Tag Archives: Brand loyalty

CX

Maybe this customer-centric thing is starting to sink in.  I’m encouraged by the results of a study put out by the eConsultancy folks in conjunction with SDL which explores how retailers are addressing customer experience, or CX for short.  From the results it seems that many retailers have figured out that price is just one factor in the purchase decision and that it is outweighed these days by how customers interact with the brand.  In fact, the report states that providing an exceptional customer experience is the single most important strategic choice that retailers can make now and in the years ahead. 89% of the retailers surveyed for this report agreed or strongly agreed to the statement “Our customer experience is our brand.”  It’s a good point for any business, retail-based or not.

Think about it.  A quick visit to a search engine can usually produce pricing comparisons but that same search engine tells you little or nothing about how the customer is treated.  If you’re researching a product, how complete and truthful are the product listings?  If there is a problem with your order or you have a question as you purchase, how helpful and responsive is the customer service?

Every business (even mine!) has customers of some sort.  Their experience with you begins with their first encounter: maybe your website, maybe some content you’ve issued, maybe the response to a form they filled out or maybe someone answering a telephone enquiry.  There is one thing I found surprising in the study which is that only 12% said “company culture” is a barrier to successful customer experience management.  If that’s true it’s incredibly encouraging and represents a big shift.  I’m not sure I believe it however.  Many companies still put way too much emphasis on pushing merchandise that provides the highest margins or which is aging over the needs and wants of the customer.

If your product has been commoditized (read that as “if your primary selling point is price”) than you are going to have a hard time competing from my perspective.  A great customer experience differentiates your brand.  I’m glad to see that way more folks are agreeing with that and investing in that differentiation.  Is that something you’re doing?

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Three Types Of Customers

I saw the results of a survey by the folks at SAP a couple of weeks ago and have been meaning to write about it as we hit prime shopping time for the holidays.  They announced results from the Customer Journey Poll, a survey aimed toward helping organizations improve their understanding of customer happiness and encourage brand loyalty.  They polled more than 3,000 Americans, ages 18 and older, to gain insight into what makes customers loyal to a particular brand.  What they found is interesting, albeit not very surprising.

They uncovered three very interesting personas that they claim definitely did not exist 10 years ago:

SAP found three distinct personas that surfaced from the poll data: The “virtuous” customer who patronizes companies that have values to which he or she relates; the “invested” customer, who loves to interact with companies and often seeks guidance and information; and the “ignored” customer, whose inquiries about a product or service sometimes get delayed or ignored. By understanding which customer falls into which persona, brands will have the ability to deliver content that customers consider most important and, in turn, improve overall engagement.

First is the Ignored Consumer:

While email is the most popular way cited to communicate with companies, nearly half of respondents (48 percent) reported problems with delayed or no email responses.  These customers… likely wouldn’t continue to patronize a company that cuts them off.

No kidding.  But how many of us are guilty of creating exactly that group among our customer base?  On the other side of the fence is the Virtuous Customer:

Virtuous customers are those who repeatedly buy from companies they deem to have values similar to theirs. Poll data showed that shared values was cited by 30 percent of Americans as a reason to stay loyal to a brand, making it one of the top three reasons for loyalty. Seventy-five percent said the product/service itself spurred loyalty, while 41 percent cited discounts/offers.

Finally, there are Invested Customers:

Invested customers are the ones who love to interact with companies. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they’d either like or might like (depending on the company) to be offered help via chat or phone before they even ask for it. A whopping 80 percent would either like or might like to be kept up to date on new products.

Interesting.  Just as there are different types of customers there are different methods with which to engage them.  It’s increasingly important that we not offer up one-size-fits-all solutions and focus on reaching each segment in a manner that addresses their loyalty hot buttons.

Worth some thinking?

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Mixed Messages

Today we’re going to have a little Fast Food Friday Fun.

 

FATBURGER

(Photo credit: roboppy)

 

I hardly ever eat it any more (strange how my waistline seems not to miss it) but there is one outlet that I hit up every time I’m near one – Fatburger.  For those of you who live East of the Mississippi, this chain is located mostly in California, Nevada, Washington, and Arizona but there are outlets in a few other places.  Unfortunately for me, New York City just became one (but it’s in an area in which I rarely go so I hope to stay away…mostly…).

