The battle for consumer hearts and minds is fought in the trenches. Mass marketing can provide aerial coverage — informing, entertaining and persuading — but it’s the smaller interactions with a brand that can sometimes turn the tide. Smart, attentive engagements can breakthrough when little else seems to have impact. By digging into the customer journey, brands can seek out and respond to everyday pain-points, functional interactions, even product delivery. Any of which can be the difference between a loyal, advocating fan and a one-and-done transaction.
Some of the most overlooked opportunities to create fans exist in the most functional moments of contact. Take the ubiquitous email receipt. Awhile back, one of our brand teams conducted a sweep of interactions and noticed the receipt email was one of the most widely opened communications. The receipt served a utilitarian function. By including surprising and fun ways purchasers could enjoy the product, we created more utility, joy and add-on sales, driving a stronger connection to the brand.
Too often when brands look at pain-point management, the urge to leverage it for gain is rarely calculated with the corresponding deduction in brand affinity. But this is a mistake.
Another nice example is Capital One allowing customer service reps to gift points that can be used towards vacations when they are hear about hard times their loyal customers are having, and even delivering a beautiful bouquet of flowers with uplifting and encouraging notes when appropriate. These efforts create genuine moments that are rewarded by positive social media posted and media coverage.
Another avenue is to build on a positive. Creating anticipation or escalating the gratification can magnify a core benefit and over-deliver in a wonderful way like what JL Audio does. When unpacking its high-end piano-black finish woofers, customers find a pair of white gloves, intuitively included to prevent fingerprints from tarnishing the unboxing experience. That small, relatively inexpensive touch cemented the ultimate premium impression.
The value of adding finishing touches, sending flowers, or white gloves may not be measurable through the lens of corporate performance, but companies on the leading-edge instinctively do it anyway. Because if you look at broader metrics, the benefits win out.
According to a Harvard Business Reviewstudy, companies that prioritize an exceptional customer experience significantly outperform on profitability, quality, market share and customer retention. With customer expectations on the rise, creating impact with smart, creative touchpoints—especially those that reinforce a brand’s positioning—will be increasingly more valuable.
5 Tips to Accomplish Brand Love
1. Think ahead. Take a look at the positive and negative customer experiences within the last year—what worked, what didn’t work—then make a proactive game plan to prevent the bad and make the good even better.
2. Follow the leaders. Look across the industries to see who’s killing it. Why not learn from the best?
3. Use your intuition. Don’t overthink it. Pinpointing meaningful interactions can be just as easy as choosing what your friends, family or even yourself would love.
4. Return the love. Even without grand gestures, customers go out of their way to express their brand affinity on a regular basis. Give back. Respond. And be genuine about it.
5. Map the journey. Leave no stone unturned. Deep dive into every conceivable touch point, and rank the experience.