Building brand advocacy

Building brand advocacy

4 minutes
Building brand advocacy

I bought the chest of drawers from a company that I have admired for a long time. I follow them on social media and am a big fan of their brand so I was really looking forward to buying something from them. So, after browsing the homeware section I hit the 'buy now' button and eagerly awaited for my new piece of furniture to arrive.

When it turned up I noticed immediately that it was going to be hard to assemble because the design instructions were so minimal. Even more frustratingly, there were additional bits of wood that were not needed. Suffice to say, when you live in a small flat in London this is far from ideal. From that moment, my perception of the brand was beginning to take a negative turn - in my opinion the aspirational brand that I'd been following online wasn't really living up to its name in the post-purchase experience.

A few days later the company asked me for my feedback on their product. I happily gave it only to be met with silence. I did eventually get a reply, but it was a simple 'sorry' a few weeks later. That was it. As you can imagine, I felt pretty let down by the experience and instead of becoming an advocate of the brand and telling all my mates to buy from them, I became quite disheartened with the brand and their story.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it shows the power of the little details we might not always focus on during the customer journey. The brand had done a lot of hard work in securing my custom and making me feel valued, but where was the effort when I became a customer? Surely this is the time to capture repeat business and word of mouth referrals?

While this particular example wasn't intentional, I think it could have been easily resolved and I think it highlights that if left unattended, minor issues in communication can lead to major fallouts. But, experiences like mine can be easily identified and corrected to improve brand perception. Amazon is a great example of a brand that's constantly testing and improving its user experiences, which is probably why they account for 40% of all online sales.

The lesson I've learnt from my purchase journey with the furniture company is that people can very quickly go from 'love' to 'like' and more often that not it's the service that makes the difference, not the product. That's why it's so important to invest in customer interactions and building relationships. If you don't, a bad experience could easily come back to haunt you, especially considering the amount of channels there are today. We work with many of our clients to develop brand identities and a big part of this is understanding brand perception - we use social media monitoring tools to get underneath the skin of what's being said and what people think. This can also be a great way to track progress and marginal gains.

On the subject of marginal gains, it's worth considering the story of Team Sky. The team changed the face of British cycling by making incremental changes that led to big improvements. They looked at every component, from the bikes and kit to hydration and cool down, and repeated the process to keep improving what they do. And I think their strategy is one that a lot of brands could adopt.

You're probably doing this within your marketing already but, like in the case of the furniture company, are there some gaps in your strategy? And could you make marginal gains?

Are you building brand advocacy at every stage of the customer journey? Are you telling a story through a content marketing strategy and continuing to take your customers on that story, even after they've purchased from you? Do you have a distinctive tone of voice that resonates with your customers and matches the online and offline experience? Do you ask your customers for feedback? And do you act on it?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this so head over to Twitter or LinkedIn and let me know what you think. We're also hosting a roundtable lunch on this topic so if you or a member of your team would like to come along then contact us.

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Frank Whiffen
Frank Whiffen
Frank is in the fortunate position of looking after marketing for a marketing agency. He has been agency side for ten years working across a range of sectors, from investor comms through to food and drink. Before that he marketed chocolate (whilst resisting the urge not to devour the stock).
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