Many of us have a favorite brand, band, team, public figure, or cause that we follow and become a fan of because they represent a quality, value, or style that we resonate with. In most cases, the reasons why we became a customer isn’t only about the brand or what it represents, it’s also about how we interact with the people behind the brand.
In previous blogs, we have discussed the importance of customer loyalty and retention for business success and how customers can even take an active part in marketing – known as “customer marketing”. The foundation for customer loyalty is service excellence. If a company stays true to its brand and the value it represents and knows how to keep its story alive with a combination of service, surprise, and delight, loyal customers become lifelong fans.
From Loyalty to Fandom
Fandom takes customer loyalty to a whole new level. The level of fandom we often see achieved in sports and entertainment can be created in our own unique ways. If we can continue to capture the imagination of consumers and appeal to their emotions, we have created a “brandscape” – a story in which the consumer is the hero.
“Make the customer the hero of your story” – Ann Handley
By putting the customer at the heart of your brand’s story and goal, you ensure that your brand remains in their heart as well.
Let’s go over some of the ways that we can create and maintain fandom with customer service.
- Create an Outstanding Experience – Successful businesses large and small, and across all industries, know that providing an outstanding service experience is what sets them apart. It is this experience that keeps customers coming back for more and remaining loyal to them.
- Listen to Customer Feedback – Let customers be part of refining and transforming your product or service and pay close attention to their ever-changing needs. In the words of Apple founder Steve Jobs: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
- Encourage Fan Engagement – Whether through social media photo contests, co-marketing opportunities, case studies, or letting them have a say in the design of your branded products, encourage your fans to take an active part in the evolution of your company.
- Give Back – Giving back to customers is so important for so many reasons. It not only maintains their loyalty, but it also makes them feel that they are part of something special. Great fans should be given VIP status, with customized gifts that reward their loyalty. Other ways of acknowledging them could include letting them be the first to know about a new product release, giving them exclusive access to events, or providing special perks or discounts.
- Continue to Surprise and Delight – Providing an element of surprise and delight in the customer experience is another reason why big brands continue to succeed and grow. If service or product offerings stagnate, become too predictable, or there just isn’t enough energy in their experience, consumers will begin to look elsewhere. Sustaining a feeling of suspense and that “there’s more to come” keeps your fan base curious, excited and engaged.
“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” – Walt Disney
- Include Customers in Your Philanthropy – If your brand supports a humanitarian cause or runs a subsidiary charity, including your fans in this is a great way to make them feel even better about your brand. They will see you as an organization that isn’t only out to make a profit but makes a positive difference in the community as well.
If you haven’t made converting your customers into fans a priority, it’s time to re-strategize. All the marketing and advertising in the world doesn’t compare to having a loyal fandom.