A strong and unforgettable brand image that resonates with customers, and communicates reliability and trustworthiness, is a dream come true for businesses. However, firms have their task cut out in making customers like their brand, and develop affinity towards it. The way forward is for brands to invest in customer experience management, or designing and reacting to customer interactions so that they exceed customer expectations.
Here are five tips to this end – aimed at delighting the customer and building a greater affinity between the customer and the brand.
Customer experience management goes beyond making the actual sales transaction a pleasurable experience. It aims to make sure that the customer is delighted throughout the life cycle, right from the time she becomes a prospect.
Earlier, marketers used blatant sales pitch and advertisements extensively to create a popular impression of the brand. However, in the age of multiple touch-points and information overloads, these methods face diminishing returns. Also, brands no longer have control of when and how customers reach their message. The onus on marketers now is to build a relationship with their prospect, engage in a conversation, and coax an emotional response out of them, to ultimately build affinity for the brand. Persuasion and motivation becomes just as important as communication.
Engaging in a conversation with customers, to build a relationship with them, is not easy. This is where social listening becomes important. Step in to correct misconceptions, offer sops, take swift action to resolve service problems, and support common interests. A recent Customer Contact Council study estimates more than “delighting” consumers, reducing the time and energy that customers must devote to solve a problem promotes brand loyalty.
The way to promoting brand affinity is to “stay in touch” with prospects, but not by intruding into their lives. Assume the case of a customer browsing the online store who finds out that the item she wants is out of stock. Capture that event, add personalized notifications to the account and have an email notification when the product is back in stock.
It is important to talk about things that the targets has an affinity for and wants to hear, but yet the marketer has to relate and integrate it to the brand. A good example is FedEx leveraging the BP oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico to donate “vibration free” trucks and logistics expertise to assist with the delicate operation of moving highly fragile turtle eggs to safer nesting areas. FedEx then promoted this story through the social media, to strike a chord with its consumers and environmentalists.
Honesty and genuineness is the number one requirement in delighting the customer and building brand affinity. Misrepresentation, misspelling, false or misleading information, game-changing details in the fine print, bait and switch, and any practice that communicates one thing and delivers another is sure to annoy the customer and stifle the long term prospects of the brand. Just as a happy customer is the best advertisement, an unhappy or annoyed customer can wreck great damage in today’s socially networked world.
Being transparent goes a long way in building trust and boosting brand affinity. Related to this is taking responsibility when things go wrong, admit mistakes, and make amends rather than hide behind lawyers. Customers appreciate openness, and the fact that the brand takes time to communicate with them regarding key changes.
Brand affinity is almost synonymous to goodwill. The way to promote goodwill is through top-notch customer service. When every member of the team goes the extra mile to make sure the customer is satisfied, brand affinity increases. Even obvious things, such as making it easier for the customer to buy, something that many brands take for granted when the reality is different, contributes to boosting brand image and affinity.
Promoting a greater affinity between the customer and the brand helps the company in many ways. A good brand image means that customers would more likely stick with the brand, make referrals and even become brand advocates – all offering significant competitive advantage.
Conneqt Business Solutions offers customized and flexible solutions to deliver on premium customer experience that is sure to delight customers, spread goodwill, and promote the brand. As a first step, download a free whitepaper on how to deliver a premium customer experience.