Driving Customer Loyalty Through Social Media Interaction

Consumers now, more than ever, are looking for more than just product from companies they frequent or brands they enjoy.  Beyond simply being provided a service or goods, they are seeking a personal connection.  They aren’t likely to remember every point along the way; only interactions that produced positive emotions and experiences.  Customers want a peek behind the curtain, opportunities to build trust where they already invest monetarily.  At its core, customer loyalty is about emotion and social media provides many opportunities, through both word and deed, to interact and connect.

Building Trust

The concept of company loyalty drivers is nothing new.  Wether it be a store credit card that offers exclusive perks and savings or dependable, timely customer service, people are more likely to return to where they’ve had a positive experience. By providing a good experience you are, in turn, creating brand advocates.   The Guardian suggests businesses take advantage of social media interactions- and not just the positive ones.  Many consumers who share their bad experience with a brand or company will not receive a response.  Follow up!  These missed opportunities can cause short and long term damage.  With so many options available, when expectations aren’t met people can just move on to the next brand that will fit their needs.  Having built this trust garners authentic loyalty instead of feeling bullied into staying or returning.  Set a high standard and strive to surpass it.

Behind the Scenes

As addressed above, social media has redefined the way businesses and consumers interact.  Easy interaction through platforms such as Twitter have made it easier to move past the buy and sell relationship already established.  Beyond that, webcasting services like those offered through BlueJeans Primetime can serve to give customers a peek behind the proverbial curtain, allowing more hands-on interaction.  When unveiling a new product, service, or new features for an existing product, an interactive Q&A webcast could be set up; no need for interested parties to be present so long as they’re able to connect with a computer or other mobile device.  That feeling of exclusivity serves to further foster a sense of loyalty, of importance.

Emotional Ties

On the other hand, if all you have to offer are measurable rewards-rewards that rely on transactional engagement- a rationally driven customer may only stick around until a better option comes along.  Developing a positive consumer/brand relationship is more than just a perfect record- meeting deadlines, shipping correct orders.  Sometimes mix ups occur and all that’s left is to fix them; communication is key!  Social media platforms make it easier than ever to reach out to a customer to make amends; for example, a direct message on Twitter explaining the faux pas may be enough to salvage the situation.  As Entrepreneur suggests, reaching out may even endear you the wronged party even more than if the issue had never occurred.  Customers are more likely to remain loyal to a brand if they associate them with favorable emotions, tipping the scales in favor of positive emotions over customer satisfaction.  Emotions should be more than just considered- they should be a key part of your strategy for customer retention.

The common thread here is having a deeper understanding of the wants and needs of those you’re trying to reach.  Social media provides many new and exciting opportunities to connect with loyal customers as well as attract new ones.  From one-on-one to one-to-many interactive experiences, consumers are looking for more ways to form connections with brands they already trust and ones that could potentially offer a more satisfactory experience.  By understanding what emotions bring your customers back time and again, you can better use these opportunities to drive authentic loyalty to and advocacy.

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