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Editor's Note: This post was originally created by Spredfast before Spredfast and Lithium merged and became Khoros.
At our New York event in April, a panel discussion dove deep into building and maintaining customer loyalty with social media. Our own SVP of Customer Success, Dianne Borges, led the session titled, “Follow Me Back: How to Drive Lasting Customer Loyalty Through Social.” Francine Feder, VP of Marketing Communications at Foot Locker, and Carolin Probst-Iyer of General Motors joined Borges on stage and explained, in three steps, how brands can authentically build customer brand love, which can translate to brand loyalty. The good news is that inspiring customer loyalty isn’t magic; it just takes dedication and preparation on the part of your brand.
Inspiring customer loyalty isn’t magic; it just takes dedication and preparation on the part of your brand.
Below, we’ll detail these three layers of customer loyalty with details straight from the Smart Social NYC session.
As is true in any relationship, to inspire lasting love in others you must first understand yourself and shore up weak spots (we’ll call that bonus love advice—you’re welcome). Probst-Iyer explained the metaphor further: the first layer of creating customer loyalty through social is having your own house in order. As for how to do so? Start by building strong connections between your marketing teams, your customer service teams, your tech support teams, and any other involved parties so that you can avoid duplication, discrepancies, and other internally focused issues as you build your social media activations. Hint: the right social media management software can help you easily communicate from one place across teams. See how GM did just that with Khoros (formerly Spredfast).
Once the lines of communication are open, make sure each team is aligned behind the same strategy and means of execution. And finally: keep your customer at the center of every marketing consideration in order to ensure each campaign will truly add value to your customer—thereby inspiring loyalty.
As you think about your next social campaign, plan to put in the legwork of building good company-wide communication ahead of time—and then watch the next two steps to building customer loyalty fall into place.
Once you have your house in order, you can begin to look outward. The second layer in inspiring customer loyalty through social is to truly understand your customer. Understanding your customer involves knowing their habits with your product or service as well as why your customer relies on and trusts what your brand has to offer. When you do, you can be sure every piece of content and each new product or service is offered for the benefit of your customer and not any other outside considerations. During the session, our own Dianne Borges shared a story about customer outrage following a brand’s introduction of an “overly innovative” product. Rather than innovating for the sake of it, offer updates and changes that are instead intended to benefit your customer. Social data can help your brand in these efforts. (Again, hint: This is where Khoros (formerly Spredfast) social media listening software can save the day.) With social data, you can deeply understand how your customers interact with your product so that you’re always adding value.
Rather than innovating for the sake of it, offer updates and changes that are instead intended to benefit your customer.
The final layer of fostering customer loyalty through social is an intimate understanding of how your customer wants to be approached. As Probst-Iyer explained, on social, consumers are in charge of both how and where they communicate with brands, and brands that take that to heart can create positive customer interactions. The unpleasant truth is that consumers often take to social to vent and express their concerns to brands—positive brand interactions initiated by consumers are comparatively few and far between.
But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing: in fact, brands that are able to adopt a thick skin and demonstrate their understanding, ability to listen, and problem-solving capabilities can add value to their customers by engaging in a purposeful and genuine way. By doing so, these brands will develop real relationships with their customers that will lead to loyalty. Even if you failed your customer in some way, and even if you aren’t able to offer them their desired outcome, often just demonstrating that you care can make a big difference in your customer’s loyalty, said Probst-Iyer.
And another point to remember, across the board, as you dive into the world of customer loyalty? Francine Feder offered an important final note about brand communications on social media: “just experiment. You just have to try. You can’t be afraid to fail in this space at all.”