Measuring Loyalty: Customers love the brand experience and want to share it with others
Encourage your customers to share your company’s experiences
A great sign of loyalty is a customer wanting to share your company’s solution with like-minded friends. Some examples…let’s say you are a realtor and a customer’s friends may be buying a new home and need some help. This customer may call you and find out if you or someone else in your company can help them. Or say you are a personal trainer or gym owner, and friends of a customer may be looking for a new, effective workout program and ask you for that recommendation. If you own a store, a customer may want to buy items in your store and send them as gifts across the country. Or if you own a bookstore, a customer may be looking for a new book for her book club and solicit your opinions. In these and other examples, you need to provide your prospects, customers, and influencers ways to share your company’s solutions within their own networks and groups.
There are many options for this type of sharing to happen. Here are a few ideas to get started:
The most obvious…sharing company content on social media: sharing content about the problem the company solves, people’s experiences with the company, product, or service, and most especially, understanding how people feel when their problems are resolved is a great way to introduce someone to a company’s products or services.
Webinars or other long-form free content can introduce someone to new ideas. This is a low investment approach to allow complex ideas and solution to be shared with others. An hour discussion can help people clearly understand what you offer and help others explain it better too.
Sharing the product or service with a friend or “bring a friend:” the best way for people to understand a product or service is for them to have that product or service experience themselves. By providing your customers opportunities to share experiences with their friends, you are allowing someone who is already sold on your company’s product or service to share it with others who will most likely to buy into it too. They most likely share the same persona. This is the best expression of loyalty.
Rather than using a buy one, get one free promotion to turnover product, encourage customers to send one to a friend to try. In such a deal, be more explicit with messaging so that a buyer can share their experiences with others rather than get a great deal for only themselves. Encourage the second item to be sent to someone else as gift in your company’s purchase flow. Most people don’t think about such a deal this way; nudge them a bit to do so through messaging.
Ship an order as a gift: This functionality comes in handy for ecommerce, but this functionality can offer dual purpose—it’s another way to share an experience with a friend. Promote some items in your store as shippable as a gift, even if the item is sold in the offline store. Sometimes, people don’t buy gifts to ship from a regular store because they don’t think this is possible. Help them clearly see that possibility. You may see an increase in sales due to that offer.
The B2B version: encourage a company to let a pilot program for your product or service run in a second location or sister company. A type of gift.
Referral: this is a more traditional measurement of loyalty—encouraging a customer to share your company’s or product’s name and information with their friend who has a similar problem that needs to be solved. Not only does it validate that your company has the right solution for them, but it allows your customers to spread the word about your company. Provide an easy way to do this along the customer journey.
Writing a review: one may think that this is an activity to help the company, but the review is a way to share an experience with many people through storytelling. Make this process easy by making access obvious and training or guiding customers to create great reviews by using pointed questions. Encourage not just written stories, but stories in video. That’s the best way to capture emotion.
The existence and activity of influencers are a great measure of loyalty—especially if they include customers and are unpaid. When customers are excited about your solution, they want to share their experience with others. Such reviews not only measure company accountability, but they measure loyalty.
I’m sure there are more ideas that could be added, but you probably see where I’m headed and you have more to add.
Determine how your customers prefer to share experiences
Now, you could determine who is using each of these tools or activities to share their experiences with your company with their family and friends. Knowing that may help you better understand which activities your customers find most share worthy. Is it the content and ideas? The product experience? And then ask the question, do they share with the same people over and over again, or different people each time?
And you can look at the frequency they do this to determine what’s works best not just for your customers, but for your company.
When you can identify which sharing activity is most popular, you can review what’s not popular and discover where loyalty breaks down or isn’t strong. For example, let’s say your company’s content is shared frequently but customers won’t write a review or share the product experience. That tells me that there isn’t enough commitment to your company for someone to write a short review about your company’s product or service. Something is holding them back. It may be worth asking good customers why they aren’t leaving reviews. There may be something missing in the experience or they aren’t 100% happy or it may be as simple as they have a friend who does the same work, and they don’t want to hurt their friend’s feelings. Or you could investigate if there is indeed demand for the product or service you offer. The customer’s problem may exist in their lives, but they may not see the problem solved as a world changing. That “world changing” experience is what is going to drive them to share their experiences. Discover if that is happening.
Few influencers being available to help spread the word about your company could also indicate a problem. If people aren’t speaking about your solutions on your behalf, something is missing in your company’s experiences and conversations. Try to discover the gaps through conversations or surveys.
You can also map this sharing activity to personas to determine which customers act on your loyalty activities, which makes this analysis far more powerful. From this, you could identify the persona that has the potential to be most loyal and share their experiences with others. Note that this persona may not be the persona who purchases the most. And knowing that can help you build a better relationship with the persona that is more open to share their experiences with others and nurture loyalty. You could then design programs targeted to that persona audience, so they share with their friends and spread the word about your company further. In some ways you are getting them to do your marketing and sales work for your company, which means you need to somehow compensate them too, and that’s addressed in the next video.
Challenges to overcome when creating ways for customers to share your brand experience
Note that there are 6 main reasons why customers abandon interacting with your company: customers prefer the competitor, they don’t understand their problem, they don’t understand the solution you are selling, they reprioritized the problem’s urgency in their life, they aren’t ready to solve the problem, they lost interest. There may be other reasons as well that you discover in your own research.
Now, before we wrap up, let’s discuss some reasons why frequent purchasing doesn’t always indicate customer loyalty. First, some products and services do not support frequent purchase, especially large ticket items. For example, you don’t get a new roof every week. Or a new couch. Or a new car. Or a vacation. Second, someone who purchases often may not want to recommend your company to friends because they purchase due to convenience rather than preference. So that person who buys a sandwich from your shop daily may do it simply because it’s downstairs from the office where he or she works. He may not tell any work colleagues where he gets his lunch because it’s a purchase of convenience rather than preference. To him it is food. It fills a need, satisfied his hunger, and it is easy to access. He’s not necessarily buying because he likes your product. This is why you need to examine the data about purchase activity to gain insights into trends and patterns to better understand who your most loyal customers are and what they do to best engage with them long- term. The patterns you discover may tell you what you could offer to build loyalty with your existing and new customers. In the case of the convenient sandwich shop, to improve their customer relationships, they could capitalize on the convenience they offer and deliver in the building. They would be emphasizing their company’s strengths. Or they could create a product that is so amazing that people have to share it—like the perfect tuna sandwich or chef salad to go. Bottom line: find ways to transition from convenience to preference if you want to build that customer experience and relationship to be shared.
Sharing experiences is a natural activity of a loyal customer. Who doesn’t want to share their joy and happiness over getting a problem solved in a great way? But it’s hard for a customer to share that if you don’t provide them the opportunity to do so in the way they prefer to share. Look at the data and discover trends about your customers to find not only the best way for your most loyal customers to share their experiences but identify the customer personas who are most likely to do that. Balance the purchase and loyalty experiences to engage customers and build your customer community. Become their preference that they want to share rather than a convenient option.
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