At Advofest 2019 we were very fortunate to be able to welcome a number of industry leaders to speak about brand advocacy. A key principle of brand advocacy is that businesses must provide an excellent customer experience to convert their customers into loyal advocates.

Samantha Cox and Stuart Banbery know this better than anyone because, as Service Delivery Manager at National Express and Marketing Director at Orlo respectively, customers are at the centre of everything they do. National Express realised that it needed to improve its customer service, so partnered with Orlo to redefine its customer experience.

As customer experience professionals, Orlo’s priority is creating a human connection with customers to ensure that they feel valued. Stuart and Samantha spoke about how their companies worked together to make National Express’ customer experience personal, efficient and responsive.

Creating an emotional connection

Orlo’s brand is based on ‘harnessing a human connection’ with customers. This is because customers are far more likely to buy into a brand if they feel valued as people rather than simply part of a transaction. A Harvard study found that, when customers feel valued, 87% will become advocates and 74% will remain with the brand.

In fact, Stuart argues that customers do not even remember what businesses say to them during transactions; only how it makes them feel. This led to National Express transitioning from a cost-driven customer service model to a human-centric one.

By tracking Key Performance Indicators and developing a social media strategy, National Express has reduced its average response time for messages and complaints from over an hour to under fifteen minutes. 

This makes customers feel valued so that, even when they are disgruntled, they feel that the business cares about them as people and are more likely to reciprocate this loyalty.

People don’t remember what you say but they do remember how it made them feel

Stuart BanberyMarketing Director, Orlo

Simplifying the customer journey

National Express set the goal of ensuring lifetime loyalty from its customers but, as Stuart says, customers tend to switch brands very quickly due to how easy it is nowadays. This meant that it was imperative for the company to make the customer journey as efficient as possible so that customers would not wish to leave.

Samantha told us how National Express has made it easier for customers to interact with the brand. A crucial aspect of this was becoming more transparent on social media or, as Samantha described it, using ‘proactive communications’.

This means preemptively warning customers when there are problems, such as informing passengers when coach services are disrupted. National Express also narrows its communications scope to the platforms used by customers, leading to a focus online and on social media so that customer service was exemplary in these areas.

Customers now have to face minimal hassle to interact with National Express, which increases loyalty and makes them more likely to advocate on the company’s behalf.

When you think you've got a great team performing, keep going because there's always room for improvement.

Samantha CoxService Delivery Manager, National Express

Be receptive to feedback

Samantha also spoke about the importance of taking feedback on board to show customers that their voices are valued. Stuart also hammered home this point as customers are likely to switch brands as soon as a business becomes complacent.

To this end, National Express continually trains staff to embed a company culture based on engaging with customers. A great customer experience is not possible unless staff fully engage with customers and actively listen to their feedback. When customers feel that a company wants to hear what they have to say, they are more likely to show them loyalty and become an advocate.

You can watch Samantha and Stuart’s talk below:

Stuart and Samantha have shown us that successful companies must put the customer at the centre of their operations. By helping it to shift from a cost-centric approach to a customer-driven model, Orlo helped National Express to develop a human connection with its loyal customers.

Hyve is committed to helping businesses to achieve customer-driven growth through brand advocacy, so we are very grateful to Samatha and Stuart for their thought-provoking talk.

To learn more about brand advocacy, and how other companies have used it to their advantage, visit the official Advofest website and find us on Twitter and Instagram.

John Sewell

Author John Sewell

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