Archive for the ‘Brand Loyalty’ Category

Those Days are well and truly gone?

January 17, 2013
Apple Umbrellas

Handy brand ?

Those days are well and truly gone” she said with a nod that demonstrated clarity and conviction around the topic. Around the table everyone nodded their heads agreeing with the wise statement and more importantly the sentiment.

We were working on an event with some very high profile, weighty organisations. This was a planning meeting and the marketing representatives from each organisation were in attendance. The event was very progressive and was targeting attendees that were perfect for each of the participating organisations.

It sounded like a blast from the past when someone around the table suggested a “goodie bag” for the attendees. I hate that description – I immediately think of a branded plastic bag with some literature and a few bits. However I always saw the absolute sense in the “right” branded item that helps make your brand connect with the attendees.

If it is the right item and is useful and durable your brand could appear in all sorts of places being used over and over by your target audience – how bad?

The big danger is that we sit and discuss and because of the “economic climate” we too easily reject things that could make total sense without thinking properly about our objectives.

Why did we do this “stuff” before – was it because we had loads of money and we wanted to chuck it away or was it because it was simply a great idea ?

It”s pouring outside and I grab my really decent umbrella with that “logo” on it ….that brand has done a lot of travelling since the event I got it at!

A lot of what we did before made sense – those days may not be gone after all!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

It’s finding the right fit that counts!

July 17, 2012

“The Shoes”

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to shopping. For me, quality rather than quantity is the important thing, and I would prefer to spend €100 on one great item than €100 on 20 cheaper bits and pieces!

I recently bought an expensive-ish pair of shoes in Brown Thomas (got them in the sale you see!) and was happy out leaving the shop with my new purchase. So off I went to work in them on Monday morning, and by lunchtime my feet were killing me.

Now I’m persistent, and felt I could break them in, and continued to hobble around for the next few days….

The same week I came across an Irish Independent article by Peter Flanagan entitled “Mad Men shake off the downturn and discreetly pursue new clients” which addresses the changes in the PR industry in recent times, including the issue of charging clients. Reading this got me thinking about my poor feet and my new shoes….again!

Flanagan wrote “The most common rate is in the region of €210 for a senior account manager or account director. Those sorts of rates may seem exorbitant to the outsider, but for a big company it is a price worth paying if it maintains its reputation. Inevitably cost has become a bigger consideration than ever before, and that has forced prices and margins lower and lower — close to the point where the rates are unsustainable for the industry.” He adds “…Anecdotal evidence shows some agencies charging as little as €110 an hour for an account director.”

So is he saying that paying less means their service won’t be as good? That by paying the higher rate, you’re guaranteed better results? While I may have agreed with this at some point, my “shoe experience” has reinforced a recent change of opinion on my part.

It’s been almost three weeks now and they’re a little better (my persistence may be paying off), but they’re just not as good as I thought they would be. In the past I’ve bought items that have cost significantly less than “the shoes”, and are comfortable, work for me, and still serve me well. This got me thinking about how business isn’t all that different… surely it’s finding the right fit that counts!

It’s finding the right fit that counts!

Alison O’Brien is an Account Manager with Fuzion

Don’t turn off the music!

July 16, 2012
Restaurant Open

Restaurant Open?

In our businesses we put so much time and effort getting customers in the door that sometimes we forget that the same effort must be put into minding that customer once they are through the door…

Usually I leave it up to my partner Greg Canty to write our blog posts – it’s a running joke now with all of the Fuzion gang, that when Greg makes an observation we say “There’s a blog in that”, but an experience over the weekend prompted me to write about the importance of looking after a customer, once they have made that first big step, coming through the front door.

Shattered tired after driving home from West Cork, via Tipperary and Dublin (don’t ask) we were starving, not having eaten anything since morning.  It was late on a Saturday night, about 10pm, so our options were limited as to where we could get a bite to eat at that hour in Ballincollig where we live.

We opted for the local Thai restaurant, thinking they would surely be open – they were not.  Across the square we saw a restaurant that was open, flashing neon sign screamed it – as did the lit candles and beautiful check table cloths still on the outside tables.  It’s a restaurant that we haven’t been to in years, but it looked welcoming, they were obviously making an effort to attract business, so we went in through the door.

I asked, just to make sure, were they still open.  The body language of the waitress, stated that they very much weren’t and it didn’t help when she answered my question with a question – “What for?”.

