Let’s face it… shoppers don’t become advocates and influence others in order to champion brands out of the goodness of their hearts, or because of a brilliantly-designed logo or a couple coupons they can download from the internet.
Is it any surprise that Amazon Payments has become a success story? Well, sort of. Despite Amazon’s well-earned reputation for developing efficient eCommerce solutions, going toe-to-toe with PayPal is no small task. The truth is that both services work quite well, and each has carved out its own (very large) niche in addition to the places where the two overlap. I’ve been seeing Amazon Payments pop up quite often in my day-to-day life as a consumer lately, and simple, safe, efficient payment options are always en vogue from a business perspective.
It’s easy to forget that Amazon began its life as an online retailer of books – the paper kind. The eCommerce website where today you can literally purchase almost anything you can imagine got its start selling a single type of product that would soon lose most of its relevance. The fact that Amazon’s Kindle ushered in the era of eBooks is almost poetic and goes a long way toward explaining the brand’s success. Paper books seem inconvenient? No problem. We’ll just create something more modern, convenient, and relevant to the needs of our customers.
If you have been shopping at a Banana Republic Factory store in the past year, you may have noticed something new. Banana Republic is working with “flok,” a third-party customer experience platform, to deliver a more tech-friendly shopping experience for loyal customers. The details are mostly familiar – rewards for repeat customers, product recommendations, a virtual help desk – but Banana Republic is also looking for ways to go beyond the standard branded app. Working with flok’s platform, rather than producing a standalone app, is just one interesting example.
Don’t underestimate the value of getting to know your employees and vendors as people. For developing great working relationships plan time for getting together outside work to unwind, taking part in a charitable event, having a meal or just playing.
Just be nice. When you’re working to build relationships, you can never go wrong by showing some basic respect, decency and empathy. It’s pretty easy to be nice when the sun is shining, you’re in a good mood, and you’re surrounded by people whose company you enjoy. But being nice can be hard work when you’re frustrated, angry or dealing with someone with a very unfortunate personality. Navigating those moments is never easy, but with a bit of effort you can emerge with your reputation intact and maybe spark a new relationship in the process.
Look at big corporate brands, and you’ll find plenty of businesses paying millions to cultivate influence by creating the next viral moment. Good luck. The impulse is understandable, but the tactics leave much to be desired. Obsessing over “the big one” all too often means missing out on the smaller moments of influence that really matter and you do not have to wait for. Viral moments were not named in haste. They’re called viral because they happen quickly and without notice, grow exponentially, and are very difficult to control for any business caught up in the wave.
Transactions, conversions, closing the deal. All good stuff in the grand scheme, but not what we should be focusing on when building sustainable relationships with customers. The problem is that when a transaction is the only goal, there’s little focus on keeping the customer coming back for more. Ten different people who make one-and-done transactions with your business may look the same in a spreadsheet, but one person who makes ten purchases over time is a much better indication that you’re doing something right.
I’ve been reflecting for a while on an article from MediaPost, which outlines some of the ways social media and online culture have changed the way we interact face to face. The upshot, based on a study by the British government, is that we’re making fewer in-person visits than we used to. They’re called “social visits” in the study, which is a perfect name given the subject we’re about to tackle.