Building customer loyalty

Mailchimp's chief customer officer shares ways to get closer to customers

More than any company I've found, Mailchimp works to create better listening opportunities with their customers. It's not enough to pay attention when customers speak up. We have to prompt customers to share. At Mailchimp they try to make it fun and productive. 

Fast Company: MailChimp’s cofounder shares the best ways to get to know your customers, 2018-Sep-23 by Dan Kurzius

Visit your customers where they live or work... 

Invite customers into your office... 

Be your customer for a day... 

Early on, we decided that our motto was going to be, “Listen hard, change fast.” For us, this meant constantly looking for improvement and innovating quickly, and letting the customer dictate our focus as a company. 

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Best practice... Get out... the newsletter

If you work in a big company and your job is getting the newsletter out, you have challenges, but the newsletter gets out there. For people like myself, independent or in small organizations, regular release of the newsletter is hard. 

Getting a newsletter out is a matter of "showing up." You wouldn't miss an appointment with a client, would you? Never blow off the newsletter because is going to be late. If you miss an issue due to catastrophe, share that story with your readers. Act like it makes a difference, and it will. 

I highly recommend Ann Handley's newsletter to all communications professional. She's inspiring. Learn more.  

Total Annarchy: Email is the OG,... 2018-Sep-23 by Ann Handley

I talk a lot about the need to put your reader first. To serve an audience. To make something that you love in service to those who will miss you if you don't show up on time.

This isn’t an original idea: Lorne Michaels used to say that Saturday Night Live didn’t go on because the cast was ready; it went on because it was 11:30 on a Saturday night.

You show up because you promised others you would.... 

Years ago, I heard Darren Rowse of Problogger speak in Denver. He told the audience, “Your next big thing might be the little thing that’s staring you right in the face right now.”

Of course, for that little thing to grow into a big thing, you’ve got to make a promise to yourself to do it.

So many people I’ve met this fall have shared their big goals with me. They want to write a book. Or they want to be invited to speak more. Or they want to make an impact in one important way or another. But I don’t know where to start. Or how do I fit it in?

The truth is that it’s hard. But it’s not magic.

You have to show up. And then you have to start. Then keep going. One foot. Next foot.

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Better customer relationships require contextual analysis

Every time a supplier misinterprets our customer behavior, we get a little more frustrated. Most CRM systems don't even have the ability to track the context of a purchase. So the salespeople and customer service representatives have to take the initiative, find out what's going on, and record it. The companies that figure out how to train their people and update their systems to track this, they will be the loyalty winners. 

Edge Perspectives: Navigating From the Industrial Age to the Contextual Age, 2018-Aug-15 by John Hagel

The forces shaping the Big Shift are progressively undermining standardization and efficiency (as conventionally defined) as drivers of value creation. As consumers, we’re gaining more and more power and we’re less and less willing to settle for standardized products and services – we want offerings that are tailored to our unique and evolving needs. On the supply side, digital technology is making it easier and far more affordable to produce highly personalized products and services. That’s leading to more and more fragmentation in product and services businesses, something that I’ve explored here.

As these forces play out, context is becoming more and more central to value creation. If we don’t pay attention to the circumstances surrounding a person or an event, we’re unlikely to understand how to create the greatest personalized value. Those who are most insightful and adept at understanding context, will be those who create the most value, both for customers and for themselves.

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Simplicity drives loyalty for Google, Netflix, Amazon, Chipotle...

Recently recognized for their ability to delight customers with simplicity of use, Google, Netflix, IStock_000022889089XSmallAmazon and Chipotle made it to the top five of the "simple brands" identified by customer experience strategy consultant Siegel+Gage. 

 

Among the up-and-coming "simple brands," Dollar Shave Club says "Dollar Shave Club couldn't be simpler. Select one of our great blades, pay only for the cost of your blades, and we send ’em right to your door every month." At Seamless, they say "we make ordering food for delivery and takeout seamless!"

Harvard Business Review: Why Simple Brands Win, 2015-Nov-9 by Margaret Molloy

Customer experience is the new battleground for loyalty. Years of findings in the Global Brand Simplicity Index demonstrate that when brands build cultures of simplicity, all parties benefit. Employees have the clarity to innovate and deliver superior customer service, consumers have better brand experiences, and ultimately reward brands with their loyalty.

Growth is welcome and inevitable for any successful company—but complexity is an unavoidable side-effect of growth. Companies must be on the lookout to simplify processes and create fresh and clear brand experiences. A commitment to simplicity starts at the top. Senior management must be committed to implementing practices that encourage simplicity. Brand purpose—what a brand does and why it does it—should be articulated in a way that is easy for employees to internalize, and customers must view a brand and its services in a manner consistent with this purpose. While it is necessary to look inward to refine and simplify, ultimately the customer’s perspective matters most.