We were going to leave it at that and as we were backing out of the restaurant  the owner, who was outside, followed us in and said they were very much open.

The restaurant had an inviting section with subdued lighting and lit candles but we were shown to a table in a brightly lit section and the waitress said she would check if they could put the ovens back on again.  We felt uncomfortable, we knew we had made a mistake, but we were hungry.  We ordered two starters and decided to share a pizza (well that would justify them turning on the ovens we thought!!)

Romantic Dinner for two

Could have been different

Half way through our starter, they started to clean the floor and the music was turned off.  Amidst the smell of bleach and the eerie quietness without the music, I got a brainwave.  We had candles waiting to be lit in our cosy dining room, an iPod with over 10,000 songs on it and a poor neglected dog that we hadn’t seen all day – why not just get the Pizza to go when we had finished our starter.

I communicated my idea to the waitress; she said there was no problem with us finishing our meal.  She was really nice about it and encouraged us to stay, but you know what – the damage was done.

The pizza was lovely, we might even get another one as a take-away some time, but we will never eat in this restaurant again.  It’s a shame because they did have all the right ingredients to have us returning as loyal customers, but they didn’t take the opportunity to continue to promote themselves to us when we got inside the door.

This was a genuine lost opportunity for the restaurant – they had it all worked out how to get people in the door, just forgot to look after new customers once they got them through the door.   And if you know Greg at all, he would have tweeted it out big time (he can’t help himself…..).

So don’t turn off the music when a customer “walks” in – show them that the welcome continues past the door, give them an experience that delivers on promises and ensures that they come back again and again .. we would have.

Deirdre Waldron is a partner of Fuzion

“Live Testimonials – Who thinks you are great?

February 26, 2012
testimonials
I think you’re great !

My poor laptop was starting to fall apart, left mouse button a bit wobbly, battery life of about 2 minutes and a regular dose of crashing and ctrl alt deleting required ..

I just wasn’t up to the trauma of changing, mail system not working, transfer of files and program’s, a few days of frustration …. too busy for all of that!

In the end I was forced to bite the bullet so I rang my buddy Sean Ware from TSG who gave me a really good price on a well spec’d machine and promised to do a painless changeover.

Hmmmm … I wasn’t convinced, it never works out that way!

To be fair to Sean he had convinced us earlier in the year to move to Google Apps for our email service, which not only protected our emails but also made and changeover a lot easier.

A few days after ordering Sean arrived with the new laptop, software installed and even my email was set up. An hour later we were 100% up and running after transferring files and re-installing a few random pieces of software that I use.

I must hand it to him – the transfer was incredibly painless.

I paid him and sincerely thanked him for the great service.

Going out the door Sean winked at me and suggested that if I was really happy with the service I might “tweet” out that I was happy. To be honest he didn’t need to suggest it as I would have done it in any case! I was more than happy to oblige of course.

“Live” Testimonials

This is where social media is absolutely brilliant – you can capture “live testimonials” for you and your business for all to see.

Word of mouth was always the best form of referral and the traditional face to face method was the only way this really travelled. Now with your Facebook pageTwitter account and LinkedIn presence (of these LinkedIn personal recommendations are the most permanent and  powerful) you have an opportunity for anyone that is happy with you and your business to post that positive feedback “live” – what better way to capture that your customers are satisfied with you?

Next time someone tells you that you are great you know what to say to them!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR

Be nice to the Elderly woman!

November 14, 2011
Pay it forward

It pays to be nice!

This week I heard a really simple story by a guy who was participating in one of our training courses. He supplied corporate and domestic cleaning services and at the early stages of  building his business he was desperately trying to get some custom from the biggest hotel in his town. Despite all attempts he realised that he could not shift the incumbent supplier who the hotel were extremely loyal to so he eventually stopped trying.

Some time later he was asked to clean the carpets in this elderly woman’s house, which he did and at the end of a very long and tiring day he finished the job and packed away all of his cleaning gear. The old woman realised that there was another room upstairs that she had forgotten about and she asked him would he look after it.

Even though it was late and it would take an age to unpack and set up all of his cleaning gear again he decided he would go ahead, unload and clean the extra room. The woman thanked him and did acknowledge the extra work and inconvenience that was involved in cleaning the extra room.

