This month we welcome guest blogger Douglas Spencer of Spencer Brenneman on the topic of “Marrying your customers till death do you part.”
Jonnelle Marte of the Washington Post wrote this great piece called "A guide to breaking up with your bank," which I read in the Boston Globe.
Leaving a big bank is not easy. The stickiness factor that banks and many companies engineer to keep their customers is nothing new, nor is there anything inherently wrong with it. However, many companies only pay attention to that side of the coin. The other side is creating a strong brand that makes customers feel good about the stickiness, that makes them not want to leave in the first place.
Taking a cue from Marte's point by point guide to leaving your big bank, here is one for big banks or any company which doesn't want their customers to feel stuck. Let's call it, "A guide to marrying your customers till death do you part."
Know what they want.
Obviously, right? Not necessarily. Most companies understand what their customers want from a functional perspective but many would be hard pressed to articulate what they want from an emotional one. Do they want to feel safe? Cutting edge? Exclusive? Those are all different and quite powerful motivators that will help you keep customers.
Help them understand.
Whatever you do that could possibly annoy, frustrate or anger customers, proactively explain the why behind the issue. As humans we will create our own explanations to situations we don't understand, almost always incorrectly. Help them understand and feel good about why you do what you do.
Give them opportunities to share the love.
People love to feel good about the decisions they make and helping them show off to others how smart they are through referrals is a great way to do that. Plus, it helps you get new customers.
Tell their stories.
Once you understand what the bulk of your clients want emotionally, highlight those who genuinely feel it. Hearing the stories of others often helps us put our own into better perspective.
Make it about others too.
If your customers tend to be, say, environmentally conscious, make certain that your corporate responsibility strategy reflects that. The local, smaller brands with which you may be competing simply cannot have the same caliber of impact.
Thank them but do so genuinely.
This point too may seem obvious but it evidently is not because so many brands fail here. It's easy to tell the difference between a cable customer support person who reads "Thank you for your business" from even a personalized email that references the number of years your customer has been loyal. In this age of texts and posts, sometimes an actual printed thank you note can go a long, long way for some brands and customers (though not for all).
When thinking about "stickiness," remember the other conjugation of the word which is "stuck." Who wants that? No one and sooner or later most will not stand for it anymore.
Spencer Brenneman helps bring brands to life everywhere it matters. And it matters everywhere. From product design and company mission to web site content and employee communications, your brand has to have relevance, excitement and longevity.