I count myself lucky that I’ve made a handful of great friends that I expect to last the rest of my life. My best friend, Sara, has stood the test of time (for 12 years and counting) and has truly taught me what it means to build a lifelong relationship. She’s been there through thick and thin, missteps and victories, and I doubt our bond will ever be broken.
What wouldn’t you give to have your consumers feel the same way about your brand?
Companies have the potential to create these amazing bonds and solidify lifelong loyalty if they invest in their consumers like you would your friends. I've recognized three key learnings from my friendship with Sara that companies should adopt to reach best friend status with their consumers (or as I’ll be calling it, best brand status).
Although we grew up down the street from each other, Sara and I now live nearly 800 miles apart. I can confirm - long distance relationships suck. But Sara and I make it a priority to keep in touch by calling each other every chance we get. We fill each other in on the moving pieces of our lives, from jobs to family to that funny joke I heard today. Even though it’s been almost two years since we’ve seen each other in person, I feel like Sara and I are as connected as ever.
This is the first and most important key to a best brand’s success - communication. A best brand knows that in order to build relationships, they need to stay in touch with their consumer.
However, out of the millions of companies in the world, very few are actually good at talking to their customers. With social media and mobile connecting everyone to everything, there is no excuse for brands to neglect or ignore their consumers. However, data shows that a disconnect between companies and their consumers is the norm. Here are a few stats about interactions that might make your jaw drop:
- 5 out of every 6 requests made by consumers on social media to a business go unanswered.
- The volume of social media requests have increased 77% year over year, but responses from businesses have only increased by 5%.
- 70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter
- 7 of every 8 customer messages go unanswered within 72 hours
Would you stay friends with someone who never responded to your texts, or told you “I’ll call you right back” and never did? Neither would I.
Brands that invest in analyzing data and understanding their persona’s consumer journey benefit through a customized communication methodology that resonates with their audience. Those best brand companies create multiple positive associations by interacting with their consumers or being leaders in social media (Taco Bell), giving the consumer the benefit of the doubt (American Express), throwing in lagniappes and surprise experiences (Domino's), or even customizing the customer service experience (Apple). These are the brands that keep coming up in conversation, and keep crushin’ it in their respective industries.
Sara also is my go-to when I just need to talk to someone. Whenever I call her, regardless of the news, she listens. Whether I’m filling her in about my latest embarrassing moment, listening to her talk about work, or we’re reminiscing about a high school crush that popped up on our newsfeed, we’re interested in what the other person has to say.
Although engaging in two-way communication is a huge step (The Maritz study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded) Best brands do more than respond - they listen to what you’re saying and react appropriately. The conversation shouldn’t stop at your response.
As Dale Carnegie taught us, “The desire for a feeling of importance is one of the chief distinguishing differences between mankind and the animals.” Combining data-driven insights with smarter social listening and Natural Language Processing, companies can pay attention to the small details that make your consumers special and unique. Observing patterns of behavior, listening to how your consumers are behaving, and actioning on the conversations you have, you can adjust, respond, and connect to resonate with them emotionally. These moments create conversations that turn brand users into brand evangelists.
Creating a seamless, human-centered experience for their consumer makes your consumer seem important, and helps make your brand remarkable. But also remember that your consumer is a person too - so above all, figure out a way to brighten up their day and watch them thank you for it (all over social!).
Although you would think our multi-state separation would put some emotional distance between us, instead it gives Sara and I the opportunity to get creative with staying in touch. We get to speak at least once a month through her latest idea - we send each other an inspirational quote complete with a hand drawn picture (albeit a poorly drawn picture if I’m the sender). Even though doodling a picture takes only a few minute investment, getting a letter in the mail from Sara lightens up my week.
Simple, hand drawn notes show that Sara cares that I’m happy, and she goes out of her way to brighten my day. Your brand can leverage simple acts of kindness to stand out and connect on an emotional level with their consumer. One way companies can show they care and want their consumers to be happy is through micro-moments.
Micro-moments are exactly what they sound like - small pain-points or needs in your day where companies can insert themselves as a solution. According to a Google Study, 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search, so each moment a person is connected to tech is a moment your consumer to connect to you. This concept truly captures human-centered design - companies need to understand their consumers and the customer journey to the fullest in order for micro-moments to be effective, and to be seen as a brand that really cares about their consumer. After all, your best friend isn’t always physically there, but they find tiny moments that make an impact on your day - and that’s why they matter to you. There are some key brands that are doing an exceptional job of being a best - just take a look at AirBnB capitalizing on giving travelers the local experience, or Sephora understanding their consumer and taking advantage of pre-shopping behavior.
Here at Digital Surgeons, we believe in human-centered interactions, whether you’re a client, a consumer, or a co-worker. Through proper communication and a deep-rooted desire to make others happy, we can help craft a strategy to make your brand a ‘best brand.’ Here are some quotes from thought leaders who think the same way:
- Marty Neumier: People choose brands like they choose friends - with their gut. “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization”
- Seth Godin: A friend doesn’t become a best friend overnight - neither do brands. It takes experiences to graduate to the next level. “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
- Pete Sena: You aren’t friends with someone for their service of friendship - you’re friends with someone because of who they are. “People may experience brands from the outside in, but they must be built from the inside out to create meaningful connections and experiences with their audience.”
- Simon Sinek - Common values and authenticity are core to strong relationships. “The sense of trust comes from the sense of common values and common beliefs… Organizations should say and do what they actually believe and they will attract people who believe what they believe.”
Digital Surgeons takes into account all the components that qualify a best friend to deeply understand and build empathy with your consumers so we can capitalize on micro-moments. We’ve gone from the ground up for Arccos, understanding their consumer thoroughly in order to make a brand that would stick. We’ve transformed fiber into an exciting component of people’s diets with Nugo Nutrition, and have positioned the recruiting company The McIntyre Group so they are the “people’s people." By treating each brand differently, using design sprints, and our own unique methodology, we can make your brand one that people can create an emotional connection with.
Want to learn more about how Digital Surgeons can help your company become a best brand? Let’s chat.