Why should I be brand loyal?

“You’ve worked even harder than we imagined you would – have some more money”.

 “You didn’t use as much as we thought you would – have some money back”

I think it’s fair to say that we’d like to hear these types of things on a regular basis. Not because we are getting something for nothing but because it’s fair – it’s the right thing to do.

The key thing behind these two statements – and what makes them a little unusual – is that their main focus is…me…the customer….the end-use… (call it what you will). Quite often, brand messages focus on the brand. So, typically,  “we are a great place to work because______” or “our service leaves the competition standing…”. Both of which are probably quite true but – in essence – these brand messages promote & justify the status quo. True enough there are implicit “user” benefits in there, but the primary purpose is for them to tell you how good they are (just in case you were feeling a little hard-done-by by paying too much for example.)

But, going back to the “me” focus for a while. It genuinely makes me take notice when a brand seems to be thinking about me – about what they can really do for me, what they can do to improve a service or give me a better product.

I got a text the other day from Orange. It read:

Hi from Orange. Best Plan is our free service that reviews your mobile usage every 6 months to make sure you’re getting the best value. We’ve just completed your review and you could save money by switching to your recommended Orange talk plan. Visit Orange.co.uk/bp for details. Terms apply.”

I suppose the reason that this has some resonance with me is that it seemed to form part of a genuinely empathetic strategy: “they seem to be thinking about things from my perspective”.

It’s very common for people to shop around (especially in the telco sector) but the reality is that people probably don’t quite have the time. And when they do get round to it, the chances are they will leave for another provider (especially if they get approached by the other provider). But I think that this particular strategy will go some way into ensuring that their brand loyalty stays pretty strong. And one of the reasons for that loyalty/retention is down to simplicity: “they did the thinking for me”.

On a similar cost-saving note, my recent experiences with BT show that they can be quite flexible but I can’t help feeling that they don’t do simplicity very well. For example, it’s pretty difficult to email them if I don’t have my long account number handy (when I get the urge to email them, I generally don’t have a copy of my phone bill handy!)  When I eventually get through by calling them, they are flexible inasmuch as they will reduce my direct debit amount down to the amount that I want to or should pay (which makes sense given that I rarely use a landline any more & I get a ton of credit balances). But somewhat annoyingly they do have a habit of increasing the amount arbitrarily again afterwards when you aren’t looking (apparently the computer does it). So you need to call them and go through it all again!

Anyway, just looking at these two scenarios, it’s pretty clear to me that brands can give themselves a significant advantage over their competitors when they can show clear empathy: think about me, do something for me, make things easier, make things cheaper.  They don’t have to be big things. The example I gave above isn’t exactly ground breaking but it does go some way towards making me look at that brand in a slightly different light: a little bit of positivity.

Actually maybe it IS a big thing example. Orange apparently have 144 million customers worldwide. If this approach means they retain 5% of customers that they would otherwise have lost. That’s a hell of lot of business!

So, simple lesson here really: think about me and I will like you and I might stay with you. Make it hard for me and I won’t necessarily leave you but you’ll make it easier for me to do so.

Now, if only Orange would ring me with an offer to replace my BT landline and broadband…