MW Cleaners shows how to reward customers for natural loyalty

Most companies want you to do something unnatural to be rewarded. Like "buy again with 15 days" or "spend $100 on your next visit." At MW Cleaners (owned by The Men's Wearhouse), IStock_000022989689XSmallPresident Mike Nesbit came up with a great reward, but then took it one step further. They identified the customers who'd ALREADY earned the reward and gave it to them. 

National Clothesline: Mike Nesbit: What's Important, 2014-Aug

One way the chain is trying to improve customer service is by offering its clientele something that it can’t get anywhere else. About two years ago [2012], it started a rewards program. In it, customers who have had the same shirt cleaned 20 times with them are given a $50 credit at Men’s Wearhouse so they can buy a new shirt.

“It’s been a really big deal,” Mike said, estimating that MW Cleaners has handed out thousands of credits so far. “When we first started, we actually went back retroactively. Think about it, you start a program and if you start it from the beginning, it’s going to take your customers 20 times, which could take them two years or more to get something cleaned that many times. I wanted to do something with instant gratification.”


How Kroger earns world-class loyalty and we can, too.

When Kroger launched their state-of-the-art loyalty program in 2003, I was immediately won over. It helped that there was a Kroger store four blocks from my home (yes, I have an inner city lifestyle). At every touch, my loyalty grew stronger. Tq140417qdThe program seem to mold itself around my needs. Now they have one of the highest ranking loyalty programs in the world. 

What if we don't have millions of dollars to spend on a world-class loyalty program? We follow these guidelines from Bond Brand Loyalty:

Elements that ranked as the top functional drivers of satisfaction include:

  1. The appeal of rewards. (Kroger offers rebate checks, grocery discounts, fuel discounts, and more.)
  2. The ease with which rewards can be redeemed. (We choose our mechanism: credit card, loyalty card, mobile app.)
  3. The amount accumulated per $1 spent. (Savings are substantial.)
  4. Ability to reach rewards in a timely manner. (We can get something every visit, and monthly rewards pile up.)
  5. Number of ways benefits can be earned. (Co-operating with Shell, Liberty Mutual, and more.)

Elements that ranked as the top experience drivers include:

  1. The program is worth the effort of participating.
  2. The program meets my needs.
  3. The program is enjoyable.
  4. The program is simple. (Kroger's program is not simple overall, but our access to rewards is simple.)
  5. The program is easy to understand.

Learn more with Bond's '15 Loyalty Report


Sharing customer happiness with a photo booth

The rising popularity of Photo Booths is driven by a few different benefits. I enjoyed using one during a party at Story a few years ago, but now many retailers are using them on a daily basis. Let's break down the benefits so you can see if they apply to your business: IStock_000017373886XSmall

1) Better experience for your customer: If you sell clothing, gifts or souvenirs, people may enjoy sharing their purchase or purchase idea with friends. Of course, they could use their own camera BUT a booth may provide better lighting. Seeing the booth may remind them to share. 

2) Better exposure for your business: Photo booths can be configured to print your company logo and additional information that becomes advertising. 

3) Better interaction with your customers: Once they've shared an image publicly, you can support them with additional exposure, even reward them. 

4) Collect customer data: We can give our customers the option of paying a few bucks for the photo OR we can ask for their email address, etc. If we want to booth to be always free, we can invite them to order more prints by sharing contact information.

Photo booths now come in many types, including a station with an iPad and no booth at all. 

NY Times: Smile! Photo Booths Prove You're a Happy Customer, 2015-Oct-6 by Courtney Rubin

The photo booth, that fixture of one-off events like weddings and parties, is now taking up permanent residence at fashion and lifestyle brands, as companies like [Warby Parker,] Urban Decay and Topshop realize that some of the best advertising they can get are well-lighted branded photos of customers having a good time....

“People take better pictures of themselves than photographers, because you don’t have that same level of insecurity,” Mr. van S said. “It’s a very cost-effective way to do marketing, especially when this stuff is going out to social.”

The financial arrangements are complicated: Some booths are rentals; others are bought. Features and pricing vary widely....

For the health food company Juice Generation, which last month installed a booth in its financial district store in Manhattan, the photos are the basis for what the founder, Eric Helms, called “a kind of modern loyalty program.” Instead of offering cards that are stamped with each purchase, three Juice Generation employees who monitor the company’s social media invite people who post a lot of photos to come in on their birthdays with friends for free drinks and other surprises.