Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Edward and Bella, true love on and off the screen–in shambles!? If you paid any attention to Twitter this week then you know that it was nearly impossible to miss the avalanche of posts having to do with the rumored affair between Kristen Steward and the director of Snow White and the Huntsmen. As the story broke and continued to develop fans around the world rallied around Stewart and Pattinson–tweeting their support, disbelief, hopeful well wishes, and outright anger at the magazines publishing the details. “Robsten is Unbroken” became their battle-cry. For 13 HOURS “Robsten is Unbroken” was in the top 10 trending phrases on Twitter. The Stewart/Pattinson ‘brand’ galvanized the Twitterverse for over half a day! THAT is brand affinity. THAT is brand strength. And, perhaps, the truest expression of fan loyalty is the extent to which the fans themselves will fight to preserve the brand when things get rough.
The question is: Would your “fans,” your customers, do the same for your business brand?
Many small businesses attempt to measure ‘customer satisfaction.’ They have indexes and ranking and percentage point systems that measure “VOC.” It’s not uncommon to hear a business owner say “We have a 95% customer satisfaction score.” Which is great. Don’t get me wrong. Any feedback is better than none. The more important question, however, is how much new business do those 95% satisfied customer create after the survey is completed? It’s one thing for a customer to be satisfied and altogether another for that same customer to feel emotionally compelled to help grow the company that provided a service. Satisfaction is not the same as brand affinity.
Brand affinity begins the moment at which a business becomes meaningful in the customer’s eyes. Meaningful. Not competent. Not friendly. Meaningful. Brand affinity begins the moment at which the customer feels that their well-being is improved. When they’ve learned something that enriches them. When something funny happens (and it’s genuine). When they feel good. When there’s an ethical connection. It’s a connection that has almost nothing to do with a product or service but, rather, an intimate emotional connection with the business and people involved.
Making the shift from “customer satisfaction” to true brand affinity demands that a business Owner ask a tough question: “If our customers are so happy then why aren’t we living off of referrals and non-stop customer loyalty?” Unfortunately, for many small businesses the answer is that the customer is far less committed to the company’s well-being than their customer satisfaction survey indicates. Time to change. Get meaningful. That’s how to win.