Branding. Branding. BRANDING! So, I’ve been doing a lot more reading, research, and realizations about branding. If we go waaaaay back, #brandPT is what more or less got me started on this journey of promoting business excellence in all things physical therapy. We can dig way back and even find old blog posts from my Kettlebell Therapy blog and Blog @DrBenFung where I’m trying to champion a cause to find our signature moment in the eyes of our customers.
Well, having revisited some truly interesting content, here are some updated thoughts on branding.
5 Ways To Build Brand Loyalty
1. Make them your story.
Meaningful relationships, authentic engagement, and emotional connections are pivotal keys, whenever customers interact with any given brand. If you look at all the world leaders in brand experience, you recognize some important elements such as: (1) names are used, not numbers; (2) expectations are set, managed, and delivered, every single time; and, (3) regular contact from brand to customer is consistent and welcome.
When a brand centralizes nearly everything they do around their customer’s experience, the customer becomes the protagonist of the brand story. They become the focal point, and, they know it. They love it. They feel it, every time. And, they crave that feeling each following opportunity. When that connection is made, customers aren’t just likely to re-patronize your establishment. They find themselves questioning why they should ever go to anyone else.
2. Have them as an insider, your insider.
Just as flattering as it is, being part of a brand’s story; it is just as attractive to be an insider. Whether it’s functioning through select surveys, exclusive opinion panels, etc. The fact is this, if you give them an inside track to be in the know; their experience becomes your success, and, they will become invested in both! Furthermore, having them as an insider means you have an insider on the front lines of customer experiences, demands, expectations, complaints, hopes, dreams, and more.
3. Give them immediate attention.
We are a truly time sensitive society and culture. Particularly amongst millennials, if things weren’t 5 minutes ago, they are already days late. Similarly with customers, give them the shortest route & time span between them engaging your brand cognitively, and, you engaging them intentionally. So, if you’re a brick-and-mortar retail business, make sure a designated greeter available. And, when I’m talking about a designated greeter; I’m not talking about someone who listlessly waves and says welcome. I’m talking about someone who intentionally engages a curious customer and guides them to the next step of the brand experience. This could be toward the receptionist, to a help desk, to the right area of the store… whatever brings them closer to saying, “Yes” to your brand.
4. Listen & follow through with timely action.
Having an open, transparent, and safe venue for two-way-conversations are a must-have for brand loyalty. And, perhaps what is more important, is the action following such conversations. Active listening is great. Action, is greater. Action communicates a genuine sincerity on the part of a company, organization, or brand. It tells the customer, “Hey. I hear you. I see you. Here’s what we did. Thank you for your suggestion. It helped us a lot!” These types of customer encounters comprise an invaluable addition to any given brand experience. It becomes part of us. Customers can point out specific things, saying to their friends & family, “Hey, notice that change this company did? I suggested it!” And suddenly, back to #1, they are part of your story.
5. Follow up and welcome them back with a preview.
After a customer completes a purchase or service encounter, make sure you follow up with them. Welcome their reviews on your performance, especially on how you can improve. Make sure you don’t just follow up once. Follow up across the continuum of their customer life cycle. Additionally, as related to #2, invite them to be a part of a special, sneak peek preview/focus group, to evaluate innovations, constructive changes, and even, to meet celebrity type icons within your company’s brand. The additional value here is that you bring them the reason to come back to you, rather than try to attract them back over. What this demonstrates is as much as you wish for them to be loyal to you, you are unconditionally loyal to them. That, is a powerful statement for any brand to make.