We all want our customers to talk well about us and - if possible - act as ambassadors for our brand. But in spite of what many think, this goal is not achieved by merely offering great experiences, or aiming for high recommendation scores.
Being happy with a brand is not enough to make us talk about it. For example, I’m extremely happy with the dishwasher we bought a year ago. If asked, I'd happily score it a 10 on the recommendation scale. But I cannot recall any time at which I brought it up in conversation with any of my friends. From my perspective, it is great at washing the dishes, and that’s about the end of it.
The reason for this disconnect is that even the most extreme form of satisfaction is only a part of the puzzle. Even if they love you, most customers will only talk well about your brand if this enriches their conversations. In my case, dishwashers don't.
To structurally get happy customers to translate their intention to promote into action, you need to infuse your customer experience with ready-made stories that your customers can tell. In other words, you have to give them something worth talking about. This requires three components to be in place:
1. Something extra-ordinary needs to happen
I mean this very literal as something out of the ordinary. People can only talk about things they actually perceive, and no matter how hard you try, your regular customer experience will be expected and therefore unremarkable. That is why you need to script unexpected - and obviously positive - moments that kick customers out of autopilot mode, and into paying attention to the reasons your brand is so unique. Only by being remarkable, you can give them stories to tell.
2. The story needs to be self-affirming
Being remarkable is not enough. Any brand story will only make the conversational cut, if telling it makes customers feel good about themselves. For example: if I talk about the bio-branded tomatoes I buy from the organic store around the corner, I will always have a personal - often subconscious - agenda for doing so. This may be that I want to look good to my friends (look at me, I’m bio). That I want to help them (bio is good for you). That I want to help the guy running the organic store (he's really nice!). That I want to be environmentally friendly (bio will save the planet). Etcetera.
You need to address this by making sure that your customers are always the hero of the stories you want them to spread. As different customers have different motivations, this also means you may need more than one type of story.
3. The story needs to be easy to tell
Finally, your customers need words to talk about your brand. This may sound obvious, but it's not always easy to make conversation about a brand. At least not without sounding like an engineer, or a snob. Just think about it. Can you explain how that shiny new hybrid car saves you money? Or how those branded vitamin pills really help your body?
You need to give your customers a language to talk about your brand which doesn't require jargon or knowledge of your industry. Not by dumbing things down, but by using words and emotions that are relevant to their lives. That they can care about.
These three components still don't guarantee that the world starts talking about you. But they will surely get you on the way. At least IF your customers are so happy that they are willing to be your ambassadors.
If they're not, don't bother with anything I just wrote.
About this blog
Whenever inspiration strikes, I use this space to share my thoughts on customer experience management, storytelling or what ever else crosses my mind.