Destination Loyalty Tied to Engagement

Note: I’ve taken it upon myself to change references to “customers” to be “clients.” Read my Client vs. Customer: Your Mindset Matters article to discover why. I’ve also taken perspectives provided about interactions with companies or businesses and applied them to places, since these same principles are just as relevant to destination client loyalty.

“In today’s crowded marketplace, creating loyal, engaged clients is more important —- and more challenging — than ever,” says Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty 360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association.

I say the challenge is comparable to a competitive game of tug-of-war, where you may be aiming to pull your target clients in one direction but they may have an edge in pulling your loyalty-building initiatives in another direction.

Johnson predicted 11 key trends would dominate the Loyalty Marketing Industry a couple years ago . I’ve highlighted two that focus specifically on client engagement, and are relevant to visitor and resident engagement:

Relevancy will be a key driving force of client loyalty, engagement. Today’s clients want loyalty programs to be “about me” — individual, relevant, meaningful, etc. Personally relevant deals are the second most frequently chosen reason for spending more with a company [or at a destination], mentioned by 48% of people, according to new research by Ipsos Mori and The Logic Group. Data collection and usage is extremely important in building relevancy. Brands need to use the information they collect strategically to show clients they’re listening and give them what they’re asking for.

Goal of client loyalty initiatives will be to engage clients. Marketers now realize that although spend and number of transactions are important, client engagement is the holy grail for loyalty initiatives. Because with engagement comes loyalty, advocacy, trust, passion —- the soft side of the client relationships that directly impacts the bottom line.

Knowing why your audience cares is as important as knowing what they care about, feels Erica Friedman, President of Yurikon LLC in New York, creator of “Microniche Marketing” (TM), a process that harnesses social media by finding your audience – engaging your audience – rewarding your market , and author of SocialOptimized. “Be the resource for info and perspective in your field,” she says.

In 2011, Mike Cholak, consulting practice executive at Convergys, provided his Top Ten Customer Engagement Tips. “What we’ve learned about delivering a superior customer experience in the past year is well worth building upon in the coming year,” said Cholak. He provided ten tips gleaned from their proprietary research on the client experience, and their client management work with Fortune 500 companies in the communications, technology, banking and financial services, retail and e-commerce, and health care industries.”

Here, I’ve selected four of Cholak’s tips that I feel are most relevant when branding places:

  1. Listen to the voice of the client and amplify it throughout your organization or destination. Your employees and destination stakeholders need to be as sensitive to the current state of service as are your clients.
    77% of clients said that in the past year the quality of client service provided has stayed the same or gotten worse, while 50% of employees [stakeholders] at those companies providing the experience think service has improved.
  2. Aggressively promote the fact that you want feedback. You want to know when you get it wrong. And, make it easy for clients to contact you.
    41% of clients who did not bother to report their bad experience (34% defected without saying a word) said they did not bother because there was no convenient way to report it to the offending company [ or place].
  3. Listen to and engage clients on social media.
    80% of clients who had a bad experience took their story to the court of public opinion, and 12% used social media to amplify their voice. On average, an individual using social media reached 45 people with their individual tweets or postings. And, for those clients who could recall reading about a friend or colleague’s bad experience, 62% said they avoided doing business with or stopped doing business with that company [or place]. Social media will play a greater role in client care as the Millennial generation and those who follow it increasingly gravitate to this communication medium to create communities, share their experiences, and express their opinions.
  4. Invest in the experience and don’t lose clients, because you likely won’t ever get them back.
    Only 16% of clients who left a company [or place] after a bad experience said they would be willing to do business with [or visit] that company [or place] again if some effort were made to win them back. Don’t burn the bridge by not providing the best experiences, and don’t focus so much on diverting your clients from helpful agents that you damage the relationship. Millennials are the most forgiving (40% willing to reconsider), while Gen-Xers (16%) present some opportunity and offended Boomers (4%) and Seniors (2%) are nearly impossible to sway and incentivize.

Sharon Bailly, Owner at TWP Marketing and Technical Communications in New Hampshire said in a LinkedIn group discussion a couple years ago, “Too many companies [or places] think they are communicating with the client when they are merely knee deep in a monologue about how wonderful their company [or place] is.” Listening to and engaging with your target audience is key when trying to establish loyal clients for your business or loyal visitors, residents, and businesses when building loyalty for your place or destination. It’s not about what you think or how you want to say it, it’s about what’s being said about you and how you respond to it.

Do you agree that these tips and principles for fostering business loyalty are equally applicable to fostering destination loyalty? Do you have any other suggestions for better client engagement when it comes to building client loyalty for places?

photo credit: jasoneppink via photopin cc