Everybody likes to say that they’re focused on customers, but in reality there are few companies who actually deliver on this promise – are you one of them?
The Healthy Brand goes beyond simply satisfying a customer’s need and works to have a healthy relationship. Brand affection must be earned. This isn’t just about the fuzzy, warm feelings. It’s about the fact that when you have better customer relationships and awaken brand passion, you’re better off financially and in a better position for brand growth.
Here’s the proof:
- Bad customer service costs companies in the US $83 billion annually.
- Consumers in the US are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies that provide excellent customer service.
- Reducing customer attrition by just 5 – 10% can increase annual profits by as much as 75%, according to a study by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Become your customer’s only one. Learn these 4 ways to awaken brand passion:
Do we believe in the same things?
People look for brands with values they identify with. They want to buy from authentic brands they build trust with. Just the way that people create stronger relationships with others who share their values, people create stronger relationships with brands who share their values. It provides a unifying purpose. When brands have strong values that they live by, they give people a reason to buy other than features and price. And that’s very powerful because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete on price and features alone. It’s hard to have brand passion for a company that doesn’t align with your values.
Brand Values Red Flags
- Your brand never apologizes or takes responsibility for bad behavior.
- Your brand is dishonest.
- Your brand has an identity crisis.
- Your brand doesn’t have clear, defined values.
- Your brand doesn’t live by its stated values.
Do you care about my happiness?
Creating positive brand experiences is paramount. How can you expect to kindle brand passion without making it an enjoyable experience? You must consider every brand touch point, including how your salespeople act, how customer service responds, the packaging, the purchase process…everything.
- 89% of consumers purchase from a competitor following a poor customer experience.
- About 4% of dissatisfied customers complain. 96% just go away.
(Source: Harris Interactive, 2011 Customer Experience Improvement Study)
You’re not exempt from this because you’re B2B or in a highly regulated industry. Business is human to human, and humans will definitely react to negative experiences.
- fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
- Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.
(Source: Psychology Today )
In addition, regularly solicit feedback so you know how you’re doing. It’s about more than just doing your job well; it’s about going out of your way to create positive brand associations.
Brand Experience Red Flags:
- Jealousy and insecurities are creeping into the relationship.
- You’re no longer having fun together.
- The customer feels bored.
- Your brand makes customers annoyed/unhappy more than they make them happy.
Don’t forget about me.
A study from social software provider Lithium reveals 53% of consumers expect a brand to respond to a tweet within an hour. That number jumps to 72% of consumers expecting a response if the tweet is a complaint about the brand or its products.
Responding to customers in a timely manner parallels what you know about basic etiquette. The rules are no different when dealing with customers. If anything, you should go above and beyond what’s expected. People expect you to respond to most forms of communication within 48 hours.
Even if you’re bound by regulatory and legal rules, usually this does not restrict you from at least acknowledging you’ve heard the customer and that you’re working on it. People are more forgiving when they understand the situation, so be honest with them. It’s okay to let them know you might need some time, but that you’ve heard them, you’re working on it, and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. When you approach it like a human, you’ll get the same courtesy and grace period of a human. Approach the situation like a cold, meaningless company, and you won’t get any slack even if you’re trying.
Brand Responsiveness Red Flags
- You give customers the silent treatment.
- You don’t respond to customers in a reasonable amount of time.
- You aren’t thanking your customers.
Are you in it for the long haul?
Showing commitment to customers means consistently making the customer your priority and giving them the attention they need. You shouldn’t wait to connect with a customer until they want to purchase something. That’s like only going out on dates with someone for the free meals. It’s not a formula for a happy, lasting relationship. People don’t feel brand passion unless there is a certain level of authenticity. Show that you are committed for the long haul. People want to know they can count on you.
Commitment Red Flags
- You’re spending more time apart from the customer.
- The customer doesn’t want to make any plans with you.
- You consistently make the customer your last priority or the customer feels like an afterthought.
- You try to make every customer date involve spending money.
If you can live your shared values, prove you care about your customers, show you’re responsive, and consistently provide positive brand experiences, you’re much more likely to cultivate customer love. It may seem like a tall order, but if you’re not willing to do it, another brand is.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.