 

Why I love their burgers is pretty simple and is right there on their website:

 

Fresh, lean beef.  Never frozen patties, Cooked-to-order.

 

And they’re topped with a selection of the usual stuff – cheese, bacon, chili, a fried egg – as well as other things – grilled onions, jalapeños  yellow peppers – that one doesn’t generally find readily available but which make it possible to get the burger tuned perfectly.  Have it your way indeed!  It’s a fantastic brand promise – one to which the food adheres.

 

So you ‘re wondering why the love note on a business-blog (even if it is Foodie Friday)?  Because of the Fatburger truck tour and that:

 

The national food truck tour coincides with the introduction of Fatburger frozen beef patties in more than 3,100 Walmart stores, which will be arriving in stores by the end of June.

 

I understand why they’re looking to sell patties through the biggest retailer in the country.  What I don’t understand is instructive for any brand.  I love this place because it’s not “fast food.”  The beef is not some iced over hockey puck slapped on a grill.  What they’re selling at Walmart is a Fatburger in name only.  As an aside, I wonder if it really is the same product that goes to the restaurants or if it’s just a licensing deal with a supplier that has no connection   Be that as it may, while  they’re expanding sales they’re cheapening the brand, at least in my mind.  It’s an inferior experience.

 

Fatburger isn’t alone in making this mistake.  Starbucks instant coffee, for example, is the antithesis of the heady, fresh brew that one gets from a barista.  Luxury brands doing GroupOns has the same effect.  While driving revenues is always a goal for any brand and every business, that can’t come at the expense of the brand image or experience.

 

Let me hear your thoughts.  Maybe it will distract me from wanting a Fatburger in the worst way right now…

 

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Hitting The Mark

I’m not a big bourbon drinker but I do enjoy it from time to time.  A friend of mine invited me to be a Maker’s Mark Ambassador a while back, which is a sort of frequent flyer program for the brand.  That’s given me a front row seat to something that’s happened over the last week and is a fantastic example of how marketing works these days.

Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maker’s Mark has been doing an awful lot right with the brand, so much so that there is a shortage of product.  Earlier this month (about 10 days ago as I write this), the distillery emailed us that they were going to be reducing the proof of the liquor a bit.  Watering it down would be an apt description. Another bourbon brand did the same thing a decade ago and not much happened when they did so.  This time,  as one might expect, outrage ensued.  However, as we’ve discussed fairly often here on the screed, that outrage is now easily broadcast across the planet.   The negative response built on Twitter and Facebook and after three days there were thousands of posts which were amplified by others.

Maker’s Mark then did something very smart.  They listened.  They acted.  They sent an email to all of the Ambassadors.  Mine showed up yesterday morning and it said, in part:

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

Perfect.  Take responsibility for your actions (don’t hide behind “mistakes were made”), express regret, and explain what you’re doing to fix it.  The positive reaction was immediate and loud – 16,000 “likes” on their Facebook page and a couple of thousand positive comments within a few hours.   This is how it works in the social age.  Listen, respond, be transparent, rinse, repeat.  This is how the Maker’s hit the mark after a big miss.  They’ll have to find another solution to their supply problem – once which doesn’t involve watering down the product (and the brand!).  It’s a good lesson for any brand.  Do you agree?

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Looking For An Untapped Market?

Have you ever taken an online survey? Many of them begin with some sort of demographic screening (after they ask you if you work for a research or marketing company). I always shake my head when I get tossed out of the survey (“Thank you but we are looking for respondents with other characteristics”) after I give my age. Once one is over 50, we disappear to most marketers and that’s dumb.

My thinking is confirmed by a study from the Nielsen folks called “The Most Valuable Generation.”  You can register and get the report here.  Some of the findings about we Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are that we account for:

There are a number of other findings about our brand loyalty (same as other age groups), online shopping (we do a LOT of it), social media use (a bit behind but catching up fast) and premium travel (we’re 80% of it).  The reason I’m bringing all this up is the head-shaking number:

5%.

That’s the percentage of CPG advertising that’s geared to Boomers (who buy 50% of the product).  It’s a huge opportunity for someone.  As an article on the report summed up nicely:

Boomers are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing and they are too valuable to ignore, concludes the report. The numbers on Boomers are big, and they add up to something that is very compelling.

So if you’re a marketer, are you going to listen to the facts and take advantage of an opportunity or are you going to let some bad targeting habits continue?  Your call!

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