In this guest post, Dayle Hall (pictured below), senior vice president and head of marketing at Lithium Technologies, explains how brands can earn (and maintain) customer loyalty, one digital moment at a time.
Our lives today can be summed up by a series of digital moments. From the minute we wake up until the moment we plop back into bed at night, we are met by a series of stimuli, across multiple channels and multiple screens, that punctuate – and, dare I say, give value – to our daily lives. And since life seems to be moving at a dizzyingly fast pace these days, it’s important that every one of these digital moments count.
As creators of these digital moments, brands have a responsibility to make good on that promise. Not only does making every moment count simply a good rule of thumb, but doing so also sets the stage for creating great digital customer experiences that engender long-term loyalty. Here are a few things brands should keep in mind as they tackle this head-on.
Listen and respond
Savvy brands understand the importance of social listening, but listening is only one part of the equation. Creating a great customer experience means engaging with the people who are talking about your brand in real time. When your brand gets a shout out from a happy customer, it doesn’t take much time or effort to say “thank you” in return. This one gesture alone shows you care, which can work wonders for establishing positive brand affinity. Similarly, if a customer had a negative experience and decides to take to social media to spout out, then brands must seize this opportunity to work with that customer to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Long story short: great digital customer experiences are a two-way street. Brands must listen and respond, fast. Doing so makes customers feel as though they are the most important part of their business (which they should be).
Surprise and delight
This isn’t a new concept. However, just because we’ve talked about it in the past doesn’t mean it’s not still – if not more – relevant now. Truth be told, we have to work a lot harder to surprise and delight consumers than ever before, especially as they become increasingly desensitized to many of the digital moments they confront each day. It’s all become very commonplace and easy to tune out. That’s why it’s important to think of ‘surprise and delight’ as a synonym for ‘standing out’. The experiences you create for customers need to be memorable, provide value, and have a unique and relevant tie-in to your brand. And, above all, these experiences need to be consistently good, every time. You almost have to think to yourself, “Will this digital moment, this experience make a customer smile?” If not, you may want to rethink your strategy.
Connect the three C’s
Customers. Content. Conversations. These are the three C’s. Now, more than ever before, these three things need to be seamlessly aligned in order to create a more cohesive and valuable customer experience. Whether this extends to your social media channels or within your own online community, you’ve got to create a space where your customers can engage in conversations – with your brand directly or with other customers – around information and content in meaningful ways. This is all about curating an engagement-based experience. You can’t simply post content and pray that it will spark interest. Brands must be the stewards of every digital moment they create for their customers, listening to what customers want and delivering an experience that ultimately meets those needs.
Prepare for a crisis
As much as we’d like to believe – or hope – that life is all sunshine and rainbows all the time, every brand knows that it’s likely to hit a snag every now and then. And when that happens, this is your true moment to shine. So, if you feel like a crisis is brewing or customer sentiment has turned a bit sour for one reason or another, don’t just sit around waiting for it to blow over. You must seize every opportunity to get ahead of a looming crisis by showing your customers that you’re on their side. Staying focused on creating great digital customer experiences, even in the presence of crisis, is the best way to minimise negative brand impact. How a brand works through these tense moments can be the make or break for many customers. The brands that can proactively turn a negative situation into a positive customer experience are those that are best positioned to win customers for life.