Sadly, businesses lose customers who are brand advocates daily. Often, this stems more from neglect than from anything you do. There are important principles for maintaining the trust of your most enthusiastic customers and keeping the momentum going.
Keep treating the relationship with respect. Customer advocates expect continued excellence in services and products. When something goes wrong, they expect you to make it a priority and fix it. And they expect you can do this without them needing to make a big effort.
Continue to express appreciation. A colleague of mine works with Independence Blue Cross, and often stays at the Sonesta hotel in Philadelphia, near their main offices. I remember her commenting that she was traveling and working over a birthday. She later recounted this story: “I arrived at my hotel room the evening of my birthday. There were banners on the TV and over my bed. The employees had all signed a card for me, and there was a birthday cake for me to enjoy. Imagine my surprise and delight!”
Ensure you remain accessible. Open up a range of channels so that customers can engage in ways that they choose. Brand promoters like to stay connected, so it’s important to maintain a thoughtful presence through social media. Take steps to promote hashtags and facilitate connections. I know of a college student who posted a picture on Instagram in her new Vineyard Vines sweatshirt. “Love it—just in time for spring,” she commented and included their hashtag. The company immediately “liked” her post—simple but loyalty-building.
Continue to actively listen. Customer advocates like to know that their ideas and experiences are important to you. So, check in with them. Get to know their needs and ask them what else they would like. 4th Street Boutique in Rochester, Michigan is an example of a small company that engages with promoters in fun ways. The owner encourages customers to model clothes; she publishes photos of real customers on Instagram. Followers know what’s new, and can dialog on styles and trends. Many posts have a “save it in my size” comment. They feel like they are recognized and part of the fun.
Show your support. Recognize the things your brand promoters are doing. Congratulate them on their accomplishments, awards, accolades. A LinkedIn post from a brand to congratulate someone for a promotion is deeply appreciated, and it shows you care. E-commerce and retail company L.L. Bean featured a story about Tyler Armstrong, a teenager with the goal to climb the world’s Seven Summits. As he works towards his goal, he’s raising money for muscular dystrophy research. It’s a great story and a perfect complement to L.L. Bean’s reputation for quality gear and great service.
Be present. While I don’t gravitate to Woody Allen for advice, I believe he got it right when he said 80 percent of success is just showing up. The Boston Marathon is sponsored by large, iconic brands such as Adidas, but also by smaller, local organizations such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Even the smallest businesses can support advocates by sponsoring community events, promoting concerts, or hosting a table at a business fair. Your brand advocates trust you. They want that trust to continue. Keep your end of the bargain and you’ll be powerfully furthering customer experience.
Excerpt from Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results by Brad Cleveland.