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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A New Benefit for Customer Loyalty: Emergency Evacuation!

Along with the terrible pictures out of Texas of Hurricane Harvey in recent weeks also came some wonderful heart-warming stories of people helping friends and complete strangers.  One of those stories referred to Chick-fil-A.  The uniqueness of this account reminded us of the conclusions we drew about the company from a review we previously wrote of that company’s very different approach to increasing customer loyalty and retention.


Not Your Average Customer Loyalty Program

Chick-fil-A enjoys tremendous customer loyalty but the chain doesn’t follow the crowd with a traditional loyalty points or miles program.  Instead Chick-fil-A has created what it calls their “A-list” program.  Customers cannot just sign-up for membership.  Most don’t even know the program exists – it’s open by invitation only.  Participation in the program begins with local management identifying individuals they have come to recognize as frequent customers (and often know by name). Those individuals are personally handed a written invitation. They then go online and complete a membership form providing their name, email address, date of birth, and other information such as their favorite sports team, etc..
 

What Benefits Does Participation Normally Provide?

Once registered these valued customer begin to receive customized rewards and communications from their local Chick-fil-A restaurant.  Activities are completely under the control of the local manager and can range from A-list member group dinners in the restaurant, to tours of the kitchen, to participation in a neighborhood cleanup, or serving as an informal board of directors offering advice to the local franchisee. While corporate does offer suggestions, programs are totally controlled at the local level.  Invitations can be offered to anywhere from a handful of customers at some locations to hundreds of recognized loyal customers at another.  Last week however, a Houston store manager took loyalty to a new level.

Extraordinary Situation; Extraordinary Benefits

So what happened last week? The Spencers (that’s Linda and J.C.) are regulars at their local Chick-fil-A. We aren’t sure if they are A-list members, but they certainly fit the profile. The Spencers reported that they were okay for the first couple of days of Hurricane Harvey, but things took a turn for the worse on Monday when their home began to fill with water. So J.C. called the local Chick-fil-A, and the manager sent a boat (actually a couple of Jet skis) to help evacuate them.

“We had to get out of there so I called Chick-fil-A, now that sounds kind of funny,” J.C. Spencer said in an interview on Good Morning America Wednesday. “I ordered two grilled chicken burritos with extra egg and {almost jokingly added "and a boat"].  Much to our surprise and relief, one of the managers sent her husband to pick us up - in his boat!  We are so grateful.”

Certainly not a typical benefit of a loyalty program, but exemplary of the unique corporate culture and keen understanding of customer lifetime value that Chick-fil-A has created among its employees.

3:26 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

World Wide Reputations and Their Impact for Word of Mouth

When we advise marketers that to increase recommendations and word of mouth for their brands they need to provide motivation, content and opportunity, we frequently hear the response, that’s a great idea, but HOW?
 
A study of the international reputations of companies, conducted by the Reputation Institute (RI) and reported in Quirk’s Survey Monitor, June 2017,
(https://www.quirks.com/articles/survey-monitor-june-2017) offers a flood of ideas about how to build one’s reputation – and from our point of view how to also build positive word of mouth. RI’s 2017 RepTrak 100 report identifies the most reputable brands in the world.  Findings are based on more than 42,000 respondents’ feelings about 800 companies.  RI claims to have quantified the linkages between reputation and various behaviors including willingness to: purchase a company’s products, recommend a brand, invest in or even work for a company.
 
The RI questionnaire asks consumers to rate brands on seven factors which RI says comprise reputation, with the following percentages indicating their relative influence as ‘drivers of reputation’:
          
19.3% - Products and Services
          14.5% - Governance
          13.7% - Citizenship
          13.6% - Innovation
          13.3% - Performance
          13.2% - Workplace
          12.4% - Leadership


Want Some Specific Positives?

One big gainer in the RepTrak 100 rankings this year was Kimberly-Clark. The company’s strong focus on CSR with key initiatives around sourcing sustainability and product donations, plus product innovation helped to drive Kimberly-Clark’s “excellent” rating.
 
A strong improvement was also enjoyed by Google.  According to RI they enjoyed a notable ranking increase by focusing on sustainability and donations to charity in lieu of employee-bonuses.
 
We imagine that to achieve such advances in their rankings both Kimberly-Clark and Google likely promoted their good efforts.  Hopefully that promotion included well-crafted communication to their loyal customers and employees (though we don’t know that they took full advantage of those potential advocates and ambassadors.   Perhaps they missed that opportunity.)


On the Negative Side

Not surprisingly, RI reports that Samsung dropped from #3 to #63 in the top 100 ranking based on the headlines about its Galaxy Note 7s catching on fire and the subsequent recall. Other companies that fell in the rankings were American Express and Yahoo! (Yahoo’s decline no doubt a result of the long delays in Verizon’s acquisition of the web portal as well as its reported series of data breaches.)
 
Ironically, these declines in reputation might possibly have been blunted by communicating more effectively with loyal customers and employees thereby allowing them to generate their own flood of supportive word of mouth.

An Insight from the RepTrak 100 Report
From our point of view the categories of RI's model suggest some great thought-starters for those charged with developing content for more active and effective customer advocates and employee brand ambassadors. Don't assume that customers and employees have sufficient information across these categories! Be they customers or employees (see our recent article,
"Employees: Your Best Brand Ambassadors?") your potential advocates need specific stories about your brand’s efforts in: innovation, product quality, citizenship, and more.  With this sort of information they'll be 'armed' to write or speak to their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers and followers about your brand.  They need your help.

2:40 pm edt          Comments

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Customer Experience Partners, LLC
Measurement, Management, Optimization
Contact us at: 203-655-0090 or
pruden@customerexperiencepartners.com

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