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Customer loyalty has always been important to brands, and loyalty often starts with customers connecting with a brand on an emotional level, rather than on specific benefits (e.g. price, convenience etc.) A recent HBR article highlights that this emotional connection has real, quantifiable rewards.

By implementing an emotional-connection-based strategy across the entire customer experience — including how it communicates with customers and attracts prospects – this retailer has increased its percentage of emotionally connected customers from 21% to 26%, reduced its customer attrition rate from 37% to 33%, and increased customer advocacy from 24% to 30%, resulting in a 15% increase in the number of active customers and more than a 50% increase in the rate of same-store-sales growth.” 1

Trying to emotionally connect with customers can prove to be a difficult task especially because technology and trends are constantly changing. Customization has become a popular tactic for brands in this age of customers. By itself, customization is hardly anything new or innovative but combined with the right message, it can be used by brands to engage customers based on what is important to them personally.

Here is an example of how two companies in different business sectors use customization to create a personal experience and emotional connection with their customers:

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee’s mission statement is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Starbucks was successful in setting itself apart in the quick-service industry by making its baristas ask customers for their name. The goal for Starbucks was much more than just operational efficiency and creating a personalized cup for the customer but a strategic decision to correlate back to its mission statement. By having baristas address customers by their name to remember what regular customers' orders are, the emotional connection between the barista and the customer is ultimately the emotional connection between the Starbucks brand and the customer. By doing so, not only have they effectively made their customers feel Starbucks cares about them on a personal level, but they’ve also successfully distanced themselves from the typical big-box corporate chain image.

Coca-Cola is another example of a brand that leveraged customization as an effective strategy to create a deep emotional bond with their customers. Unlike Starbucks, Coca-Cola does not have a direct-to-consumer channel, yet, they found a way to successfully connect with their customers through its #ShareACoke campaign. It started as “Project Connect” and the goal was the strengthen Coca-Cola’s bond with Australia’s young audience which eventually launched globally across 70 different countries. The message Coca-Cola used was to “inspire shared moments of happiness in the real and virtual worlds”. The message resonated well with customers as it wasn’t about Coca-Cola, it was about carrying out a genuine gesture of kindness from one human to another.

Both brands have different products, different mission statements and different ways of growing their brand. But both are able to answer the question of why they did what they did and it usually appeals on a more personal level of connection, beginning with a type of customization and ultimately building an emotional bond beyond that. #CX #CustomerExperience 1


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