Brand-loyal to a fault: Brainwashing or persistently positive customer experience?

Brand-loyal to a fault: Brainwashing or persistently positive customer experience?

I was on a call the other day when my husband, a once avid runner looking to get started again, texted me a picture from the shoe store. He had dropped in to browse running shoes from his favorite manufacturer and wanted my opinion on the style and color of one particular pair.

Now, I’m no running shoe snob, but these were the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen. They just screamed “NOTICE ME!!!”—not my husband’s style at all. Trying to be positive, I texted back that they were okay, but that he might want to consider another shoe or even another brand. Interestingly, he declined and said he would wait for his favorite manufacturer to issue another new shoe—he has bought the same brand for years and wouldn’t even consider another one.

That got me thinking about brand loyalty. Was my husband just being stubborn, or did he really feel he had no other option beyond his favorite brand? That, in turn, got me thinking about the customer journey, customer lifetime value (CLV) and where a company can capture a customer’s interest—and loyalty—across that journey (yes, I am a geek for this stuff!). My husband has bought the same brand of shoe for years. When he originally selected this brand, like many others who shop for new running shoes—or any other product—he typically checked out reviews in the running magazines, did online research to see what other runners were saying, and talked to his running buddies (in person, by phone and through social media). Only after all that, did he finally go to the store to actually look at and try on any shoes of interest.

Think about all those opportunities for the manufacturer to make an impression on a potential customer—advertisements and reviews in running magazines, social media presence, information and reviews on its website, other marketing outreach such as e-mails, the contact center (should he have questions or a customer service issue), and in-store promotions and interactions with sales associates. For some of those interactions, like my husband’s discussions with his running buddies and visits to other forum sites, the company can only be an indirect influence at best. But all the others are opportunities to directly interact with a possible customer to create and reinforce a favorable impression—and to build on established brand loyalty.

Brand-loyal to a fault: Brainwashing or persistently positive customer experience?

Given all those opportunities, I began to wonder what communications tools that shoe manufacturer uses to engage its customers and enhance their experience. Does it use something like Avaya Customer Engagement solutions, for example, which enable our clients to deliver a true omnichannel experience by supporting all types of customer interactions more efficiently and having the right resources, with the right tools ready to service consumers? Does the company contact its customers when it’s time for a new pair of shoes based on its knowledge of their running goals to grow CLV? Whether it’s enriching the customer experience at the point of interaction, orchestrating interactions between channels and resources, or optimizing engagement by capturing, analyzing and applying vital intelligence about customers and interactions, the technology is available today to take customer engagement and the customer experience to entirely new levels.

Brainwashing? I don’t think so. Informed and educated customers who are treated well and consistently are given products of sufficient quality for a reasonable price will gravitate toward and stick with a brand. Even a brand that every once in awhile lays a big fat goose egg (like a shoe that shouts “NOTICE ME!!!”) can recover quickly by having established, and by persistently reinforcing, the qualities that lead to brand loyalty. Customer engagement technologies can play a big role in that process.

Are your customers brand-loyal to a fault? Have you walked in your customers’ shoes to know the experiences they get and if that differs from what they want? How does your company build and maintain customer loyalty? I’d love to hear from you.