In today’s diversified, competitive market, driving a consumer to try your product or service for the first time often takes a significant investment of resources. Delivering on the value or benefit you have promised is essential to fostering a relationship with your customer that has substance, durability and longevity. The difference between a negative, neutral or positive brand experience is surprisingly small. Each customer interaction is a chance to make a great impression, gain share of mind and develop long-term brand loyalty – so what can you do to make a difference?
1. Find out what matters to them.
You may think your in-room dry cleaning service is the best thing since the World Wide Web, but if your hotel caters to lakeside tourists and families, it won’t matter. Think about what your customers find valuable and find a way to offer it. If you are a business-to-business company, it may come in the form of easily downloadable notes on your latest products. If your focus is retail consumers, you may want to think about a simple loyalty rewards program. The point is, it doesn’t have to be big – it just has to be relevant.
2. Admit your limitations.
Admitting your limitations doesn’t mean broadcasting your shortcomings to your customer base. It does, however, mean recognizing the areas you excel in and focusing your energy. Your brand can’t be everything to everyone. If you try, you will inevitably end up disappointing your customers in an attempt address needs you either do not have the resources to meet, or lack the experience to satisfy. Instead, pick a targeted portfolio of services or products and over-deliver.
3. Maintain your brand.
It is necessary to evolve to survive in today’s market. However, be careful not to lose your customers in the process. Strengthening your brand and improving your offerings will gain you points with your customers; altering your brand image based on the hottest weekly trends will not. Create clear expectations for your brand and make sure you live up to those expectations. If you do not, you risk confusing your customers or loosing them to brands they view as more established and consistent.
4. Keep your promises.
If you take a close look at your marketing and advertising, you should see the reoccurring values, features and benefits you communicate to the consumer. Above all else, you must deliver on these promises. There are few things that will hurt your company more than dissatisfied customers. Disappointed customers talk. They sound off on social networks, write online reviews and activate their word-of-mouth networks. Take care of those that take care of you.
5. Know when you’ve won them over.
Nothing is more frustrated than gifting your loyalty to a company, only to be blasted with an email the next day asking you to become a customer. Keep track of your customers, and make sure you recognize their status as such in any direct communications. The shift in marketing and advertising channels has primarily been driven by the fact that consumers don’t want to be treated like another number. Be sure to communicate your appreciation for their business and strive to treat them like a valued member of your business.