New Rule of Marketing: Customer Experience Conquers All

Brand-loyal customers demand more than a cut-and-dried transaction of going to a business, laying their money down and purchasing a product or service. They want a meaningful experience through which they can find connection, empathy and validation. Case in point: Southwest Airlines.

It is common knowledge that the airline industry is hurting and they’re passing the pain on to passengers by adding extra fees and cutbacks in service. While changes need to be made to rise above spiraling costs, safety and customer satisfaction issues, downgrading service is a dangerous tactic for an industry that thrives on long-term customer loyalty.

Industry turbulence notwithstanding, Southwest Airlines continues to succeed in a hard-knock economy by doing what it does better than anyone: Providing a great value and a fun, stress-reducing flying experience for passengers. On Southwest flights, passengers are often treated to flight attendants who sing, tell jokes and add some playful appeal to routine announcements on the public address system. While other airlines are tacking on extra luggage fees, Southwest pokes fun at them, boasting that on their planes, “Bags fly free.”

The take-away lesson for companies who wish to improve their marketing results is simply this: Often, the experience is the marketing. Here are some tips for creating customer experiences that promote you positively:

Love what you do and for whom you do it. Passion and eagerness to please are contagious. Customers are drawn to companies whose people are excited to be working with them.

Empathize and sympathize. Ask the extra question and sincerely care about the answer and customers will remember and speak of you fondly.

Say what you’ll do and do what you say. Being upfront with customers about what you intend to do for them is always a good move. But that good move becomes golden when you shorten the gap between saying and doing and deliver exactly what you promised.

Bring some personality to the process. Providing a useful product or service is nice. Doing it with style, wit or personal flair is what makes customers smile, sing your praises to others, and circle back for more.

What experience do your customers and clients get from your company when they walk in the door? When they visit your web page? When they call on the phone? Is it routine and forgettable or is it engaging and memorable? A great customer experience will conquer any marketing issue, from higher pricing to heavy competition.

Or, as a certain group of flight attendants have been known to say, “Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”

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