Our companies aren’t defined by the numbers of employees we have, the size of our offices, or even the revenue we gross each quarter. Any successful CEO will tell you that there is more to business than numbers and sales. That it isn’t the products that define who we are, but the brand.
At the heart of our brands are the interactions we have with our customers. Every chat, every email, every product purchased has an effect on how our brand is viewed in the market. While this insight isn’t new to any of us, it is remarkable how often we ignore it, sacrificing customers’ desires to save time, money, or both. Brushing past one customer’s request is acceptable, but how many times have we passed over just one? One becomes ten, ten a hundred, and soon we are out of business because our brand is associated with disinterest and apathy.
Don’t believe me?
A recent study completed by researchers at Matterssight found,
“More than 85 percent of millennials have been disappointed by a company’s service and support in the past year, and nearly 50 percent of those respondents have had a disappointing experience in the past 30 days.”
Couple that with the millennials ever-growing purchasing power, and we can see why ignoring our customers might indeed lead us down a bad path!
Be a Brand, Not a Company
Everyone has a company. Everyone has a product or a service. However, solidifying our company as a brand — an emotional entity rather than just a practical one — is what sets us apart from the competition. But what is the easiest way to start achieving this?
Start by listening to your customers!
Millennials are often misunderstood. Though their lives are often defined by the technology they use, and though they can often be found in front of some sort of screen, ironically, they demand personalization and personal interaction. Not only do they want quality products, they want them delivered in personal and responsive ways. As Jim Fischer, a PR expert and contributor to B2B Community, explains in an article,
“Customer engagement is the indisputable moment of truth when your company connects in a memorable, emotionally satisfying way. It is the powerful combination of not only delivering what your customers want but also helping them feel connected to your business.”
Engaging with our customers can help us to reshape our brands and market to completely new, previously unknown customer segments. However, we must begin devoting time and energy to improving our customer engagement strategies now or be left to face the consequences.
Here are some simple steps to jumpstart this process.
1. Learn What Customers Are Saying
Now that social media exists, any one of our customers can publish their opinions at any time. Though we may feel that social media isn’t a personal spot due to its public nature, millennials feel the opposite. They expect their inquiries answered. Listening to their tweets, messages, and posts is no different than answering a phone call or walking out of our office to greet a customer.
If a dissatisfied customer knocked on your door right now, would you shut the door and ignore them? Probably not. We need to listen to customers’ feedback and take the time to respond to them. One caring response posted on a public page shows hundreds or thousands of customers that we are kind, passionate business owners who value our customers' opinions.
2. Create Emotional Connections
Building a brand requires more than a solid product and great marketing efforts. To truly succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, we have to change our customers’ “wanting” mindsets into “needing” mindsets.
Our customers purchase our product because it solves a problem or serves a functional purpose in their everyday lives — they need it. However, there are likely a dozen other businesses that have a similar product or service that does the same. In order to succeed, we must go beyond this need and make them begin to want. Because of the brand we build — the promise of trust, quality, and excellence — customers will begin wanting our product more than the other available options. Jim Joseph, marketing guru and author, explains in an article for Entrepreneur,
“When you reach an emotional level with your customers, you become a brand in their minds. You've made an emotional connection that rises above functional features and that builds loyalty.”
3. Create Consistent Commitments
Interacting with our customers and listening to their feedback — both positive and negative — will help build trust and honesty in the relationship. This loyalty ensures that these customers will evangelize our business by word of mouth, which will in turn attract more customers in the future. But even more importantly, these brand-building strategies will ensure our current customers' continued use of our service for years to come. Heidi Miller, Chief Conversation Officer at Spoken Communication, highlights this importance in an infographic on Spoken’s website,
“A new customer costs 6-7x more to acquire than an existing one does to retain.”
Maintaining our existing customers base is just as important as building new ones when we are trying to grow our brand.
Branding is everything in business, and one of the best ways to build brand recognition is to recognize those that matter the most — the customers. Engage with them! Take the time to listen to their ideas and opinions and begin thinking about what can be done to connect with them on more emotional and meaningful levels. Become something they want, not something they simply need.
Do you have your own consumer engagement strategies or stories? We want to hear them! Share them with us @EidsonPartners!