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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Caldwell

We're talking LOVE, and how to get customers to fall in love with your brand

One thing I’ve noticed lately is that everyone is talking about making a business and its marketing “customer-centered.” But when you get right down to it, not all that many brands are actually doing it.

According to the 2009 “Customer Experience Maturity Monitor” report from the Peppers & Rogers Group, 81% of companies who provide great customer experiences and customer satisfaction do much better than their competitors.

Who do you think does it well in tourism? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and I’m not sure there are that many. Before you jump up and down and get upset with me, I think there is a reason for it.. a lot of tourism businesses are one time visits – and with the previous focus so many have had on the international visitor, it kind of makes sense.

But one that does stand out for me is Cardrona. They have an incredibly loyal and supportive customer base who go in to bat for them at every opportunity. And this is what I mean by being a loved brand.

Believe it or not, an emotional connection with a brand is a greater predictor of continued loyalty than customer satisfaction.

And making your brand lovable has a ton of great business benefits, including: Customer referrals, User-generated content, Social sharing, Customer retention and loyalty, Press-worthy testimonials and positive online reviews. And the odd bit of customer evangelism doesn’t hurt either right?

So how can you make this happen for your brand?

Well you’re asking your customers to fall in love with your brand so think back to when you last fell in love in your personal life. It’s a really similar thing.

You determine your type and then tell everyone you’re looking. You go out looking the part, and when you see them, you look into their eyes. Through talking to them, you find out what they are looking for, and you find your common ground – to deliver some value if you like before asking for commitment – like the next date. After that you’re focused on keeping the spark alive and gauging your performance to see how things are tracking, and to decide if you want to continue with that person.

If you relate this back to your business, it’s defining your target market, be clear in your communications that this is who you’re targeting, you engage with them in authentic two-way conversation, you make them an offer and then follow up and reward them for choosing your business.

Pretty easy right?

For a lot of businesses the biggest hurdle is actually that first step. Defining your target market. And I’ve heard a lot of tourism businesses talk about their audience as being ‘anyone that wants to travel’… well that’s definitely a bit too broad! So take the time to really sit and think about who your ideal customer is.

To make people love your brand, you can Start before they are even customers - if you’ve identified your ideal customer, you can start to seduce them. If you have a detailed profile of your ideal customer, you can find and target those who will be a natural fit with your business – can you imagine how powerful that is when you’re also able to filter out those who might be ‘problem customers’?

Creating and attracting a loyal audience is much easier when you start by defining your ideal customers.

Give your brand a strong personality - Your brand must have a solid voice in order for potential customers to relate to it. What is the message you want to convey? How do you want your customers to feel? You must determine the tone of your brand and really important - keep it consistent across all marketing channels. A lot of larger businesses probably have a tone of voice document that sits alongside their communications plan – but it’s equally as important for a smaller business to have this too.

Maintain a high quality of service in your business - Your customers must be able to trust you, and the way to build trust is with consistent high quality experiences and service. If you offer individuals high quality experiences every time, they are going to grow to trust you. We all know what happens when we get it wrong don’t we – AND how many people your customers will tell as a result. But remember, a lot of tourism businesses tend not to have that many repeat customers so the next step is to recognise the value of word of mouth marketing - consumers trust their friends and word of mouth doesn’t stop with just one interaction – they will tell a friend who will pass that on to one of their friends and so forth. It’s basically a way to go viral and you want it to be positive.

Now think about how you manage customer expectations - Customers often expect more than you can do. Fortunately, it’s possible to manage their expectations, deliver what you can and keep them happy.

You’re likely to be tempted to say no when customers ask for something that seems unreasonable or outside the scope of what you do. But consider this: Customers often make difficult requests because they don’t know what to expect from you.

They don’t know your rules, policies and generally accepted practices as well as you do or, perhaps, at all. Most ask because they don’t know the possibilities and limitations. Only a small percentage know what to expect and try to get more or take advantage of you. So this is where adding more information to your website FAQ section or product pages can help. Arm your staff with solutions, and be transparent with what you can and can’t do with your customers.

Give clear timelines – for example, if you have a backlog of emails let them know how long it might take for you to get back to them. Customers generally don’t mind waiting a little longer than usual if you set expectations for them, and then deliver on it.

Be optimistic and realistic – explain what you’re aiming to do for them, but what might also get in the way of you doing what you need to do and most importantly follow up! Customers generally don’t mind, and in most instances will expect some kind of follow up from you.

Once you’ve gotten to know your customers, get personal with them. Treat them like part of your whanau – keep them in the loop with what you’re doing – communicate with them! Is there an opportunity for you to offer them a special deal or exclusive sneak peek at a new product launch? How can you make them feel like royalty for being part of your exclusive club?

Need some more tips?

Create great content. Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people follow brands on social media. It’s also what keeps them on your website longer.

Have a great brand identity. 46% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion discerning the credibility of a company (don’t scrimp on your website, this is often the front door to your business).

Be cool. People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.

Provide great customer service. Go the extra mile to satisfy their needs because 89% of customers stop doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.

Under promise and over deliver. 3 out of 4 customers say they have spent more with a company because of a history of positive experiences.

Well I hope that’s given you a little insight into love and how you can get customers to love your brand. Would love to hear what tips you’ll implement inside your business and how it helps.Or what have you done previously that’s really worked?

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