Any successful business knows that turning customers into repeat customers is of paramount importance. But companies with true marketing savvy don’t merely get customers coming back for more — they turn them into champions for their brand. The latest research shows that consumers now trust word-of-mouth recommendations from families, friends and followers over marketing messages from companies or brands more than ever , meaning that businesses with the most loyal and vocal communities often come out on top.
But that’s easier said than done, right? Not so fast.
Marketers invariably overthink what it takes to turn customers into champions. In fact, companies spend countless hours and resources developing elaborate social media campaigns in the hopes of building social engagement and, in turn, their bottom lines. But the truth is: “Likes” don’t equal dollars. Most social media campaigns persuade some at best, and offend many at worst.
According to social media specialist Peter Shankman, the not-so-big secret to developing communities that are local and vocal can be simply to provide a customer experience that’s above average — which in many cases, exceeds expectations.
“The concept of ‘Liking’ ‘Friending,’ ‘Following,’ and ‘Fanning’ is going away,” says Shankman, keynote speaker at last month’s Social and the Customer Intimacy Imperative. “If you go to a restaurant a lot, you don’t need to ‘Like’ it, because clearly, you already do. The key for companies is to create an exceptional customer service experience, or as is often the case, an experience that merely reaches one level above what’s expected.”
Marketers who still believe champions are won on social media fail to understand its purpose. Social is the world’s greatest forum, focus group and digital water cooler. It provides companies with a fire hose of insights directly from their audiences that are essential to improving products, narrowing marketing focuses or responding to issues – especially if the right monitoring and analytics tools are used. But when it comes to winning new customers, the word-of-mouth endorsement is still king. And when it comes to turning customers into champions, nothing takes the place of superior customer service.