The Care Effect: Building Brand Loyalty
Outselling your competitors is no longer the name of the game. The new big win goes to the brand that outcares!
A recent study has shown a landslide 90% of consumers believe that the internet allows them to make better purchasing decisions…The reason why?
Because the internet makes it easier for consumers to compare all brands to the very best brands. The same study found that 87% of consumers measure ALL brands against just a handful of top brands, such as Amazon, Apple, or Starbucks.
Today’s consumer can decide never to set foot in your restaurant again, because their waiter was not on par with the service level of an Amazon customer service agent when they asked that something get sent back to the kitchen.
Brands aren’t just being held up against their direct competitors anymore, they are being compared to the very best brands in the world.
What is it about these apparent “model brands”, that transcend their influence beyond the realm of their particular industry? What are these top brands the very best at?
The answer is: Showing they really care about their customers.
Today’s leading, rocket fuel-powered names in branding don’t seek to outsell, they seek to outcare. Today we are going to take a more in-depth peek into the reasons why this handful of rockstar brands are upholding the standard for all other brands in user experience. We are going to discuss how using The CARE Effect can help your brand Come out of Nowhere, straight into a select circle of brands that are an Inspiration to Millions.
You can remember The CARE Effect as C.A.R. E.
Connection, Active Listening, Responsibility, and Enthusiasm.
The last time I travelled across the country, I landed 4 hours ahead of my time zone.
Even though I have an early morning, and it’s already 2am, I find myself unable to sleep. I remember a few purchases I need shipped, so I pop on to Amazon. I am an Amazon Prime account member. I love it. Two-day free shipping, free and easy returns, streaming movies and music, free delivery from most restaurants, and a wide array of unfiltered reviews for most products…I enjoy my Amazon Prime account almost daily. I am an Amazon Prime Brand Loyalist.
So I’m laying in bed wide awake at 2am, laptop open, and looking for my items. I find each of them almost immediately, and after checking the reviews, I confidently place my order.
OOPS! I accidentally sent them to my previous location. I have to change the shipping address. The number I need to call is already right there on my invoice. Within the next two minutes, I’m on the phone with a live and lovely person, who is wide awake, and well on the way to solving my issue. Making returns on Amazon is so easy, I order clothes I’m not even sure I like, just to try them on. Thanks to Amazon, I’ve all but forgotten the days of lengthy and deterring return processes, expensive shipping costs, and deciding it’s probably easier to just go to the store.
All but forgotten, that is, until I encounter bad customer service somewhere else that reminds me how much more difficult making purchases used to be.
(And makes me wish I’d just used Amazon!)
Do you want an Amazon Prime account now? I wouldn’t be surprised, since word of mouth advertising is 50x more effective than any other kind.
Yesterday’s satisfactory customer experience is today’s terrible customer service.
Today’s consumers want brands that make their lives easier. Not just from using the product, but from the entire experience provided by your brand.
Expectations are now expected to be exceeded.
Your ideal individuals are out there, and they want you to let them know you want them, you hear them, and you understand them; not just today, but yesterday too… and also tomorrow. The gauntlet has been thrown down!
The time to put The CARE Effect into action for your brand is now, so let’s jump right in!
The first step in The CARE Effect is Connection.
Making connections that build a brand community today, is about showing that your brand has a deep understanding for what your community prefers and prioritizes.
I always tell my clients, “If it ain’t got heart, go back to the start.”
You cannot be your ideal customer, because your ideal customer needs you to help them reach the next level. – This means it’s going to take some patience and some reflection to understand what makes your ideal customer’s heart sing. What do they love to do with their free time? What are their priorities? What do they dream of becoming in the future? How can your brand help them get there? What is their secret wish pressing on their hearts and minds, the one they whisper to themselves but no one else?
For your brand to connect with today’s consumers, in today’s market, your brand must demonstrate not only an understanding, but a compassion for who the customer is today, as well as who they want to become tomorrow.
