Fight for Your Right…To Keep Your Customers

Brand competitors are just one click away from engaging even your most loyal customers. Not even the world’s most powerful brands are immune to this evolving reality. More than half of shoppers said they would pay a higher price for a valued customer experience, and 77 percent of shoppers said they would actually be more loyal to those that provide a tailored customer experience. Similarly, 61 percent of consumers will tell friends and family about their experiences.

With so much at stake, the following brands have taken a “spare no expense” approach to generously invest in the consumer experience up front, with all but a guaranteed ROI on the horizon:

Taco Bell’s Speedo Surprise
The Taco Bell Facebook page – home to more than 9.5 million fans – received a request from a high school swimmer (and self-proclaimed Taco Bell super fan), for a customized Taco Bell Speedo that reads, “Outside the Buns” on the back. Three weeks later, Taco Bell responded to his request, asking the boy for his size and address. The rest is history…

Morton’s Steak at the Gate
A gentleman was tied up in out-of-town meetings all day and although he was hungry, he was running behind for his flight home. He tweeted about it, asking Morton’s Steakhouse to meet him with a steak upon landing. Morton’s saw the tweet and sent a tuxedoed staff member to Newark Airport to greet him with a steak – free of charge – just outside of baggage claim.

‘Tis the Season…Kind for No Reason
For some, there’s nothing more stressful than figuring out what to buy friends and family for the holidays. REI took to YouTube to assist individual shoppers they noticed were feeling the pressures of holiday shopping. The outdoor retailer’s social and creative teams partnered with REI’s store associates to create customized videos that contained gift suggestions in response to tweets containing the hashtag #giftpicks. According to Fast Company, the campaign doubled traffic to the REI site.

Take a Trip on Toyota
Few things are more picturesque than a car commercial. For an outdoorsman named James, those car commercials sparked an idea – he and his girlfriend began planning a much anticipated cross-country excursion. They mapped out a route that would require traveling 9,000 miles in just 49 days and, inspired by what he saw on television, James asked himself, “why not ask a car company to donate a car for our trip, what’s the worst that could happen?” Well, that’s exactly what he did. And after dozens of rejection letters from various car manufacturers, they received a note from Toyota offering them a Rav4 Hybrid for their adventure at no cost.  Luckily for us, James and his girlfriend documented their entire journey!

Irritatingly Generous
When a young fan woke up to an empty cereal box, he decided to take matters into his own hands (literally) and tweet about it. Just when he thought he’d have to start his day without his favorite cereal, Edge Shave Gel came to the rescue. The brand sent him “enough cereal to make sure he doesn’t run out again for a very long time.” Over the next few months, more than 200 people benefited from similar acts of kindness from the EdgeShaveZone Twitter account – everything from iPads and computers to megaphones and dancing panda.

As part of Edge’s Anti-Irritation Campaign, a team of two devotes its full-time efforts to seeking, responding to, and relieving “irritation” across Twitter, most of which was crafted using Edge’s #soirritating hashtag. One woman tweeted that she had Spanish speaking voices in her head, so Edge sent her a Spanish/English dictionary.

While it’s clear some brands will stop at nothing to enhance the consumer experience, surprisingly 68 percent of companies allocate less than 20 percent of their marketing budgets to brand loyalty programs. Yet, 58 percent of companies credit more than 20 percent of total revenue to brand loyalty programs. When it comes to investment value and ROI, one thing’s for sure: the numbers don’t lie. The world is more socially connected than ever before and soon enough, failure to invest in the customer experience will serve as a serious barrier to long term success.