While it is relatively easy to recognize the importance of strong, loyal consumer base, it is much more difficult to understand exactly how to establish one.
The American Marketing Association defines brand loyalty as a situation in which a consumer generally buys the same manufacturer-originated product or service repeatedly over time rather than buying from multiple suppliers within the category. Furthermore, it can also be described as the degree to which a consumer consistently purchases the same brand within a product class.
However, a brand ambassador isn’t just a satisfied user of your product or service. True brand champions can’t say enough positive things about your business. In the customer satisfaction realm, they are the definition of your net-promoters. They sing your product or service’s praises and share their feedback about your company in every aspect of their daily lives – including social media!
Today, consumer feedback and product/service review listings have prime real estate on the Internet. Many of your new and existing customers are being exposed to your brand as a result, whether the interaction is positive or negative.
So now that we’ve defined true brand loyalty and profiled today’s modern, empowered brand champion, it’s time to discuss how to develop an army of these folks. Here are some basic building blocks to help your brand get started recruiting the most powerful consumer segment of all — brand ambassadors!
1. Be Human!
Think about the first five minutes just about every business conversation you have. It usually starts with some small talk about the weather, your family, your favorite sports team, etc. While this banter may seem frivolous, it presents an unique opportunity for brand representatives to build rapport with the heart and soul of your business- the customer! There is nothing more frustrating than being put through an endless, automated process or enduring the efforts of a pushy salesperson. This same principle applies to social media. Leverage your social platforms to engage with your customers on a personal, less formal level. Be real, spark up a conversation and you’ll be pleasantly surprised where this leads you.
2. Listen. I know, it sounds so simple. But many service providers and product producers overlook this simple aspect of the consumer relationship. By asking your consumer what problem they are trying to solve or goal they are trying to reach, you will ultimately gain their trust and respect, fulfill their request and build a lasting relationship that will fuel your sales cycle. No one wants to feel like a number, making it ever-so important to treat each consumer as a unique person. Remember, conversation is a two-way street. By making people feel actively involved in the purchase of their product or service, you will build incredible brand loyalty.
3. Become a Source of Added-Value
When a customer interacts with your brand, you are given the opportunity to go above and beyond the service standard. This everyday scenario provides you with the chance to exceed your customer’s expectations and convert them into a brand loyalist. For example, let’s say you have a leak spring in your house and you call a plumber. You schedule a service call, the plumber arrives and gets to work. Upon the completion of the repair, the plumber offers you money-saving tips for how your family can conserve water and prevent future leaks. While this helpful consultation isn’t far beyond the scope of the traditional duties you would expect a plumber to perform, it will likely leave a lasting impression and make you more inclined to refer to plumber to friends and family who find themselves in similar situations. Lesson learned? By engaging your customer right away you will make a connection they will never forget and increase the likelihood that they will endorse your business online and offline.
4. Give your Customer a Voice
Make an effort to constantly reach out to your customer base in order to solicit their feedback. Great brands know how to convert their weaknesses into key differentiators in the marketplace. While many companies struggle with the concept of being transparent about openly addressing customer criticism, we believe it can be incredibly powerful – when managed responsibly and respectfully. Actively trying to improve each customer’s experience is a surefire way to create brand ambassadors.
Having an Army of Brand Ambassadors will not only help drive your bottom line, but it will transform your brand into respected authority within the industry. By developing and implementing a strategic plan that is easily actionable, you will be able to harness the brand power of your net promoters. This will not only help make your product/service stronger but it will amplify customer satisfaction in the long run.