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My husband and I recently went on a cruise for our 10-year anniversary. I was looking forward to a week of pampering and eating delicious foods of all kinds. We had explored the ship’s shops and activities, as well as mapped out our excursions on the cruise line’s website, so we were ready to go! Unfortunately, between the 5-hour boarding delay, the lackluster food that often ran out, and the staff who seemed
annoyed to be talking to us, we now equate the cruise line’s brand with “cheap, uncaring jerks.” And my husband and I have told our story to everyone who will listen. Our unofficial tagline for the cruise line was “Paying to wait,” as that is what we spent much of our vacation doing. I understand that delays and other unforeseen things can happen. But how you respond to those problems makes all the difference to your customers. If we had been presented with any food or drink while we sat in a crowded tent waiting for our ship to arrive, I would likely be telling people about how the cruise line went to the extra effort to make sure we were comfortable during a long wait. We would have started out with a more positive perception of the cruise line and probably would have been more accepting of the other bumps along the way.
As we start a new year, I want to encourage all of our business friends to pay special attention to the “experience” part of your brand experience in the coming year. Yes, a strong brand identity, sticky messaging, and easy-to-use website tools are all very important to engaging potential customers with your brand. But what happens once they set foot in your store, talk to your staff, purchase your products/services, or need help after a sale? These are “make or break” opportunities to earn a loyal customer or an angry discontent. Which one do you want talking to their friends about your brand?
In an economy where more businesses are competing on price, make sure your company stands out by treating your customers like VIPs, because they are! And they will remember that when it is time to purchase again. A good example of how to show appreciation for customers came from one of our clients this past summer. Frazier Quarry hosted monthly BBQs during the spring and summer, providing a free hot lunch for all of the drivers who came through the quarry. They could stop and chat with Frazier Quarry’s sales team and owners or take their lunch to go in a Frazier Quarry insulated lunch bag. Word of the lunches got back to managers and owners, as Frazier Quarry received calls and emails of appreciation – which also opened up discussion on new construction jobs and requests for stone.
Make a resolution to provide the best service and most enjoyable experience you can for your customers and they’ll keep coming back. From a friendly “how can we help you?” and expert assistance to helpful follow-ups and customer rewards, don’t forget these simple, yet important ways to build brand loyalty.