“Thank you. Come again.”
We’ve all heard Apu’s famous catchphrase on The Simpsons, finishing every transaction with an invitation to shop again. Apu is trying to achieve something every business in the world wants: repeat customers.
And with stats like these, it’s just common sense:
- Acquiring a new customer costs 6–7X more than retaining an existing one. – Bain & Company.
- Increasing customer retention by 2% has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%. – Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5–20%. – Bain & Company.
It’s far more expensive to bring in new business than to retain current customers. This is a big deal!
Usually, at this point, the “repeat customer” conversation turns to account management or customer service. But that’s not where I want to go.
Let’s back up a couple of steps and talk about the foundation that will set the stage for repeat customers: your brand.
The Brand Promise
A brand promise grows out of a brand definition. When you discover your brand values, purpose, audience, and personality, you promise the public that you will stay true to those things. And believe me, the public will hold you to your word (ahem…Volkswagen…).
Values shouldn’t be limited to the board of directors. Personality traits shouldn’t stop with the sales team. Your brand definition should be consistent across every customer touchpoint.
Take Groupon for example; one of their personality traits is “entertaining.” That means their brand promise is to entertain everyone—from potential customers to partners! Now, I recently got a message through LinkedIn from an internal recruiter at Groupon, that looked like this:
Did you see the link to the gif towards the end? Now, that’s entertaining. Clearly, Groupon has taken their brand promise seriously. I’ve had similar experiences with their customer service, and that kind of consistency makes me a happy semi-regular customer.
Conversely, here are two common scenarios that happen when companies don’t keep their brand promises.
- The Reed Blowing in the Wind
First (and we see this most often), leadership never nails down their values, their brand personality, their audience, or their purpose. The company basically has no baseline—no foundation from which to communicate. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and depend on the leadership/staff moment by moment. And yeah, leadership may set the expectation for “great customer service”, but that could mean a lot of things. Without a brand promise to adhere to, every department is upstream without a paddle. As customers interact with different portions of the company, they become increasingly confused and put-off by the lack of consistency. What happens? They (and their money) find a new brand to befriend.
- Multiple Personality Disorder
Ok, the second scenario: the company leadership team devises beautiful ideas about how their brand will act (and feel). Perfect, right? But they never implement those values and ideals through the rest of the organization.
Marketing may create messaging that aligns with the brand to bring new customers in the door, but as soon as those newcomers interact with a sales rep, they don’t experience the same brand. Customers become disenchanted quickly and lose any sense of loyalty they previously had. Rightfully so – they got played. It feels like a bait n’ switch.
Years ago, my wife and I moved to a new city and were looking for a new credit union. We finally decided on one that seemed like the perfect fit. Based on the website, they appeared to be friendly and modern. Unfortunately, our second in-person visit to a branch verified they were none of those things. We were greeted by a gun-wielding security guard who checked us in. Then we waited for 45 minutes only to be pushed into opening a credit card. We felt tricked, disillusioned, and we defected to a different bank within 2 months.
How do I get there?
One part covers all the visual aspects (things like logo usage, brand colors, fonts, photo guidelines, and textures). The other portion includes all verbal aspects of the brand (What’s the voice of the brand? What are some core messages that tell the story?). These guidelines grow out of the Conceptual Brand Definition (values, personality, purpose) and are targeted to your brand’s audience.
They’re highly adaptable to any department or marketing campaign, or as training for new employees. Documentation serves as a baseline for the expected customer experience. If your company doesn’t have documentation clearly stating how the brand promise should be carried through the entire company, I would highly recommend pursuing a solution.
Don’t lose customers. It’s just embarrassing. There is a better way: forming a brand promise…and keeping it.
It’s not easy. It takes accountability and buy-in from every department.
As always, we’re happy to help. If your company is leaking customers, give me a call!