Richard Branson on Building Brand Loyalty

Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, which consists of more than 400 companies around the world including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and Virgin Mobile.

virgin-logos-emineo mediaHe shares some practical branding advice on building a customer focused business. The Virgin Group has started many businesses with the goal of prioritizing people, the planet and profit equally, and they thrive despite occasional economic dips and competition from much bigger companies that were specifically built to bring in cash.

If you win people over, the profits will follow.

The first step in building a customer-focused business is to ask yourself: What can we can offer customers that others aren’t, or won’t, because they are so narrowly focused on profit? If you base your new business on this premise, it will be much easier to find an edge over your competitors.

Unfortunately, this means that you will probably face a lot of opposition and second-guessing from others in the industry when you launch your startup. Back in the 1980s, when people were wondering whether Virgin Atlantic, our other airline, would survive, some critics said that few people would fly across the Atlantic on an airline called Virgin. We responded that since we only had one 747 plane, we’d be just fine with only a small number of passengers!

As it turned out, those customers loved our airline and were very loyal, and we were soon competing with the major airlines.

Build on your employees’ ideas.
The second step involves encouraging your staff to think like and empathize with customers, and then tell you about any ideas that they may have for innovations to your product or service. Find a way to empower your people to follow up on their ideas.

At the Virgin Group, we put a lot of effort into this: One example that comes to mind is that everyone at Virgin America – the CEO, the pilots, the accountants, everyone – attends an annual training program called Refresh to celebrate their achievements, build team spirit and encourage creativity. We run sessions where teammates brainstorm new ideas.

Many of the best ideas are free — it doesn’t cost much to make someone happy.

Increase profits by being nice.
In some American classrooms I recently visited, there were signs posted that read: “Work hard, be nice.” That sign should probably be hung in boardrooms too. There is no better way to improve the bottom line than to go the extra mile for your customers.

The other day I heard about an entrepreneur who arrived at our terminal in Portland, Ore. He was frantic: He’d been preparing for his new company’s launch the night before, and then he woke up 20 minutes before the departure of his flight from Portland to San Francisco. His flight had departed, and there weren’t any other flights to San Francisco. He was alone and out of options – have you ever been in a situation like that?

Our team rallied and got him on a flight to Los Angeles with a connection to San Francisco. It would be tight because the connection departed the same time as the flight to Los Angeles arrived, but they were rooting for him. They assigned him a seat at the front of the plane and told him about the quickest route to his connection. A crew member told the pilots about the rush, and they managed to get the plane to Los Angeles seven minutes early.

When the entrepreneur reached his connecting gate on time, the pilot and crew on that flight congratulated him.

He wrote on his blog: “They had gone above and beyond that day. Each and every one of them had a hand in making my experience not only successful, but enjoyable — and the best part, I didn’t once feel as if I was inconveniencing any one of them.” Such effort and kindness can earn you a customer for life.

Once you’ve completed these steps — you’ve created an innovative, unequaled product or service, and through the kindness and helpfulness of your employees, you are winning new loyal customers every day – stop and take a look around: You just built a thriving business.

Source Entrepreneur


Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty can be won or lost!  in just 76 seconds, according to consumer research from live chat provider LivePerson, which found that real-time access to human staff at critical moments remains an essential factor even for online businesses. Brand_Loyalty_emineo media

The global study, entitled Connecting with Customers, examined trends in online behavior and consumer expectations, and found that 69% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides live, human assistance at critical moments, and 82% indicated that their perception of a brand improves when they can communicate with a real human via instant channels such as live chat. This article is copyright 2

When a customer needs help, the survey revealed that the window of opportunity to either win or lose brand loyalty is a mere 76 seconds. Consumers expect access to real-time help within 76 seconds and, if they don’t get it, they tend to choose the slower, more frustrating option of email or worse, they abandon the company’s web site entirely.

“The digital era is massively de-personalising, so whenever brands can engage their customers with a more personalised, human touch, it makes a meaningful difference,” explained Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer for LivePerson. “No matter how connected today’s consumers are, they still crave real-time, human communication with brands online, and they want it on the go, from the channel they are using at the time.”

Digital engagement tools like live chat, which provide timely, one-to-one assistance to consumers, are becoming essential for increasing brand loyalty, especially as the amount of time consumers spend communicating with brands online increases: approximately one in five of consumers (19%) spend 50% of their shopping expenditure online. Failure to engage these consumers in the right way could translate to lost revenue and lost brand value.

The study revealed four underlying key themes:

  1. Brand Trust and Loyalty
    Despite living in a digital world, where information or purchases are just a click away, it remains clear that there is no substitute for the human touch. Live digital engagement between brands and consumers is not only effective in driving revenue, but it also increases brand value and loyalty according to the survey. Some 78% of consumers agree that they are more likely to be loyal to a company that provides real time, one-to-one support at critical moments during their digital journey. More than 80% of global consumers indicated that they want to engage in live chat sessions when they need help online, and stated that they have a stronger perception of a brand when there is a real-time, human connection available. Additionally, 88% of respondents indicate that chat with a live agent makes their experience better when they need help online; and approximately 45% say they’d abandon a purchase if it wasn’t possible to communicate with a company representative via live chat if they had a question or problem.
  2. Speed is Non-negotiable
    Gone are the days of waiting hours for an email response, or even a few minutes to hold on a call. Today’s consumers are on the go, and want to be able to connect with brands at any time, from anywhere. According to the research 73% of consumers stated speed and efficiency was the number one factor in creating a great online experience, and 72% of consumers cite immediacy as crucial when communicating with a brand when they have a question or need assistance. In addition, 56% of respondents indicated they would return as a customer if a brand saved them time online.
  3. High Impact Moments
    Throughout the digital journey, there are particular points when consumers are more likely to need help or guidance in order to reach their goal. If brands identify and anticipate consumer needs in these moments that matter most and engage them right away, they can better help the consumer to reach their goal. If they fail to provide the right support or engagement, they risk losing that customer all together. According to research, the most critical moments in the customer journey where assistance is needed include: when a consumer has a specific question about a product or service they want to buy (42%), as well as the actual moment of purchase, with 35% of respondents saying that they need help or support at this stage. And even after the purchase has been made, consumers want access to help or support when they have a problem with the product after they receive it (35%).
  4. Consumer Expectations and Frustration
    Although brands invest significant resources into their digital assets, consumer expectations are constantly evolving, creating both an opportunity and challenge for brands to keep up with the pace of change. The “Connecting with Customers” research indicates that 49% of consumers continue to find websites difficult to navigate, with 33% struggling to seek help or locate customer service. The results of a poor online experience can be substantial according to the research, with 45% of consumers stating they will abandon their purchase; 43% will feel a loss of trust; and 32% don’t feel valued as a customer.

The implications for brands are clear – a positive experience drives loyalty, and a negative one can be very harmful to a company’s bottom line and reputation. More than two thirds of respondents (78%) stated they are more likely to be loyal to a brand as a result of a positive online experience.

Source The Wise Marketer