adjective | loy·al | ˈlȯi(-ə)l: Unswerving in allegiance
People aren’t loyal to companies. They’re loyal to values, relationships, and experiences. While someone may say they’re 100% loyal to a certain brand of coffee, for instance, it is more likely that they absolutely prefer the taste of that brand compared to other brands at the store. However, if they are truly loyal to the brand and the company, then there is probably something more to that story.
Perhaps they love what the company stands for, and choose to be loyal to them because their values align.
Maybe they’ve had a great interaction with a customer-facing employee, who left them with an ultra-positive view of the business.
Or, as is the case with a “customer-obsessed” company like Zappos, maybe they were gifted with an above-and-beyond, “WOW,” tell-all-your-friends experience.
In this day and age, there’s no question that the elusive and complicated Word Of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) is one of the most effective methods for reaching potential customers. However, it’s also the one we have the least control over. Along with the 4 P’s (Price, Product, Promotion, and Place), we need to be focusing on the 3 E’s: Engage, Equip, and Empower.
We need to engage with our customers — listen to what they have to say, and be a part of the conversation surrounding our brand.
We have to equip them to talk about us in the first place, through our amazing products, customer service, and what we share through our public voice.
Finally, we must empower everyone to join the conversation, by providing different ways to talk and share.
WOMM is complicated to master and difficult to control because the power lies with the customer. Even if we engage, equip, and empower our audience, it’s up to them to decide if they want to share that information with others. Considering that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, companies can’t afford to give their customers anything less than an outstanding experience.
Amazing products and sensational customer service leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to positive Word of Mouth Marketing.
Knowing this, doesn’t it follow that “Equip” should be our focus?
Engagement and empowerment are important, but no one is going to spread “WOW” stories about a company with mediocre products and inferior service. Building loyalty comes back to building a solid relationship with each and every customer, one experience at a time. While not every situation will require something over-the-top (one Zappos employee bought a plane ticket to hand-deliver some valuable goods), ensuring that every interaction is incredible will create a foundation that keeps customers coming back.
Loyal patrons are consistent, faithful, and spread the word about who you are and what you stand for. That’s a relationship worth investing in.