Things seem to move at an ever quicker clip these days. 24 hour new cycle. Blink and you miss it. I like to savor the day or the moment just a little more. Oh well! I wanted to share a little more of what I learned from the brilliant Dr. Bendapudi:
I shared in the previous post Dr. Bendapudi’s idea that your brand is your promise. Whether you provide products or services for the B2B or B2C market, it’s important to understand that for your consumer, your brand is functional (or rational) and emotional. When you capture the customer’s emotion, they are truly engaged with your brand. When people are attached to or moved by your brand, it’s when they’re likely to share information and stories about what you offer with others – word of mouth is still the holy grail of marketing, if I may say so….
Think of customer and client awareness of your brand as a kind of ‘shelf space’. It’s actually ‘mind space’ which is arguably the most valuable commodity. Bendapudi points out that your brand is brought to life by your people, or if you’re a solo-preneur, by you. The experience your customers and clients have with you and your company is the bottom line to determining how they feel about you. How they feel about you is more important than you might think. Experience trumps the marketing every time. It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you do. Just like in every other relationship we have.
In talking about loyalty, Dr. Bendapudi employs the acronym R.E.A.L. The letter R stands for Respond – are you doing a good job responding to customers concerns and problems? E is for empathy. Respond to customer and client concerns by listening with empathy and really hearing them. Don’t try and contradict or explain, just listen and use phrases like “I understand why you’d feel that way” or “I’m sorry you had that experience” – don’t jump in and offer explanations – and certainly never correct them or find them wrong. Finally, A is to remind you to advocate for customers and clients. Anticipate their needs and serve them.
Dr. Bendapudi used the example of taking her (then) 8 year old daughter’s soccer team to a restaurant after a game. They were cranky and hungry and she was exhausted. Her experience was not a good one. No one anticipated her needs by empathizing with her situation and getting her a table right away or even telling her how long the wait would be. She was disenchanted with the experience and never returned. What she would have preferred is what all of us would like: someone to simply say – WOW – I bet you’d like to get those girls seated and have some snacks and drinks right away – let me see what I can do.
Even if there had been a wait, she would have felt heard as a customer, hers need were anticipated, she was understood and the restaurant chain could have won her loyalty, instead of her disdain. Remember, it’s not about being right 100% of the time; it’s about taking care of what arises thoughtfully and quickly 100% of the time. We’ll allow a lot of latitude for mistakes IF they are handled well and easily resolved.