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May 9, 2016
Customer Service  |  5 min read

To Build Customer Engagement and Loyalty, Fill in this Blank

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Brandon Carter

Fill in the blank: To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to _________.

What’s in the blank?

What you fill in that blank with is your best shot at customer loyalty. It’s what you need to put customers on a collision course with from the moment they first purchase.

Here are some sample essential actions you may have experienced for yourself recently:

  • To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to add at least six movies or TV series to their queue.
  • To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to create at least one music playlist.
  • To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to visit my restaurant at least twice, try an appetizer, and a dessert.
  • To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to connect with fellow members and use a member benefit.
  • To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to sign up for my email list.
  • To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to recognize that my values are in line with theirs.

Engagement and loyalty require the customer to recognize the value of your service for themselves. They have to know how you exceed their expectations for themselves.

Each one of the examples cited above begins with an action like add, create, and connect.

Even recognize is an action of sorts. Companies like Patagonia and Whole Foods place high value on expressing their core values to customers in every exposure.

The sooner you can get customers to take that action, the better chance you have at retaining them long-term.

No product or service stands alone

The blank is almost never filled with “just buy” or “just join” or “just give it a shot.” The product or service that builds customer engagement simply by existing with no user input doesn’t exist. There’s always going to be a “because” statement that qualifies a customer’s loyalty.

  • We love our smartphones because we buy apps and connect with friends.
  • We keep paying for video streaming services because we get sucked into great series.
  • We can’t get get rid of our music streaming service because we’ve built some fantastic playlists on it.
  • We buy the same brand of jeans because one pair holds up for three years.
  • We remain members of a professional association because of the member benefits and the community we’re plugged into.

Nothing builds engagement and loyalty on its own. The customer has to recognize the value in a service, to make it personal. Only then do they become attached to it.

What is your essential action? If you don’t know, ask your engaged customers. What keeps them in the fold? What was their moment of loyalty?

It could be “When I brought my family in and the kids loved the food,” or “The new business connections I made from going to the membership meeting,” or “I like how you support rainforest protection.”

Once you know what your essential action is, your goal is to set customers on the path to it immediately. In software and membership models, among others, this is called onboarding.

Essential action onboarding

You’ve probably experienced essential action onboarding before.

When you first sign up for Twitter, the service basically forces you to find friends and celebrities to follow. The more interesting people you follow out of the gate, the more likely you are to keep coming back.

The same thing with LinkedIn and Facebook. Both insist on getting into your contacts so that they can show you how many of your friends are already on the service.

Points programs (that aren’t into breakage) will offer new members a high-value reward for a few points just for signing up. They know most members will then snoop through the rest of the catalog and see what other value the program has to offer.

Professional associations don’t just show members how to get value, they walk them through it. They help them sign up for the community forums and get new members to introduce themselves to their peers. They take them to the benefits website and show them the 50 percent offer at the diner in their neighborhood. The associations do this because they know that benefits and connectivity are key to long-term engagement with the greater goals of membership.

If building customer loyalty at your restaurant, for example, is getting them to come back three times, offer a deal. The cost of a free dessert isn’t important, getting them to take that essential action is what matters.

To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to _________.

Identifying and pulling customers toward your essential actions isn’t guaranteed to capture loyalty. There are no guarantees for that. As we’ve said before, bringing customers in is easy compared to the commitment required to keep them.

But filling in the blank with an essential action is necessary to give your business its best shot at capturing your fair share of customers. Your business, your product, your brand can’t do it alone. The customers have to do it for themselves—you just need to show them the way.

This article was written by Brandon Carter from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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