Two weeks later he received a call from the hotel to come and clean some of their carpets.

Guess who was related to the elderly woman?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR

Porridge and what I learnt about samples

November 1, 2011
Flahavans Porridge

Hard habit to break?

I don’t like porridge, at least that’s what I always thought!

In truth I had never tasted it and at 46 what were the chances of me developing a taste for a new cereal? In particular one that was sticky, stodgy and a little messy to make.

I came down the stairs and as usual a really busy week at work meant that the shopping had been neglected and the cupboards were bare, except for this box of Flahavans porridge that had been given to each of the attendees at the Cork Chamber annual conference.

Ok, desperate times calls for desperate measures so let’s try it – how bad can it be? I crack open the carton and see 10 sachets inside with a handy little measuring cup. I quickly read the instructions, empty the sachet, two measures of milk, 2 minutes in the microwave and stir.

Hmmm ..not as bad as I was expecting but maybe it could have been a little sweeter?

Next morning and due to another hectic day at work and the small matter of final accounts being needed for the tax deadline the shopping had still been neglected – ok, let’s try the porridge again but this time lets add a small dash of maple syrup that I found at the back of the cupboard.

Hmmm..this was quite nice after all, it was easy to make and very warming on a cold and miserable morning.

Next morning – I’m looking forward to my porridge. A new habit was born!

It’s never too late to convert a customer but if you are doing it with samples don’t just give them a taste, give them enough so they can form a new habit.

Flahavans – well done to you!

I’m sure at some point that someone internally put their neck on the line and insisted that full boxes of product be given to participants at conferences instead of single sachets because they understood that’s what is needed to change habits.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

When Great Products mask over Poor Service

October 18, 2011
Butlers Chocolates

Great Products - Poor Service?

I found myself in the queue of Butlers Chocolate Coffee Shop for about the fifth time in the week for our ritual morning treat and we just had to leave and search the streets of Cork for another outlet that might serve coffee as good (Cork Coffee Roasters on Bridge Street is a little too far away).

Unfortunately we didn’t find a better cup of coffee anywhere so I just have to try to solve my dilemma by blogging about it in the hope that they might notice.

Butlers Chocolate Coffee Shops do great coffee but at times the customer service is just appalling (my social media contacts will have seen a zillion posts about this from me). Some of the staff are very friendly and some are really quite the opposite. I find this incredible – I go in there at least three or four times a week, I buy a few coffees each time and some of the regular staff would neither smile or make eye contact.

There is also a very definite policy of preparing the coffee for the customer and leaving it on the counter and then “shouting” out the order until the customer hears and collects. You could be in there on a quiet day, sitting having a chat while waiting for your coffee , just feet from the counter and the staff will still “shout” your order instead of popping it over to you – I must admit it drives me nuts!

This must be how the staff are trained and I feel it also probably creates a culture whereby a “no smile” scenario is acceptable as well. I can see the logic around staff overhead but this policy needs to be applied with some intelligence and “cop on”.

Hilariously they recently introduced a new electronic loyalty card system called a “happiness” card and for the few weeks around it’s introduction all the staff had t-shirts with “happiness” written boldly across them. With the card you earn your usual one in ten coffees free but you also earn loyalty points – all designed to have you coming back. Now there’s a good idea!

This week I witnessed the very worst customer service incident, which motivated me to eventually write – A woman with a young kid and a new born baby around her neck in a little sling ordered a low fat latte. She seemed under pressure as she sat down while waiting for her coffee – the “shout” duly followed: “low fat latte” to be followed by an even louder and more impatient “low fat latte”.

The poor lady who was sitting down and a little under pressure with her toddler and baby responded “I’ll get it when I am ready“. At this stage practically every customer in the coffee shop had heard the awful interaction and were trying to figure out why none of the three staff on duty could make an exception and walk the few feet over to the woman with her coffee.

I was chatting with a buddy of mine and I was about to collect the coffee from the counter and bring it over to the woman only to be beaten to the punch by another customer.

Incredible!

The product is great so we keep going back but at some point a new coffee shop will open that will know the value of smiling and the even greater value of bringing coffee down to a customer in extreme or not so extreme situations .. I look forward to it.

If you have a great product don’t let it create an opportunity for poor service to creep in.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you Making a Sale or Changing a Customers Routine?

August 2, 2011
Cafe Chico

Do you change your routine easily?

