On the 14th of June, the 21st FIFA World Cup will begin; one month, 32 national teams, 64 matches, 12 venues in 11 cities, you’ll either be enthralled or counting down the days until football fever has passed. Even those who have little interest in their own local teams, who wouldn’t call themselves football fans, find the scale of the competition and the pomp and ceremony of the World Cup irresistible.
There’s an important lesson here for any brand too, and that is, how to create an experience that results in long-term fans and why that’s vital to any business.
Ask yourself why people become fans of something. Because they enjoy it, it entertains or delights them. It doesn’t matter if the experience is something they haven’t chosen to do but undertaken out of necessity, such as online banking, a clever brand or business can turn even the most mundane task into something sublime.
Which is important because customer retention can be a brand’s biggest revenue driver; just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75% and according to the Pareto principle, 80% of the business’ revenue will come from 20% of its existing customers. It becomes clear that it isn’t enough to provide a service or sell a product, to be successful, a brand must create fans.
Creating fans isn’t as simple as it sounds. A great product or service will engender customer satisfaction but not loyalty. It runs the risk of being viewed as perfunctory and the same customers will be easily swayed by another great product or service from your competitors.
The difference is creating a memorable experience, something that makes the customer feel like an individual and not just a number. It’s one of the reasons why we launched Vpod Dialog, a video banking solution which enables financial service companies to deliver a real-time, 24/7 service, in the way that suits the customer.
This allows for an interactive experience where an advisor can deliver a personal banking service that isn’t fixed by traditional opening hours or geographical location.
This is relationship-building; team-bonding if you will.
“There’s an important lesson here for any brand too, and that is, how to create an experience that results in long-term fans and why that’s vital to any business”
This will take a hands-on approach, rolled-up sleeves and a thorough review of your database. Look at who your customers are and how they have responded to your marketing, your service or product, your aftercare or support service; what are their buying patterns or usage patterns? What communication has there been with them? Has there been any follow-up? Have they mentioned the product or service on social media? The more you know about each consumer or client, the more you can understand their needs and meet them. More than that, you can understand what delights them.
Your strategy of communication should then be based on what you know. This could include incentivising further purchases or service offerings or even just a simple ‘thank you for your custom’ note; the data you have analysed on each customer should show which approach will be most appealing. It is also important to reward the most profitable customers to increase their loyalty. The most important element here is personalisation - both in the manner you communicate and the incentivisation you offer.
It’s something we’ve seen first-hand with our retail clients using Vpod Portal. Each customer journey is tracked, and up-sell recommendations given based on an individual’s preferences. As any good manager will tell you, it can take years to build that kind of knowledge; with Vpod Portal, it’s at your fingertips.
Obviously, it is vital that the service or product is great in the first place. No amount of ‘getting to know the customer’ or thoughtful gestures will build a relationship if the fundamental experience they have had with the business is poor. The customer expects a consistent, straightforward and convenient experience. And if things do go wrong, they expect that in putting it right, the company continues to behave in a consistent, straightforward and convenient way.
A business that gives an accurate portrayal of its products and services is on to a winner. Customer trust is gained by not over-promising or indulging in hyperbole. By aligning expectations with what can reasonably be achieved, customers are also likely to be more forgiving if things do go wrong. Just not when it comes to penalty shoot-outs, mind.
In football terms, the fans’ support for the team can feel like an extra player. In business, this boost comes from integrity. Football fans can spot a player whose heart isn’t in it and customers can spot a business or brand that doesn’t care.
Carry out your due diligence, contact customers with products and services that actually benefit them, new technology or system updates that they actually use and will make life more efficient for them. Take the time to care and the fans will be singing your praises.
Get people talking about the brand. Better still, build a community around it. The truth is a ‘brand’ is just a way of creating a sense of belonging. People always look for other people to identify with and a ‘brand’ makes it easy - especially by presenting groups that people want to identify with. So give the people who have connected with your brand a platform to be more vocal about the product or service. They will attract others to connect with your brand and help build a community that will give your product or service an aspirational quality. As more people join the community, the early adopters will become fans.
An important thing to note though, is that the community can’t be told what to think or feel; its identity has to be self-generated. The fans will invent their own chants whether the players like them or not.
Foster the customer relationship by unexpectedly rewarding milestones or by showing appreciation for positive comments made on social media for example. Giving customers an elevated status is a simple yet effective way to say thank you; loyalty points, an exclusive offer or moving a customer up to a higher membership status is a great way to gain fans. It is likely to be reciprocated by the customer announcing their delight on social media… gaining the business more fans.
As with databases, email marketing campaigns also need regular checking.
Tailor the content to your known audience and constantly test the response.
What type of subject lines are opened most, what elements are read most often and for longest? Offers, news and blogs should be driven by what your community is highlighting, not what you want to talk about as a business. If you want to increase your customer engagement, give the fans what they want.
“As more people join the community, the early adopters will become fans”
The difference between a customer and a fan is loyalty, and a brand or business has to earn it. Provide an outstanding product or service, one that is unwavering even when things go wrong. Take the time to know and understand the customer and tailor your communications and your service to them. Help them to feel part of something bigger and reward their interest, moreover don’t ever forget to say thank you. Unlike football that enjoys unwavering loyalty from its fans (most of the time), customers can easily lose interest or be tempted by another brand or service so in everything your business does, make the customers’ delight your goal. If you would like to know more about creating better connections with your customers and future fans, get in touch with Vpod Solutions today by emailing email@example.com or giving us a call on +44 (0)20 7621 6300. This team is ready.