Counterbalance technological advancements with human interaction
Isn't technology great? In one short decade, the internet and digital revolution have fundamentally transformed the way companies do business. Technology is moving things along incredibly fast, and streamlining workflows that are saving brands time and money. The benefits companies gain from new technological improvements and innovations is addictive. This has created an environment where the consumer feels like they are second in line after the technological process. Every action the consumer makes from calling a company to engaging on social media puts them through a digital process that is meant to streamline things. While beneficial to the brand, these processes have become off-putting to the average person, and push them further away from being a loyalist. Brands need to have a healthy counterbalance between technological advancements and actual human interaction. For every dollar and minute you save by enacting something new, there should be an equal and opposite human element that is extended to your customers.
Chris Malone, co-author of "The Human Brand," speaks to iMedia about the consumer mindset and how years of evolution have programmed us to respond to warmth -- not the cold processes most brands are relying on for engagement.
Introspect on how your policies and practices are coming across to consumers
Most brands are good about defining their core values and enacting policies and procedures that reflect them. However, what's less thought about is how those practices are actually viewed by the public. The world is more transparent than ever, and if you think that the way your company operates is a secret, you're fooling yourself. The practices you enact will affect the way consumers view your brand and its values. Everything from customer services availability to return polices paint a picture, little by little, about how you value consumers. Brands need to step back into the shoes of customers to really get an idea of how they are rubbing off on the average Joe. Brands can't take a "who cares?" attitude anymore about how they're perceived. The competition is just too great, and gaining loyalists is the only way big brands will survive.
Chris Malone continues our conversation by explaining how the balance of priorities has shifted in recent years and how this has created an environment where consumers feel like they are coming in second place to shareholders.
Focus on building lasting consumer relationships
Lastly, brands need to understand that creating loyal customers, not short-term profits, is the goal. Yes, money is important, but not at the expense of alienating the public to the point where it's easy for them to bypass your products the next time they are making a purchase. Airlines are a good example of an industry that has a big problem in this area. The tiny fees, penalties, and nickel-and-dime practices used by several carriers have created major consumer bitterness. Meanwhile, airlines like Virgin and JetBlue that have invested in building long-term customer loyalty are booming. Customers only become repeat customers if they like you, and they will only gain affection if you show it first. Be proactive about enacting standard tactics that provide value, warmth, and empathy to your base.
Chris Malone ends our conversation by speaking about how companies can ultimately save time and money by first focusing on building lasting customer loyalty, rather than short-term profits for shareholders.
Learn more about Chris Malone's book "The Human Brand."
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Article written by David Zaleski, and videos edited by associate media producer Brian Waters.
"loyalty level conceptual meter indicate hundred per cent, isolated on white background" image via Shutterstock.
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