Happy thoughts make a happy brand
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Make it emotional
Making it emotional is not a new mantra for marketing strategies or an added component to the next creative brief. The strength of the humanity, of feelings and emotions in your marketing your marketing communications is a well trodden and respected path. But why?
Because we may buy from the sterile technological world of the internet, websites may well be the dominant sales force of the now and forever but we are all still human and we buy like humans buy. With hope in our heart and trust on our minds. The most valuable emotion any business, brand or marketing can generate in its customers is trust. Because trust is the cornerstone of any loyal relationship. Deliver trust and you deliver customer loyalty, and ultimately, that is what will make your brand (and business) stronger.
First Direct is a great example of this. It’s a service brand that never looks its clients in the eye, never meets them, never has the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation about its service or product range but is consistently rated as one of the most trusted business brands in the UK. and look at its corporate identity, check out the graphic design input into its website and advertising, black, white, down the line tone of voice, absolutely no nonsense. So not great graphics, not fancy creative campaigns and no personal touch. So why so good? From the start, it made a commitment ‘to pioneer amazing service’, and to get the client experience right each time, over time, because it understood that a repeated positive experience creates the trust, that generates the loyalty, that builds the brand, that makes the business.
We are not talking marketing here, not communications, ROI or point of sale, but feelings. Think about the tradespeople you use, we rarely recommend a plumber because of the quality of their graphic design or website. Yes it’s alway the quality of the work that really matters but we always remember how easy they were to get hold of, if they were on time, if they cleaned up, if they were nice people.
Take your local Indian restaurant The biryani has to be good, of course, and the delivery timely, that’s the quality bit – but if it they throw in a complimentary bhaji now and again and remember their regulars’ names, now that’s where the connections are made and the service, the personal marketing and brand starts paying their way.
In building up the friendly, the efficient and the professional, we are getting the little things right that are so important to us all – happy experiences lead to happy thoughts. It’s just doing a good job, doing the human things that we all value. That’s how you build trust, and that’s how you generate loyalty, thats how you generate the positive emotions that are so critical to sealing the deal. Marketing? Corporate communications? Graphic design? Be happy and love what you do. That’s the branding strategy that works when it matters.
I liked this story: in March 2017, The Guardian reported how Le Creuset took the concept of customer service to a new level by replacing a 40-year-old casserole dish bought from a charity shop that had lost its stickiness. Possibly over and above the call, l agree, but if you deliver a great product or service and, in the process, make your customers feel like they are valued and you genuinely give a damn, then you are on the right path to making them feel the right way about you, your brand and your business.
From the good, to the bad and the downright ugly.
When was the last time you called an office and tried to set up an appointment? How easy was it? How friendly was the person at the other end of the line, if you managed to call an actual person? A business that is happy to answer your call with a friendly, human voice, does more to build its brand than any marketing, social media campaign or carefully scripted blog will ever do.
Friendly and helpful staff consistently come out top of surveys on customer service, followed by a good knowledge of the product or service and speed of service. The top gripes are almost always how hard it is to get hold of the business (and only being able to email not call), and when you do, automated telephone systems or call centres, being put on hold or passed around lots of different people just to get a simple question answered. And the best at it: First Direct (again), John Lewis, M&S, Tesco Mobile and Pets at Home accordingly to the latest customer service survey Jan 2021 by ThisisMoney.co.uk. Big budget creative campaigns, teams of marketers overseeing carefully managed corporate identities – they may get you there but at the point where it really matters its not the advertising, the digital or social that matters but the sound of a human voice or a warm welcome.
Almost invariably the clearest examples of how not to interact with your customers can be found in the telecoms sector. Do you remember how, many years ago, BT used to tell us ’it’s good to talk’ Now the company, which has suffered all sorts of mis-steps and calamities over the past few years, is trying to spread a little love with its ‘Be There’ campaign.
And yet BT’s customers have been complaining for a long time that they don’t get the service they pay for, BT has been consistently fined for not connecting their rivals to their network within the agreed times and have you ever actually tried calling BT? In a recent Ofcom survey, BT remained the company that attracted the most complaints, overall had a level of dissatisfaction 69 per cent above the industry average and was the slowest company to answer a call, taking on average 2.51 minutes to connect to an operator. ‘Be there’? Really?
And the point being, if it was you on the end of that phone for half an hour only to be cut off, misunderstood or mis-directed – for all the glossy design and positioning in the world, how would it make you feel about that business, about that brand?
Sports Direct is a good example of how to and how not to interact with your customers. Online it is excellent, with a marketing website offering great deals, a user-friendly, neat and uncluttered shopping experience, and a helpful and clear purchase pipeline with no obligation to subscribe or join the club. But I don’t think you could use the words user-friendly or uncluttered about the in-store experience. Often chaotic and very rarely personable, it’s no surprise that according to Which, Sports Direct along with Carphone Warehouse, Debenhams, Homebase and JD Sports were the lowest ranked companies, receiving the same one star out of five for overall customer service.
This article has been a lot about customer service, a phrase we are all so familiar with often without really thinking about what that means. Yes the key is the point of delivery. Friendly, timely, professional at that point is key. But it’s also about the other bits, the little bits, the complimentary bhaji, the builder who always leaves the place clean, the shop assistant who actually listens and helps. These are the moments, this is the humanity coming through that generates the feelings we all remember. How do you want your customers to feel? Well, remember, a smile isn’t just something your face does, it’s indicative of a state of mind, a reflection of attitude and approach, and probably the most underrated marketing strategy, graphic design brief or brand building tool you can buy.