These Key Approaches are Quintessential for Successful Brand-building Businesses need to give time to the sales and marketing teams, as well as the customers to analyze the brand cohesively

By Aditya Loomba

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Recently, a study by market intelligence firms IDC and LogMeIn, named "Support Services as a Competitive Differentiator' revealed that 67% of consumers think customer satisfaction was more important than the price of a product while doing business with a brand. Yet, in the same study, nearly 30% of companies still professed their undying efforts towards reducing the cost for providing support. With the old adage of "customer being the king' repeating itself, and becoming all the more relevant today, this disconnect of a significant share of companies is baffling, creating an adverse impact in the long run.

In this day and age of off-the-wall competition, words such as customer satisfaction, client retention and brand loyalty are worth their weight in gold. Every brand is ready to bend over backwards and comply with every wish of the customers, for fear of losing them to a competitor. Long-term customer engagement and client retention, however, is not achieved through a position of fear or desperation but through a focused approach that is engrained in the operations of a business. Enlisted below are 4 approaches that businesses need to understand to build an effective blueprint for enhanced customer retention and brand building.

Business Equals Customer

Although an unlikely source, Mahatma Gandhi summarizes the relationship between businesses and customers aptly. He described businesses to be completely dependent on a customer, while the latter was its sole purpose. In fact, according to him, the customer did the business a favour by giving it an opportunity to serve.

While expecting such servility is a bit far-fetched today, businesses need to realize the primary importance of the customer to its sustenance. The fundamental, and permanent interaction of a business with a customer is through a purchase action, and businesses need to begin their client retention process with the first purchase itself.

The path to any kind of purchase is long, and businesses need to focus on making this path feel shorter and convenient for the user. This approach usually involves two ways-a) The promise of a great product at the end and/or b) providing exemplary customer service along the way to make the journey more convenient. An organization that is able to perfect either of these approaches is able to generate sufficient client retention, although, with enhanced product homogenization, the second factor becomes all the more significant.

Be Constantly Changing

Recently, Amul celebrated 50 years of its famous brand icon-the "Amul girl'- a small, blue-haired, no-nose, polka-dotted frock wearing innocent little girl, cracking the wittiest of puns and one-liners on the prevalent social causes in India. Over the years, the brand has endeared itself to millions of customers, and even after facing many controversies with major political outfits and individuals, it still manages to create an impact among the readers, with a tongue-in-cheek commentary of the society seen from the wide-eyed innocence of the little one.

Amul is a prime example of a brand that has constantly revitalized its every day messaging while retaining the core of its identity. Brands today are failing at creating a fundamental image in the minds of its customers by trying to concur with the ever-changing tastes and preferences of the buyers. Entrepreneurs should prioritize creating a concept bedrock for what the brand stands for, and then adopt innovative practices that bolster and diversify the brand's reach rather than do an about –turn, confusing clients in the process, and losing out on the loyalty factor.

Many Needs to be Met

Every customer need has a specific hierarchy to it, and brands which are able to provide services that fulfill every step of it are able to retain clients easily. The process begins with identifying a set of needs, creating a product that satisfies such needs or bundling it up with other products. Creating smart, connected products has transformed competition today and in every industry, from smartphones to social media platforms, we see a race to create businesses or build products that provide every feature and service under one roof. Brands and businesses that win this race or stay ahead of the curve, can hope to create a much larger, and loyal customer base in the future.

Investment of Time, and Experience

Lastly, every business needs to go through a prolonged duration of trial and error while trying to understand what impresses its target audience. Businesses need to give time to the sales and marketing teams, as well as the customers, to analyze the brand cohesively, look at its pros and cons, and then decide to become a follower. Post acquiring a customer base, however, brands need to provide a consistent standard of service that converts followers into loyalists and then into unofficial publicists as well. With so much of paid media and unverified information making the rounds, the power of word-of-mouth brand patronage has assumed epic proportions, which businesses will be well served to tap in.

Aditya Loomba

Joint Managing Director, Eco Rent A Car

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