Road map to increased customer loyalty

Customer loyalty – everybody wants it, but it can be tricky to find as customers become increasingly fickle. In this infographic, we’re sharing five things you can do to keep your customers coming back for more, time and time again, based on a report from Oracle exploring the relationship between buyers and brands.

Take-5-customer-loyalty-road-map-FINAL-1

How do you inspire loyalty in your customers? Add your tips and tricks to the list by leaving us a comment, or getting involved on Twitter and LinkedIn – just follow the links below.

Looking for insight? Try the coffee machine

In my early career I worked for an IT service organisation. There were engineers everywhere: in their cars; out with customers; at their desks; by the coffee machine. You couldn’t leave the confines of the marketing ‘ivory tower’ without bumping in to them—and they were a friendly bunch so there was always a smile and sparky conversation.

Customer insight: off the record, uncut and uncensored

This banter told me what kinds of problems our customers were facing; and how we were solving them. It told me who were our most vociferous supporters—and detractors—and precisely what they thought about us and our products and services.

This insight cost me nothing—well little more than the price of a coffee and the occasional bacon butty. And okay, it wasn’t rigorously collected and statistically relevant but it was valuable, nonetheless, and fuelled a pipeline of customer references for our case study programme.

Relying on the insights and observations of your frontline folks

The HBR post on engaging with frontline staff , brought back memories. Within many organisations there’s a similar goldmine of insight that may be untapped.

We talk a lot about the voice of the customer in our line of work. We can run interviews, panels, focus groups and surveys to get close to this opinion—and do. We would always advocate involving one degree of separation and talking to sales and support staff, too. They spend every day with your customers and what they know costs you very little to find out.

Building personas and understanding your audience

Good content means you have to anticipate what your audience wants. But how do you do that? Ginny Redish, in her book “Letting go of words”, suggests seven tips for getting and using information about your web users. We think it can be as simple as three:

  • Collect: Who are your major audiences? And what are their main characteristics? What else do you know about them? Gather your audience’s questions, tasks and stories.
  • Create: Use this information and customer insight to create personas. After all, it’s far easier to communicate with your audience once they stop being strangers—and start being someone whose interests and motivations are more familiar to you.
  • Conceive: Use your information to write scenarios for your website; journeys and stories that would capture the persona’s interest, using language and analogies that would be meaningful to them.

 

So what information goes into a persona?

You need to go beyond the crude segmentation that’s often all that’s available in the B2B space: company size, vertical, geography, demographic, job title and weave in more personal elements so the character takes shape. These 1-2-page descriptions cover aspirations and goals, patterns of behaviour, values, skills, attitude and the constraints and opportunities of their environment.

For example:

RICHARD

  • 55 years old
  • Finance Director
  • Lives in London
  • Married

Richard and his wife work full-time. They make six-figure incomes, and they put in the hours that requires.

Richard uses email but doesn’t get on the web much at work. His web use is mostly personal, at home. That doesn’t mean he has time to waste. He’s impatient at home, too. Time is very precious for Richard and his wife.

He wears contacts; his eyes aren’t what they were when he was younger. He hates websites with tiny print; they make him feel old.

When it’s time to renew his phone contract, he’ll try online this year and save himself some paperwork—if it’s easy to do.

“The web is a tool to get things done. Fast”
“If it doesn’t work right, I move on. I don’t have time to figure it out.”

Typical web tasks

  • Reads news
  • Checks sports sites
  • Buys things for their weekend house

 

Now, instead of talking generally, you can talk specifically about whether Jane can find the information about Big Data (for example); will this help Bob fix his problem? When Jamie knows the fee what will he do next?

And, you’ll also know how best to address their questions—a quick read, an audio description, an explanatory video.

Persona by any other name

This little piece of vocabulary is taking on a whole new significance as many of our clients are exploring the idea of content marketing and building out their strategy. It’s not a new idea of course, especially in publishing where the readership of a magazine or newspaper is well understood. Pick up the Guardian or the Daily Mail, for example, and you instantly recognise the stereotypical reader that they’re talking to. My first encounter with a system that used something similar to personas was Experian’s Mosaic system. How many of you remember that, I wonder?

Short cuts to understanding your audience

There was also a competing system called ACORN. Whichever you used at the time to make sense of buyer behaviour, it was the fact that the people were named: Darren and Joanne with their middle England happy family; pensioners Percy and Ada living in twilight subsistence; and symbols of success Rupert and Felicity (how 80s is that!), that piqued my interest. These weren’t just made up labels but the output of statistical analysis as to what the most popular names were for people in these geodemographic groupings. When crafting persuasive communication, it was a huge help to hold a picture of enterprising Dean, holding the keys to his white van, front of mind.

Personas are stereotypes by any other name. They are a useful short cut to understanding an audience. Wikipedia sums it up nicely.

A user persona is a representation of the goals and behaviour of a real group of users. In most cases, personas are synthesized from data collected from interviews with users. They are captured in 1–2 page descriptions that include behaviour patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and environment, with a few fictional personal details to make the persona a realistic character. For each product, more than one persona is usually created, but one persona should always be the primary focus for the design.

Using buyer personas in B2B content marketing

When it comes to content they are an exceedingly useful tool. They go beyond the crude segmentation that’s often all that’s available in the B2B space: company size, vertical, geography, job title and weave in more personal elements so the character takes shape. These 1-2-page descriptions cover aspirations and goals, patterns of behaviour, skills, attitude and the constraints and opportunities of their environment. This way, when we communicate, it’s not a stranger we are talking to; it’s someone whose interest and motivations are more familiar to us. How much easier it is therefore, to tell a story that will capture their interest, using language and analogies that are meaningful to them.

The role of the CIO: has it really changed?

May you live in interesting times. Who said that? Apparently the jury is still out as to whether it is an old Chinese curse or something more modern. Regardless of its origins it can have no better application than to the role of the CIO in the information age.

Often the target of the communications we are crafting for clients, we’ve come to know this chap quite well. The job has certainly changed in recent times, moving away from managing technology to managing service delivery – quite a different beast, requiring a different skill set and outlook, to tame.

In his article this morning, Mark Kobayashi-Hillary at Silicon.com predicts the decline of the role. He goes on to predict the rise of another, however; one where IT leadership is integrated with business leadership. Surely this is the role of the CIO, to manage the strategic information resources in the same way that the CFO manages the finances.

What are your thoughts on this?