Engagement, Loyalty and Sharing Superior Experience

There’s one element of loyalty I might add that should not be overlooked: the immediacy of sharing … good and bad. But for once, let’s look at the good side of experience sharing:

customer loyaltyNext month, hundreds of marketing professionals will gather in New York to fete numerous business leaders in our field at the EDGE Awards (June 6, this is Marketing EDGE’s only national fundraising event).

Among the honorees is Hal Brierley, who recently discussed how the loyalty business hinges on meaningful engagement. It really doesn’t matter what generation you are, if a brand is not engaging its stakeholders, there can be no loyalty, right? Says Hal, “In my mind, what the consumer wants is simplicity and immediacy of rewards.”

The rise of “Zombie Malls” also says something about loyalty. The future of retail may very well depend on who can best engage, who can deliver an experience, who can reward — and how will these tangibles and intangibles manifest.

But there’s one element of loyalty I might add that should not be overlooked: the immediacy of sharing … good and bad. But for once, let’s look at the good side of experience sharing:

I was in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store last week, midday, and on the main floor — and I thought I was in a museum. Quiet. Attentive salespersons aplenty. But hardly a shopper in sight, back among the high-end jewelry counters where I entered the building. When the elevator door opened on the shoe department, eighth floor, it was the exact opposite — a beehive of shoppers everywhere, and it seemed to be multi-generational. (Sak’s calls its shoe department, “Shoes 10022” and I’d say it’s a destination.) Maybe shoes lend themselves to physical shopping – simplicity and immediate rewards – you walk in, try them on, buy them and walk out. There was scarcely a single customer, they were in groups — this was a social shopping phenomenon.

Remote shopping, courtesy of Amazon and others, can replicate shoe-buying well enough, but even a brand like TOMS, which started online, quickly expanded to retail distribution to achieve scale. But scale doesn’t equal loyalty. I wear TOMS partly because of the social responsibility tie-in, and they’re comfortable. I’m part of a community of TOMS wearers, instantly recognizable by the heel. I know Adam Ruins Everything – so I get it, but there’s still plenty of kids in the world that appreciate a free pair of shoes, and profit isn’t evil. Affinity is tribal by nature.

Take the perfect cup of coffee … Liz Kislik’s quest for a “quality” latte is both funny and a tasteful lesson in a superior customer experience. Sometimes we’re punished when we wander from our tried-and-true. Simplicity and a 90-minute delay in rewards appears to have sealed the deal for her — but I loved the way she blogged about it, too.

So as digital transformation disrupts, killing business models and creating new ones, what can a brand do? Keep it simple, delight the customer, and reward early and often — your customers will evangelize for you.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

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