By: Shad Bookout
Your customers today are smart…real smart. In fact, you would be shocked to learn just how smart they really are. The information revolution over the past few years has allowed them to know more about the brands they choose than ever before. They know your history. They know what people are saying about your company. They even often know about the corporate culture that you project.
The level of access to information about your brand that customers possess is unprecedented. Because of this, you can either be loved… or hated. Look at brands such as Time Warner, Wal-Mart, and Sprint are consistently maligned by consumers. Chipotle and Volkswagon, once loved, are now scrutinized over recent problems that consumers (and the brands’ image) have experienced. But then brands such as Nordstroms, Amazon and Apple are turning customers into lifelong fans. What are they doing that these other brands are not?
These are three traits that you see attached to very few brands today. It seems that more and more companies are obsessed with automation, efficiency and profitability, rather than allowing those things to be a result of the customer interaction. It is the brands that lead with a corporate culture devoted to customer happiness that garner the most positive connections. That might mean spending a few more dollars operationally. However, when you are honest with customers, have great core values that you stick to and eliminate customer service barriers, you turn consumers into advocates.
“I love navigating automated phone queues”, said no one ever. Your customers want to talk to you and they want you to listen. That means you need to be providing them the opportunity to directly engage with your brand. Is your web site easy to navigate and optimized for viewing on mobile devices? Do you have open social media and review sites where your customers can talk about you? Will a live person pick up the phone if a customer calls? But being open to being contacted is not enough. Are you responding to their comments and inquiries? Just sending a prompt reply email or return phone call is more than half the battle. The brands that customers love are the brands that are part of the conversation.
You Create Friction
Why do people love Uber and Amazon? Because both are easy to use and both go out of their way to make it easy for customer to use their brands. That is not the same case for all businesses. Some even seem to make things more and more difficult. People will pay for convenience and people will pay even more for convenience that also creates value. That means they save time, energy and have a quick emotional return when they interact with brand ambassadors. Always be searching for new ways to simplify your customer’s world. Your customers will thank you for it.
What other things can you do to help your customers transition from thinking of your brand as something they have to use to something they want to use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.