Ignite Brand Loyalty and Win the Love of Customers
This post originally appeared on Monster.com
Losing his Jay ZX Lego character on a shopping trip upset Luka Apps pretty badly. So the seven-year-old sent an email to Lego headquarters explaining what happened and asked (hopefully) for a replacement.
The response from Richard in Lego’s customer services division is now legendary. Not only did Luka get a new Jay, he received a story he’ll remember for a lifetime.
Lego is one brand that understands the power of the small gesture and brand loyalty. They made a boy’s dream come true and inspired him to dream.
Lego also showed that they understand what their product is about and that it cares enough to personalize its customer services. That personal touch has no doubt cemented Luka as a lifelong fan, one who will carry on the Lego tradition with his own children in the future.
The Brand Loyalty Opportunity
More than a decade ago, the company brand conversation moved from selling by yelling, to winning the hearts of consumers.
At that time, globalization of the commodities markets saw cheap goods flood into stores, with the focus on quantity overshadowing quality, and producers relying on price-point to generate mass sales. It was then that brands realized that they couldn’t compete on price alone. They need to offer more.
This marketing concept has elevated the expectations of consumers and changed the way that brands do business. That concept was captured in our Lovemarks project. It’s about creating meaningful relationships and giving people a reason to invest their time, money, and attention. It’s a two way relationship, and one that starts with respect and builds through emotional connections.
Respect is about product performance, nurturing trust with customers, and enhancing brand reputation. As Frankie Byrne said, “Respect is love in plain clothes.”
Nurturing Brand Loyalty, One Customer at a Time
In order to grow brand loyalty, brands need to prove themselves at every step. Performance is the ultimate table stake. If it’s too hard to use, people will find an easier solution. If it’s unreliable, it will be discarded. And performance isn’t limited to just product; it’s corporate governance, customer service, and commitment to delivery. It also requires brands to jealously guard their reputations and go beyond what’s expected of them.
Apple did just that when they unwittingly served a tech blogger whose iMac started to crash a month after his warranty expired. They replaced the faulty components for free, a decision that saw him proclaim to the world that he would only ever buy Apple from that day onward.
Had Apple stuck to the letter of their contract, they could have lost a customer, and one who might have spread a negative word. Instead, Apple created an inspirational consumer who now advocates on their behalf because of how he was treated. This type of social marketing defines today’s consumer-driven marketplace.
Moving beyond respect to love requires that personal touch. Brands have to be able to connect on a level beyond a commercial transaction. They have to evoke strong emotions through the experiences they offer — through their products, their purpose, their stories and their vision.
How can your company cultivate its own Lovemark and start generating lifelong brand loyalty? Here are five steps to get you started:
1) Generate Insight — Ask whether the insights that traditional research is producing are insightful? Most aren’t. To uncover revelations, get personally involved with people.
2) Raise the Bar — Raise the customer service standard from ‘giving people what they want’ to ‘giving them what they never dreamed possible.’ Go past satisfaction to inspiration. Amazon, for example, has appointed ‘Customer Experience Bar Raisers.’
3) Appeal to All Five Senses — Customers operate on all five senses — sight, sound, touch, taste and scent. Most brands operate on one or two. Find ways to bring all five senses into the customer experience.
4) Be Personable — Add empathy to delivery. Ask to be invited into customers’ individual hearts. This is intimacy. The Ritz-Carlton switched “Please stay with us” to “Let us stay with you.”
5) Be Inspiring — Customers today are bombarded with information. There’s no mystery left, yet it’s what we don’t know that has most value. To become loved, bring forth inspiration, dreams, icons and myths, stories and past / present / future together.
Once you’ve embedded this approach, don’t stop there. Just as love can be won, love can be lost. Show commitment and passion for people, and it will be returned.
Brian Sheehan, author of Loveworks: How the world’s top marketers make emotional connections to win in the marketplace (powerHouse Books, 2013) is Associate Professor of Advertising at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University. Previously he was with global creative powerhouse Saatchi & Saatchi for 25 years, with CEO roles at Team One Advertising in Los Angeles and at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia and Japan.
Loveworks follows Brian’s books Basics: Online Marketing (2010) and Basics: Marketing Management (2011). He has been published in Advertising Age, the Journal of Advertising Research, and in several peer-reviewed books and journals. In 2011 Brian was presented with the coveted Teaching Excellence Award by the Newhouse School’s graduating class.