Guest Post: Intentional Interactions and Social Rewards To Build Customer Loyalty
Customers are not simply faceless numbers anymore. Now they interactdirectly with companies large and small, often through social media. This rise in direct access and instant feedback has put pressure on brands more than ever to engage customers and create the best user experience possible.In a recent interview with TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, customer loyalty experts Ashley Tateand Barry Kirk discussed the need for brands to focus on intentional interaction and programs that build customer loyalty through connection.
Corporations Doing It Right
Tate’s recent experience flying on Jetblue serves as the perfect example of how prompt and respectful responses can make a positive difference, even in negative situations.
“I had a bad experience on a flight and the minute we touched down, I tweeted at them. I received an immediate response and was overwhelmed by the positive way that they reacted to my bad experience. From now on, I'm going to be definitely going back to JetBlue just because of the way that they handled that situation. They were able to really gain my loyalty just through their words and their actions through their social channels.”
No matter how hard you try to design a great loyalty experience, the highest area of impact on customer satisfaction is how your employees interact with those customers.
Tate cited Red Bull as another great example: :
“The company does a phenomenal job just in the way that they have built a community around an energy drink. They have integrated with professional sports and their event with Felix Baumgartner parachuting from space last year. Redbull pays close attention to their social channels and their content to drive brand loyalty.”
The reality is that every brand has the ability to create its own identity. Instead of just being another energy drink, Red Bull has created a lifestyle of excitement. Several large brands, like Apple, Inc. and Harley Davidson, have also exhibited the power to unite people together through subtle actions that created an inclusive community.
Customers Need To Identify With You
Kirk said integrating customers into the brand identity is the key, and social connectivity is one of the best ways for brands to make that personal impact.
“I don't think anybody is going to pull up a memory of them sitting alone in a room. Experiences with other people and are the most powerful images for the brain to recall.”
Tate said sharing content through social channels, commenting, following brands, or even interacting with other customers and community members can bring some pretty serious loyalty in return.
“Most important is rewarding your customers for referrals. ‘Word of mouth’ marketing is still a huge deal, as it is one of the most trustworthy forms of marketing. It's not just a great way to reward and say thank you for passing their feedback along to their friends and family, but it's also a really nice way to turn your customers into brand advocates, which in turn will help increase their long-term loyalty.”
Let Customers Share the Love
One great technique to employ in a loyalty program is allowing people to gift their rewards or points to someone else, Kirk said. It’s a technique that is common in airline programs like United and Southwest. Tate said a community forum in which members can place badges on their member profiles can have an impact on the customer experience.
Regardless of the engagement strategy, the messaging must be crafted carefully. Kirk warned that using the word consumer can cause disconnect. The goal is to connect people together, and it is hard to do that when the interaction seems like more of a business transaction than a true connection between individuals.
How does your brand engage its customers? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And for more ideas on engaging customers and creating loyalty programs, listen to full interview above.
This interview was conducted by Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that is dedicated to educating, advising, and connecting the buyers and sellers of business technology. Clark hosts the TechnologyAdvice Podcast, and also covers news and trends in the tech conference scene. Tweet him a hello or connect with him on LinkedIn.