Small changes can create a big shift in customer loyalty. Here's a simple approach for turning bad scenes into golden relationships (and profits).

My cell phone sputtered out on me this week. This is never good, because any trip to the cell phone store for service issues is just about as enjoyable as licking a frozen flagpole.

We all loathe this store visit because the service reps can't or don't want to help. So we sit around, and the trip becomes a waste of time. Conversely, the cellcos hate seeing us because they're so un-streamlined that any customer issue creates a massive drag on their profits. Yep, we all lose.

Distracting your customers for fun and profit

But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it wouldn't be this way if they'd consider making one simple, feasible and very profitable change: distract me while I wait. And if you do it right, customers like me are more likely to be loyal—to the tune of at least $5 billion.

At least $5 billion, you say? Loyalty? Profits? You bet. Because this isn't about my little trip to the big cellco store in the strip mall. This is about differentiation in a commoditized market by leveraging an opportunity that's woefully untapped. This, my friends, is a story about brand building, and the bounty that comes to those who do it well.

Retailers have a choice: customers or cattle

Our tale does begin, however, in the cell phone store that I visited just outside Portland, Oregon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Noel Franus is managing director for Sonic ID (sonicid.com), a sonic branding and identity consultancy in Portland, Oregon and London. He writes regularly on sonic branding and identity at intentionalaudio.com and sonicid.com.