deeply connected to it. A company’s financial and social success can be a testament to their ability to lasso in a torrent of brand-loving-and-promoting customers.
In the 21st century, there has been a more dizzying level of competition for customers than ever before. With the advent of social media technology, brands have to work doubly hard to capture the attention, let alone loyalty, of customers because the market is flooded with companies all trying to do the same thing. It is simply not enough to produce a good product that people like and continuously buy ̶ satisfied customers defect. Customer loyalty always comes with satisfaction, but satisfaction does not always come with loyalty.
With that in mind, there are some strides you can take to enhance your customers’ experiences with you to promote loyalty. Here are a few:
Put the customer first. This sounds so cliché, but there is sound logic to this idea. If you look beyond your desire to make profit, and focus on giving the customers what they need and want, they will bring you the profit you desire through their loyalty and by sharing their good experiences with your brand with other people – which will lead to more profit. It’s a win-win situation.
Be empathetic. If you know how your customers think and feel, you can better meet their needs. This is especially useful when a customer makes a complaint. Really put yourself in their shoes to understand their grievance, then make the effort to help them overcome the issues they experienced with your brand. This could mean the difference between losing an irate and dissatisfied customer to a competing brand, or retaining a customer who is even happier in the end despite the upset because of how hard you worked to rectify their complaint.
Listen to your customers actively. With social media, it is way easier to show that you are listening to your customers because there are so many different platforms through which you can show that you care about what they think, feel and want. A timely response to a question on a Facebook page or Twitter feed shows that you are present and that you are listening.
These are just a few common-sense strategies you can put into action for your customers and for your business. For more ways to optimise your customers’ experiences with your brand, visit the DalPay blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.