Don Smith, EVP Chief Consulting Officer, Brierley, recently hosted a webinar to discuss the topic of emotional loyalty. This in-depth discussion included first-hand accounts from Hugo Munday, Director, Customer Service, ThriftBooks; Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard, Collaborative Innovator General, Bal Harbour Shops; and Michelle DeVore, VP, Customer Experience, European Wax Center.
Customers want more from loyalty brands than coupons and points. They are looking for experiences, for unique perks to keep them engaged with the brand. To get to that emotional “loyalty beyond reason,” companies must start by earning rational loyalty.
Emotional Loyalty – Back to Basics
What does emotional loyalty look like?
Customers look forward to brand interactions.
Customers feel like the brand knows them and delivers personalized experiences.
Customers share the same values and beliefs as the brand.
Customers champion the brand.
Customers would be deeply disappointed if the brand were to disappear.
Customers forgive the brand for a bad experience and will return regardless.
To get to that point, brands must implement cutting-edge tactics that go beyond transactions. By making every interaction personal – responding to customers on a one-to-one basis, whether they are communicating a complaint or giving praise – brands begin to build rational loyalty that will grow into an emotional connection.
According to Hugo Munday at Thrift Books, brands must include all the data – good bad and ugly – because it is so much more valuable than just the transaction.
Personalized Experience is Crucial First Step Toward Emotional Loyalty
Bal Harbour Shops welcomes rewards members into their family with exclusive VIP experiences. They work with their shop partners to engage with members on a monthly basis and interact with them personally. Perks include such luxuries as champagne welcome at Prada or a Stella McCartney gift with purchase.
These interactions make guests feel special and they incentivize them to visit more often. Bal Harbor often partners with store brands to host first-class experiences and member recognition events that members do not want to miss!
Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard from Bal Harbour stresses the importance of engaging with its members wherever they are. There is one brick and mortar location, so it is vital to engage members at all touchpoints. The brand initiates new strategies often – once or twice a month – to connect with its members on an emotional level. It is what they do with the personal relationship that drives the program.
Michelle DeVore at European Wax Center is quick to point out that their business is already a very personal experience which sets the stage for an emotional connection with its guests. The Wax Specialists receive very specialized training and delivers a high-touch personal interaction with the customer.
Said DeVore, “Who better to use than the wax specialist to personalize the experience?”
When the Wax Specialist recommends a product, the customer is more inclined to make the purchase because of the personal relationship they have developed with the team member. With access to customer data at their fingertips (iPads in the rooms), the Wax Specialist is empowered to engage customer loyalty with a high touch recommendation. The face-to-face interaction is a key proponent to European Wax Center’s journey to emotional loyalty.
European Wax Center recently rebranded. After speaking with its customers about their experiences around the pandemic, they were able to create these authentic relationships with their customers and become a real, trusted brand. Customers can depend on European Wax Center for a confidential, personalized experience that Devore says gives the customer “unapologetic confidence.”
As ThriftBooks is an online only store, there is no face-to-face interaction, but as Munday points out, it does not make the experience any less emotional. The brand must establish a shared trust with its new customers immediately, especially when dealing with a secondhand product.
While ThriftBooks’ loyalty program began as a “glorified punchcard,” they have since incorporated tiers and book clubs, and more personalization efforts in delivering surprise and delight campaigns. These campaigns were significant in driving loyalty through word of mouth and social media, and brought in more customers who were interested in being rewarded and recognized in the same way.
By marrying closely with the company’s blog, social media and trust pilot reviews, they are able to drive emotional loyalty. Munday points out how the pandemic accelerated emotional loyalty because it forced brands into avenues of interaction that changed the way people shopped.
One story shared by Munday involves customers who have lost a cherished book they owned decades ago, and Thrift Books was able to reunite the customer with that specific book – the one with their own inscription written in it!
Today, the store boasts an average 98.8% 5-star reviews from Trust Pilot, but they put equal emphasis on both the poor and positive data. He stresses the need to listen to the people who are dissatisfied so you can make it right for everyone.
Like European Wax Center, Thrift Books customer service reps can view the account history of customer purchases to make personal recommendations that make the buyer feel known and valued. This type of customer service anticipates what the customer wants and builds emotional loyalty. It also allows the company to segment with a high level of detail using a combination of technology and personal interaction. Interested in learning more? Register to watch the on-demand recording of Brierley’s webinar here