Some simple guidelines for connecting with your ideal brand community include never talking down to them, or making your community feel wrong for not already being who or where they want to be. This is a rookie mistake made by many brands.
Attempting to create a need, by shining a harsh light on where your ideal consumer is lacking your products or services, is not making a connection.
After an interaction, people don’t typically remember exactly what was said; they remember how the interaction made them feel.
Ask yourself what emotion you want your brand to inspire within your ideal brand community. Ask yourself what emotion are they buying from you? Choose an emotion that stirs the souls, stokes the flames, and is bursting with possibility for a greater future.
Name the emotion your ideal individual needs from your brand, and then refine your brand’s voice around inspiring that emotion, rather than just selling them your great product or service.
Connecting with your ideal individual is about meeting them at their level, letting them know they aren’t alone, and then showing them that the path towards a greater future already lies at their feet. The power is already within them.
Making the purchase, then becomes the first step, and brand loyalty becomes the journey.
Connection is about developing your brand’s voice, but once you learn how to talk to your ideal individual, the next and most imperative step is to stop talking, and start listening.
The next step in The CARE Effect is Active Listening.
You are going to want to pay attention to what I’m about to tell you.
Are you ready? I really want you to really hear this, because I want you to succeed: No matter what your business may be, all of your income is going to come from listening. Yes, I mean ALL of it. No, there are no exceptions.
The first step is connection because you have to open the forum of conversation, but once that forum opens, your ideal individual always has the floor. Yes. I mean ALWAYS. No, there are exceptions. This is a nuance many new businesses miss, but every Fortune 100 company knows all too well. There isn’t a single name on the Fortune 100 list that doesn’t understand the return value of pouring tremendous amounts of resources into Active Listening.
When Starbucks was recently faced with a public relations crisis, they lept straight in to Active Listening mode. A bad judgment call was made by a Starbucks manager that escalated to the arrest of two African American men who weren’t causing any disturbances, but were simply waiting for their friend to arrive before they made any purchases. The incident was posted onto social media, and #boycottStarbucks was trending within the hour.
Did Starbucks start defending themselves, and blaming the one manager for making a bad call? No, they opened the forum wide for their brand community and got down to listening. The CEO released a statement expressing a desire to meet personally with the two gentlemen who had been arrested, so he could hear them out personally. The Vice President flew out to Philadelphia where the incident had occurred to hear out the community that was most deeply affected. Starbucks went in to Emergency Active Listening mode, and #boycottstarbucks disappeared almost as quickly as it popped up.
This is the power of Active Listening. When your brand community feels heard, they will stand by your brand even when a storm rolls through town.
Active Listening requires the listener to fully concentrate with the whole-hearted intention of fully understanding what is being said, and why it’s being said.
If it ain’t got heart, go back to the start. Listen again and again and again, until you find the heart. Respond to the heart, and then listen some more.
All of your income will be from Listening.
Many people listen only enough to form whatever thought they want to say next. The way to respond to your ideal individual isn’t with words; it’s with actions that demonstrate your brand hears their deepest hopes, darkest fears, and even their wildest dreams…Especially their wildest dreams.
When your brand community feels heard, they feel understood, they feel safe, they feel at home with your brand. Home is where a person returns. Home is Brand Loyalty, and Brand Loyalty is your business plan.
Next, we have Responsibility.
The decision to buy is always emotional. The decision to buy is made with the heart.
When today’s customers make the choice to join your brand community by purchasing your product or service, they are extending a heartfelt invitation to your brand, and welcoming it into their home. You wouldn’t accept an invitation to someone’s home, and figure “Well I got my foot in the door, so I’m good. Time to jump on their couch and kick their dog.” No, because that’s crazy…but also as a brand you want to be invited back into their home again and again and again.
When a new customer makes a purchase, you have an automatic responsibility to honor the faith they’ve placed in your brand.
A great brand is a promise kept.
