Turning Relationships in to Brand Advocacy
One company that has an enormous base of raving fans and does an excellent job of keeping them coming back for more is the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. I know from personal experience about their fans because each and everyone of my friends (and their friends) that are from the South go on and on about the place constantly. During a trip I recently took to Virginia a couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of having my first Chick-fil-A experience. Now normally I am not a big fan of fast food, but I will say my experience there was nothing short of incredible. There are many things that this company does that allows them to create these raving fans and keep them raving on, but below I believe are three most crucial to developing these relationships.
The first, is something that I noticed moments after I walked through the restaurant door. The customer service. I had never seen so many employees with such big smiles on their faces in fast food restaurant in my life before. Each person behind the counter and out on the floor was either helping someone with their order or thanking someone for coming to the restaurant the entire time I was there. The employees were also extremely polite not only to customers but also to one another, despite the long lines and full cafeteria. Personally, this made my experience much more enjoyable and had me feeling comfortable instead of feeling rushed to eat my food and get out the door. It was truly a great experience from a customer standpoint and I will never forget it nor hesitate to tell anyone about it if the topic comes up.
The second, and probably the most important, thing that Chick-fil-A does exceeding well with is the food itself. Aside from just being extremely tasty, the quality and preparation of the food was also top notch. Almost everyone can remember a time where they went to a restaurant and had a bad experience with their food. Chances are usually pretty good that, that person will not return to that restaurant for quite sometime, if not for as long as it exists. People become raving fans and advocates of Chick-fil-A often based on the food alone and that’s why they continue to have a thriving fan base.
Lastly, Chick-fil-A is on top of their game in one area that has become essential to managing customer relationships over the last 5 years, social media. With over 7 million fans on their Facebook page and almost 300,000 followers on their Twitter account, Chick-fil-A has instant access to reaching a wide range of their fan base. This allows them to engage with these fans and that’s exactly what they do. Whether it is updating relevant content regularly to their pages to keep fans interested and active, or answering questions and attending to customer complaints head on, Chick-fil-A is on top it. It appears that they have an impressive handle on their social media presence and that is exactly what a company needs today to succeed in advancing ordinary customers into brand advocates.
Return on investment or return on relationship?
Today in the social media landscape people often ask the question “Which is more important, ROI or ROR? I agree with Ted Rubin in that brands should put less emphasis on ROI in the social space and focus more on what the customer relationship is doing for them. Sure, you can assign a dollar value to each customer that buys from you once because of your social media marketing, but what’s more important is building a relationship with them so they not only purchase from you multiple times but tell others about your brand as well.
In this great article, Ted Rubin is quoted saying “Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become.” Brands must see the long term value of building strong, individual customer relationships instead of focusing on how much money they are making off each customer from their initial investments. They need to put more emphasis on how to engage their customers consistently in order to develop those relationships. Rubin also says “PATIENCE is the KEY to Social success. Patience is required to build Trust and Loyalty. ROR takes time.” As you can see, the return from building relationships is not something that can be seen overnight. However, in the long run, developing that relationship by conversing with customers and allowing them to feel like they have a part in everything will be far more powerful than bringing in one time buyers from a social media advertisement.