Working with Your Customers, Not for Them

Authentic Appreciation Keeps Customers

brand-loyaltyBrand loyalty is a term bounced around in a lot of marketing rooms these days. Some companies provide services focused entirely on building the brand and brand loyalty of other businesses.

With a multitude of options for just about any product or service, consumers continue to veer away from loyalty to one company. They are weighing options and moving around to find brands that best fit their needs. A Deloitte study found that nearly 3 in 4 businesses work to gain and retain customers through different loyalty strategies. This means loyalty programs are a huge part of marketing. In fact, most franchise stores or service companies offer credit cards or points programs designed to encourage brand loyalty.

However, the assumption that customers will return to a specific brand without getting compensated is naïve in today’s marketplace. Companies must rethink how to align customer needs beyond the scope of general business transactions.

Bridging the Gap

According to a study by Kitwheel, 73% of consumers believe loyalty programs should show how committed brands and companies are to their customers. However, 66% of marketers believe loyalty programs are a way for customers to show loyalty to brands. There is a gap in perception between consumer and provider, and some customers feel undervalued because of it.

Customers want brands to be loyal to them, to give them the benefit of the doubt, and offer gratitude for their loyalty. Until they find a deeper connection, the customer will remain non-committal.

Emotional Connection to Customer

weloveourcustomersIn order for brands to increase loyalty, they must develop emotional relationships with prospective customers. The consumer should no longer be seen as a number, but as a human being with emotions and real lives.

People get married, they have children, they miss credit card payments, and they face hard times. Understanding these factors and tailoring brand marketing and customer loyalty to these needs, companies will build trust extended beyond a product or service.

Ease of Communication

With the rise of social media, especially Twitter, customers expect to have an open dialogue with the company. Some organizations do a great job utilizing these tools. Taco Bell, for example, uses one-liners and current pop culture references to communicate with their clients. They also famously encouraged a patron to get in touch with them after being harassed at a location. This type of open dialogue creates loyalty by appealing to customers with more than just the products or services they offer.

Customers relate more to a company that keeps an open dialogue. According to Kitwheel, 68% of consumers expect a response to tweets directed at a brand, and one-in-three expect a response within 24 hours. But again, only 55% of marketers believe they can respond to every social media opportunity. Bridging this disconnect and enhancing the ease of communication with customers will increase brand loyalty.

Effective solutions require meeting the client where they are. If done correctly, companies can develop a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Loyalty programs that show appreciation and gratitude can develop meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers.

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