Think of a brand that you have nothing but positive things to say about. Conjure elements up of the company, its products or services, the logo, maybe the last time you had to jump on a customer service call with them. For fairly commonplace reasons you like them probably because you got what you expected—maybe even a little extra.
Now, consider the last time you told a friend about the brand. Maybe suggesting their website or praising their customer service. Perhaps you took an Instagram photo of your new product, telling more than enough friends what you love about it.
Congrats. You have labeled yourself a superuser. Without explicitly asking you to do so, this brand has turned you into a banner carrier and you are proud to do so.
Technically this term applies to a computer system user with special privileges to administer and maintain systems. However, it can also be used to indicate being part of a fan club, a word-of-mouth maker and social media shaker for the brand.
These brand evangelists will be a minority for your company, but can make a major impact.
Now, wherever you are in your organization—the president, the director of HR, marketing associate, sales rep—consider how you as a collective force inspire superusers. Are there a lot or none to be had? Regardless there is room for growth. At what points of contact can this be improved?
It will not be easy, but with a deep dive into what can be changed you can more authentically serve your customer and the more superusers will emerge. Get in front of the competition now because by the year 2020, customer experience (50 points out of 100) will rise above product (34 points) and price (16 points) as the key brand differentiator, according to Walker.
Superusers, like superheroes, are not born overnight. Their powers will also not immediately reveal themselves and influence will not always be clearly attributed, but they can do major heavy lifting when it comes to loyal, free advertising.
Before your cheerleaders will want to raise their cheer on your behalf, the foundation of the pyramid must be laid. That foundation lies internally in the company. Ensure the brand mission, goal and talking points are distributed and reinforced throughout all employees.
Yes, the customer service department is the expert in problem solving, but everyone in the organization can and should represent a similar quality of service. Some customers may interact with the company often but never speak with a customer service representative. This is where you break down the labels on job descriptions and encourage a deep understanding of the company’s DNA.
One of the largest avenues for contact with the consumer will be on social media, if your company has an active presence. Consumers often feel comfortable and expect fast responses when Facebook messaging, Tweeting or reviewing the brand on Yelp. Of course any retail or brick and mortar store will include the sales and transaction process as an important avenue for contact.
A third opportunity for upgraded contact will be from submissions through the website. Instead of replying with an automatic response and placing customers in a queue for customer service, consider the role of one agent to offer a personalized response and to each submission prior to forwarding to the appropriate department.
If a customer does have a complaint or issue this can be the golden opportunity. Rarely will people remember the original issue, but they will remember kindness, understanding, good listening, empathy and basic assistance.
The best way to leverage superusers is to know who and where they are. By combining big data points of active social media users, industry bloggers, return buyers and positive reviewers identify the contact information for your current and prospective superusers. Do not just observe these conversations and transactions…engage with them. Keep a shortlist of these users and update when possible.
Also, keep in mind that company employees have the potential to be the best brand evangelists. If employees feel accurately compensated, have a good working relationship with colleagues and feel a sense of satisfaction about their work they will be more likely to tout their company to others.
Content, challenged and happy employees will also be able to better interact with dissatisfied customers to turn the viewpoint around.
This is not a new principle; in 1999 the Harvard Business Review published a piece, “The Employee-Customer-Profit Chain at Sears.” The Sears example found that a 5-point improvement in employee attitude drove customer satisfaction up 1.3 points, translating to a 0.5 percent revenue improvement.
Brand advocates will often be your best, available window into the mind of a customer when actively trying to engage more customers at a deeper level. Tap into this resource through incentivized surveys and fun, engaging campaigns that welcome customer insights.
On multiple checkpoints bring the business base into play by exhibiting and reiterating the established values, goals and mission.
Identify potential superusers by giving consumers the opportunity to delve deeper into the brand. A takeaway call-to-action in the form of print or digital collateral that invites a follow-up action will offer you another opportunity to connect.
Superusers will be happy to amp up the volume of your brand’s products and services if you give them the tools and space to do so. If customers feel like they have the appreciated opportunity to give their opinion on a good product, they will do so.
According to Dimensional Research, 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Those super users are valuable.
Be sure to offer up clearly defined ways and reasons to get involved with the brand. Know that people are not always looking for a prize or a payout. While these are encouraging if the budget is tight use the incentive of recognition and a title. Consider a branded “club” that your brand evangelists will want to be a part of—something exclusive, with legitimate perks.
Consider the women’s fashion ecommerce brand Modcloth. They built their brand on body positivity and customers responded. Modcloth encourages product reviews on product descriptors, pictures, and the all-mighty video. The return engagement by giving shout-outs to customers interacting, wearing their products.
When your retail presence is solely ecommerce, you need to show how customers can interact with products. Give them a reason to buy despite them not being able to physically try your products out first.
AirBNB offers a code for users to share. It offers the friend $25 off when they book a room and the code giver an equal $25 off. If the friend decides to host their home the code giver receives $75.
You have established, identified and engaged your primary customers. But, like any relationship this is not one shot and it is done. Give out perks intermittently and unexpectedly wrapped into larger bottom line initiatives.
If at all possible have representatives on the ground in key areas. The more face-to-face friendly contact the better as it is the personal touch that can make all the difference. Brand-centric events, such as Kinfolk Magazine’s global events tie into the magazine’s quarterly theme, by taking content off the page and into real life.
Handwritten notes to your superusers with each purchase can feel like it is a gift from a friend (consider taking cues from small business artisans on Etsy). Give out short and sweet messages on social through regramming, retweeting and reposting where appropriate.
A study by McKinsey and Company found that 70 percent of purchase experiences are based around how a customer feels they are being treated. It is a golden rule, but treat your customers like your favorite brand treats you and they will be happy to wave your flag.
People love to feel loved and putting a personal face to your brand through multiple customer service points is an exceptional way to disperse that love.
Image credit: Shutterstock