With the propagation of innovative content and target marketing, e-newsletters, and social media outreach, it’s easy to overlook the brands that nurture and build their brand base through good old-fashioned upfront, in-person investment.
It’s a pretty simple scenario: give a small service for free and create goodwill to nurture a returning, loyal customer.
It’s a sinking feeling to walk out to your car and realize you have a flat tire, and I experienced that special feeling on last weekend. I changed my tire the following and expected the worst when I took it in to Discount Tire. I anticipated more sinking feelings to surface when it came time to pay the bill; instead, I walked out only an hour later with a patched tire and no bill.
Discount Tire didn’t charge me for the time and labor it took to repair and reattach the tire; they just smiled and asked that when I need new tires, I come to them, which I certainly will.
I didn’t walk out of there happy just because I didn’t have to pay a bill – I felt satisfied because Discount Tire seemed to be a brand that’s not just aiming for transactions, but aiming to foster goodwill and make all the special car feelings a little less frustrating. Instead of seeking transactions for small services they could charge for, they take the long view that happy customers make repeat customers.
I mentioned this to my dad, an admitted curmudgeon and the one who told me to go to Discount Tire, and he told me: “Discount Tire deprives me of things to complain about. Fortunately, there are still politicians.”
In an age where people take to Twitter to complain about brands, it’s a huge achievement to provide a complaint-free experience, and immensely notable to provide a positive one. I didn’t tweet Discount Tire (until publishing this blog) because as a marketer, I feel that experiencing positive programs warrants something more substantive than 140 characters.
While it’s impossible to make everyone totally satisfied all the time, Discount Tire shows that their business model is centered on the customer experience and leaving a positive impression, and it’s come back to them many-fold. Forbes lists its 2013 revenue as $3.7 billion and it’s number 118 on the Forbes list of America’s Largest Private Companies.
It’s not every organization that can give away a product or service for free, but there are plenty of great examples: Sephora’s rewards program is a classic loyalty program that stands out because they give out high-quality samples the customer can choose after a certain attainable spending threshold. Trader Joe’s provides free coffee – a real perk when you’re shopping after a long day at work.
Capturing brand loyalty can seem like a formidable task in a time when everyone’s throwing out lower prices, more deals, and more rewards programs. But it’s important not to forget the simple act of treating your customers with goodwill and creating a good impression – because that goodwill will return to you in the form of their business and their brand advocacy.