Like all relationships, your franchise brand’s relationship with its customers is built on emotion. Without an emotional connection to the brand, you may have their business today, but you haven’t yet earned their loyalty or the right to their future business.
Emotional connections aren’t built overnight. They come from repeatedly demonstrating your commitment to serving customers’ needs, wants and goals. This long-term relationship building leads to referrals, repeat business and highly engaged brand loyalists is what creates the separation from just being a good company to being a great brand. An emotional connection to your brand can transcend price, promotion, people or process. Of course you still need those for continued success and the consistent delivery of your brand promise to your customer, but those alone do not create or guarantee the emotional connection.
If you’d like to take your customer relationships from the transactional to the emotional, here are a few ways to get started:
Set the Foundation
Before you can start forming emotional connections with customers, you must create a brand that can do so sincerely.
In an age when consumers’ trust of businesses is in decline, it’s essential to establish an authentic brand personality. To do that, you must determine your brand’s purpose, or why you sell what you sell.
A strong, clear brand purpose serves as a driving force behind all you do. It guides your marketing, offerings, hiring and customer service. Once you’ve nailed down a brand purpose that’s true to your company, it should inform every strategic decision you make and every interaction customers have with your brand.
Without a specific brand purpose, branding efforts feel insincere to customers, and relationships fizzle out before they can grow.
If you don’t care deeply about your customers, you can’t expect them to care about you.
After you determine your dialed-in brand purpose, the next step is to create detailed profiles of your target demographics – or even your customers as individuals. With current customer relationship management (CRM) technology, brands can collect data on individual customers and use it to customize their experiences.
One of the most important insights your data can give you is a glimpse into your customers’ motivations:
- Why do they purchase goods and services from you?
- When they buy, what are they trying to accomplish?
- How can you help them achieve that goal faster, easier or for less money? In other words, what value do you add to their pursuit, besides the product or service itself?
If you use data to answer these questions and create actionable plans, you’ll be well on your way to forming emotional bonds with customers.
Today, customers’ interactions with your brand start long before they step in the door.
The Internet makes it easy for consumers to research different brands before they buy – or even form an impression of your brand as they scroll through your website and social media sites. Savvy brands are proactive about optimizing customers’ experience from that first Google search to an eventual purchase.
Your website, mobile app, social media presence and customer service offerings all contribute to your relationships with customers. The goal is to provide a seamless experience across platforms and at each stage of the sales funnel, so customers build trust in your brand with each step.
Strong customer relationships create outspoken brand advocates who refer friends and contribute to your company’s positive reputation – not to mention engaged customers who drive sales growth. An emotionally engaged customer base will propel your system forward and attract qualified franchisees.
The longer you exist as a brand, the more likely you are to disappoint a customer or your entire customer base at some point in time. When that day inevitably occurs, you must be prepared to be completely and totally transparent with your customers. Like any relationship built on a foundation of emotion, your customers will expect a certain level of trust and transparency in order to forgive and move forward in the relationship. If you damage that relationship by being coy or less than truthful, you will do irreparable damage to that emotional connection and lose that customer for good.
For help developing a brand purpose you can leverage, contact Winmark Franchise Partners. With 30 years of franchise experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing more than 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help grow your brand through sound strategy and expert franchise advice.
For more information, contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.