Clearly, there’s just not enough time to engage with every customer or client equally. But a few brand ambassadors (superfans, if you will) can do a lot of your legwork for you.
- Loyalists: These customers come back again and again and likely have a long history with your brand. If an average customer comes into your store three times, loyalists have visited more than 20.
- Heavy Hitters: Although they may not visit as frequently, these customers spend more when they buy. If the average check out on your e-commerce site is $60, heavy hitters shell out closer to $200.
- MVCs: Most valuable clients are more influencers than purchasers. Though they might spend only $60, they think enough of your product to get six friends to try it. Imagine how much that initial referral is worth if each of those friends spends $60, and three become repeat customers.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting: the right kind of online engagement can turn loyalists and heavy hitters into MVCs. When I was managing e-commerce and social media for Temptu, a beauty brand, we had one particularly active fan—let’s call her Jess—who responded to our posts at least once a week. She was a great brand ambassador: One night after regular business hours, a frustrated customer publicly complained about not being able to properly use one of the brand’s products. The social media team regularly monitored brand mentions, but this time Jess stepped in before we had a chance to respond. She offered the unhappy customer courteous and helpful advice about what she was doing wrong.
As important as it is for a customer to get attention from brand employees, communication that comes in the form of peer-to-peer interaction with a non-incentivized brand rep like Jess can be even more effective. Clara Shih outlined this phenomenon to great effect in The Facebook Era: If I know Natalie, and Natalie knows Leslie, I am more likely to have a positive opinion about Leslie when I’m introduced to her. Some of the trust I’ve put in Natalie gets transferred to Leslie, and that means she has an in when she tries to sell me something. Our mutual connection helps her get a foot in my door. Similarly, Jess’s relationship with Temptu gave the brand an in with her connections.
To foster MVCs, it is important to do a few things consistently:
- Allot time accordingly: The fact of the matter is, you cannot spend more time cultivating MVCs if you do not allow yourself an oversized chunk of time to address their concerns.
- Make them feel special: No one wants to feel like a number, and that is especially true for the MVC class. While you might have five other key customers needing your attention, the MVC you are speaking to right at the moment doesn’t need to know that. To them, it should feel like they’re your only customer, and your only priority is making them happy.
- Under-promise and over-deliver: The idea of under promising isn’t to promise little; there has to be a high level of promise to your MVCs from the outset. But, over-delivering is key. Delivery is the end of one transaction, which lets the relationship continue on a high note.
The Takeaway: It starts with identification. Compile a list of your MVCs, and then learn about what makes them tick and why in particular they care about what you have to offer. Focus your time and energy on nurturing those contacts; it’s impossible—or at the very least a poor business choice—to treat all your business relationships equally.