I admit it … I’m boring!

Every Sunday morning myself and Dee go for a walk with our four legged creature, Bing to the local park with our good friends Tommy and Joan and their four legged creature, Tammy.

This routine was so predictable – walk to Ballincollig Park, lap of the first field, walk alongside the river to the lower fields, cut up through the Gunpowder mills and the GAA fields, into the village, stop for coffee and scones at Nosh and Coffee, chat, walk through the village and home. This as I mentioned is what we do pretty much every Sunday.

A few months ago a very cute little mobile coffee kiosk moved into the car park at the start of the park serving coffee and buns and they even have a few very neat tables and chairs outside their unit complete with flowers in vases. Now, this didn’t really suit our break “routine” as the location of the kiosk was at the start of our walk and not in the middle so even though it was a really nice set up it wasn’t quite right for us (its a big deal changing people’s habits!).

Recently we did our usual walk but some of the “crew members” were a little hungover so having completed stage one of our walk we double backed, cut the walk short and went back to the little kiosk, “Cafe Chico” (the owner called the kiosk after her dog, who she brings with her for company each day) for some very welcome refreshments.

The woman working in the kiosk was really friendly, the coffee and home made scones were perfect and to top it all she offered us biscuits from a tin especially for the four legged creatures – Wow! this woman knew and understood her customers really well.

Officially we have changed our routine! Now the first leg of our walk is the same as it was before but now we do a few laps of the lower fields, double back along the river to lap the first field again and then return to the beginning to enjoy our coffee, scones and chat at Cafe Chico!

I know.. exciting stuff!

Why? She runs a great little friendly business, she understands her customer and she goes a little further than you would expect but fully appreciate.

Are you making a sale or are you changing a customers routine – which is worth more?

While we can look after your PR needs, your reputation starts with what you do yourself.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Ultimate in Brand Loyalty, Bobby Stokes and a Pencil Case?

May 29, 2011
Liverpool FC Pencil case

Loyalty starts with a pencil case?

Chatting to a friend of mine last week the conversation came around to football, the Champions League Final and the ultimate in brand loyalty – the undying support for “your” football team.

Supporting your football team through thick and thin must be the ultimate in brand loyalty and is one of life’s greatest mysteries – how does this happen, when does it start and why do supporters never waver from their team despite success and otherwise?

How do we end up with this incredible bond with a football team from another country? – it really makes little sense but it exists and it runs so deep that it affects us, our moods, our friends and even those who we may not like!!

As a die hard Liverpool fan I can honestly tell you my form is great when they win, lousy when they lose, I get anxious about new signings and I get suspicious of people who support their arch rivals!!

I’m not from Liverpool (but I do like going there – the people are great fun!), my parents aren’t from there, I will do my utmost to watch every match (on TV or computer), I feel betrayed by Mr Torres, I did meet the legendary old club chairman Peter Robinson once and I think You’ll Never Walk Alone is the greatest football song ever!

How is it that in a lifetime we might have many personal relationships but we never change football teams? – what is that about and where and how does it actually start?

My friend is an Everton fan – how did this start? Well, his mother who he admits knows nothing about football bought him an Everton pencil case – he tells me the following year she bought him his first ever football shirt, a Liverpool shirt (she does have taste, that woman..), which he refused to wear. The ultimate brand loyalty had set in, he was a die hard Everton fan.

Bobby Stokes celebrates FA Cup winning goal versus Manchester United
Well done Bobby Stokes !

My cousin who I hadn’t seen in a very long time proclaimed he was a Southampton fan – curious I asked him how this happened? He nearly killed me that I did not know – he reminded me that when we were kids (1976 to be precise) he was visiting our house on FA Cup Final day when Southampton (in the old 2nd division) were up against the mighty Manchester United.

I warned him not to support Man Utd if he knew what was good for him – Bobby Stokes scored a winner (do click the Bobby Stokes link – the goal is worth watching!) for the Saints in the 83rd minute to  seal an unexpected win and a new “brand loyal” fan was won for life! To this day despite few opportunities to celebrate memorable wins he has remained loyal to his team.

Getting deep about this topic with my Everton buddy we actually agreed that you could even use the word “love” to describe that bond with your team – whoah, that’s heavy?

How can your brand or business instil even a fraction of that kind of loyalty with your customers?

– buy them a pencil case?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion


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