At the Responsibility stage in the relationship, you’ve connected with them on an emotional level enough that they’ve felt confident to place their trust and their money into your brand. You’ve listened enough to know what the promise is that your customers are expecting your brand to keep. Now it’s your responsibility to uphold that promise every single day.
Because the decision to join your brand community was made with the heart, so must the work put in to keep their loyalty, be a labor of love. Your brand should take responsibility for helping your customers grow. The moment a person becomes a customer, it isn’t about you anymore. It’s about them. It’s always about them. And if it ain’t got heart, go back to the start.
Finally in The CARE Effect we have Enthusiasm.
The purchase is the beginning of a journey toward a greater future.
The members of your brand community are now armed with your product or service to get them on their way, but they still must do the footwork to bring the greater future into being for themselves. Go with them. Cheer them along. Let your brand community know you believe in them. Share stories of the successes of those who came before them, share the common challenges of those who walk beside them.
Let them know they are not alone, and be excited for their progress even before they can see it for themselves. If it ain’t got heart, go back to the start.
Think of Samwise from Lord of the Rings. The situation wasn’t always going so hot for Frodo. Frodo wasn’t always exactly at his best. He fumbled, and stumbled, two steps forward and three steps back, all the way to Mordor. And yet, Samwise was there alongside him every step of the way, never doubting Frodo’s ability to fulfill his destiny. Samwise believed in Frodo when Frodo didn’t believe in himself. At the end Frodo knew, he’d have never made it without Samwise by his side.
Today’s consumers want to be inspired. They are dog tired of negative news and at their wit’s end with the compare and despair of social media. Enthusiastically embrace your brand community for who they are, and where they are today, because you have faith in who they can and will become tomorrow.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “ Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”
Expect great things from your brand community, and show your faith in them through unwavering enthusiasm. If ever on their journey, your brand loyalists should stumble along the path of achieving the greater future promised, your brand’s enthusiasm will be there to catch them.
The CARE Effect is:
A- Active Listening
The CARE Effect is for the customers you have already acquired, and it’s about supporting them throughout their journey to becoming Brand Loyalists.
No matter what your business may be, Brand Loyalty is your business plan!
Let’s assume if your ideal individuals have already bought from you, then they’ve already decided they feel a Connection to your brand, and move directly into action by focusing first on Active Listening. (Where ALL your income will come from!)
Identify some areas where you could implement Active Listening with your brand community today. Even if you don’t have the experience of a Fortune 100 company, the rocketfuel for gaining experience, is in listening.
There is gold in listening.
Active Listening requires the listener to fully concentrate with the whole-hearted intention of fully understanding what is being said, and why it’s being said. Every time you hear an opinion from your ideal individuals you only have half of the equation. You must ask why. Their Why will reveal how you can create the brand messaging they most need to hear in order to grow with you. In order to become a brand loyalist.
Here’s an example. — If someone tells you their favorite moment is when they use your product, like say it’s a microphone, and their favorite moment is when they use it on stage and hear the crowd roar, screaming their name.
You only know half of their favorite moment. Not enough to make more products that accomplish this moment for them, and increase your income streams. Not enough to get a message to millions of people like them. If you ask them “why?”, they might say because my teacher said I’d amount to nothing. Or they might say because as a person with impaired hearing I can only decipher the guitar from the crowd with your superior quality, and I can’t play without it. Or they might say because when I hear the crowd roar, I know my father is smiling on me from heaven. Or because I know I’m about to spray the crowd with water, and the mic is going to perform even when doused.
Your messaging will dramatically change if one of these responses is the most common one of your ideal individuals. Vastly vary. This is how active listening creates more income streams.
When you seek to outcare, rather than outsell, the results will always be a win/win for you and your customers.
Thank you so much for joining me today!
Remember, The CARE Effect can only be implemented with heart. Take on the responsibility to enthusiastically CARE about your ideal individuals, and get them to the greater future they are buying from you.
Maintaining Brand Loyalty is a labor of love, so always remember to Love What You Do and Love How You Do It.