Engage Your Customers with Your Brand

Just as employee engagement is more important than employee satisfaction, so, too, does customer engagement trump customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer will supply a positive review of your company if asked, but an engaged customer will go out of her way to “brand” her satisfaction with your product.

Apple is great at getting customers to live their brand. But it’s not the only one. BMW, Southwest Airlines, Harley-Davidson — these are all companies whose customers live their brand. What’s their secret? In a word, it’s engagement — but in this case, customer engagement.

As an extreme example, a person who owns a Harley-Davidson motorcycle may be satisfied. But a person who has a Harley-Davidson tattoo on his forearm? That guy’s engaged.

Here’s an example of the power of an engaged customer. A few years back, a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight made a video recording of an airline flight attendant singing a country song as part of her “buckle up” spiel. The passenger then uploaded the video to YouTube. Since then, millions of people have watched the video.

Think of the marketing benefits, not just from a product branding standpoint but from an employment branding perspective. In addition to showing how fun it is to fly on Southwest, the video demonstrated that working for the company is so great, people sing on the job! And it didn’t cost Southwest a dime.

Of course, disengaged customers are equally powerful. Take Dave Carroll, who spotted a United Airlines bag handler mishandling his guitar, causing it to break. Carroll sought reimbursement from United, but he received only denials and, ultimately, a rejection. Frustrated, Carroll wrote a song titled “United Breaks Guitars,” created a video for it, and uploaded it to YouTube.

Soon, close to 13 million people had watched it. Carroll subsequently appeared on several major media outlets, released follow-up videos, and even published a book. United, on the other hand, faced a PR nightmare. In the end, United was forced to offer an apology and reimburse Carroll for his loss. Oh, and the company now includes “United Breaks Guitars” as a customer-service training video.

The point? Social media is not going away . . . and if you don’t take control of it, it can take control of you!

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