How responsive brands win customer loyalty

Not that long ago, we heard the story behind Federal Express’s much-talked-about 1994 rebranding. Many of you may have heard this one before, but it was new to us.

Through a series of focus groups, the design firm behind Federal Express’s rebranding became aware that everyone called the company FedEx, even using the term as a verb. Few people ever had the need to utter the words “Federal Express.”

This was obvious to the customers using Federal Express’s services, but it was something the company hadn’t thought much about.

There’s a lot more to this story, and you can read all about it in this Fast Company article. But what we learned was that, as a result of customer feedback, Federal Express became FedEx and launched a brand new look around this new name. A look that is often cited as one of the most successful and creative ever designed.

What works

The FedEx story is an extreme example of how brands can benefit from responding to customer feedback.

Most of us are more concerned with responding to negative reviews on social media or online review sites. Regardless of the platform, brands that respond to feedback are being rewarded with improved customer sentiment and increased business.

It isn’t always easy to decide how to respond. We find it helps to think about how you would deal with a customer who took the time to give you feedback in person.

With positive feedback, your response would likely be simple. You would say thanks and let the customer know you appreciate their feedback. Negative feedback is clearly less fun to deal with, but it still calls for a quick and thoughtful response.

Survey data from Bazaarvoice shows what happens when a brand responds to feedback in a thoughtful way. It makes customers feel that your brand cares about consumers (41%), has great customer service (35%), is trustworthy (22%) and sells high-quality products (14%). (Source: Infographic: How consumers reward responsive brands.)

What’s considered a thoughtful response? Brands that fared best offered to refund, upgrade or exchange a product. Customers who saw that response were 90% more likely to purchase from that brand.

Brands that responded by suggesting an additional step, like calling customer service, were only slightly less well received, with 89% of people being more likely to purchase from that brand.

And what doesn’t work

Again, let’s think about a costumer who offers negative feedback in person. You might not agree with their feedback, and you might use it to start a conversation. But you wouldn’t ignore them or, worse, belittle them in any way.

Doing so on social media is no more acceptable, and could set you up for an online backlash.

Don’t delete negative feedback from your website or social media channels in an effort to make your brand look good. First of all, it’s just not the right thing to do. Second of all, it’s far too easy for a customer to take screenshots of a deleted conversation and share them widely.

Obvious trolling is a separate issue. It can be smart to ignore or even delete troll-like comments to provide the best experience for your real customers.

But even with trolls, don’t take a defensive approach by insulting these commenters or calling them out. It’s not worth the time, and it will only leave your real customers with a negative impression of your brand.

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