3 Plays to Build Your Brand’s Fandom Like the Pros
Sports teams wrote the playbook on brand loyalty. Here’s what organizations can learn from them to turn customers into lifelong fans.
Sports teams have the most loyal—and loudest fans—in the world. They invest time, money and emotion into their team. And once they choose (or are born into) a favorite franchise, they’ll likely follow them for life. Devoted fans will fly across the country, spend money on expensive gear to be walking billboards and get into heated discussions with family, friends and even complete strangers in defense of “their” team.
For many, it’s more than just a game. But what is it about sports that incite such passion and devotion? And how can brands replicate this same level of loyalty through their strategy? With Bucs fans still celebrating their Super Bowl win, March Madness brackets being filled out and baseball season up to bat, we’re sharing three ways to build brand loyalty like the pros.
Build a Fan Base
Whether they’re chanting and cheering at the stadium, the bar, or at home, sports fans are loud and proud. Online, it’s no different.
With people all over the world engaging across social platforms, social media is key to staying ahead of the competition and winning customer loyalty. But sports teams aren’t the only organizations that can benefit from having a strong social presence.
Once viewed purely as a marketing tool, social media now offers brands a powerful way to connect and engage with customers. Brand interactions online have shifted from one-way conversations to shared experiences built around community—with social media as the catalyst for this change.
The goal of brand loyalty is to turn customers into lifelong fans. By engaging, listening and participating on social media, you create a community of advocates and ambassadors that actively promote and share your brand.
People like (literally and figuratively) seeing and sharing positive interactions between companies and real people. Every interaction you put out there—whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter—is an opportunity to boost your brand value and increase awareness. Loyal customers are more likely to recommend you to their friends, support your products and talk about you on social media. This level of fandom has the power to grow your business and an outsourcing partner with expertise can make all the difference in your ability to scale for your fan base.
Social media is a powerful tool that gives you deeper insights into your audience to personalize the customer experience (CX). In addition to growing your online presence, it brings a new dimension to customer care and problem resolution. Leverage your social channels to listen to what your customers are saying and turn that data into actionable insights to drive your customer experience strategy.
Treat Your Customers Like They’re Part of Your Team
Like sports teams, brands need a solid fan base to succeed. But with more organizations embracing an omnichannel approach to customer experience, the competition, as well as consumer expectations, have never been higher.
Leveraging online chat solutions—like instant messaging and live web chat—to provide fast, seamless service is key to delivering on these expectations. According to Salesforce data from the Sitel Group® 2021 CX Trends Report, the use of online chat among large organizations globally is increasing by 32% year over year. With emotional engagement being a leading driver behind the customer experience, messaging is one of the most personal (and fastest) ways to connect with your customers and keep the lines of communication open while building brand loyalty.
Sports fans feel a personal connection to their team. Their fandom is rooted in a sense of belonging. For this reason, when their team wins (or loses), they respond as if they themselves won (or lost). This fandom runs so deep that even in the off-season, they still wear their jerseys, speak the jargon and talk about the franchise. Brands that can replicate this same level of loyalty across their organization create stronger connections with their customers and see the impact on their business’ bottom line.
Brands that want to establish strong, emotional relationships with their customers must master how to create engagement strategies that don’t feel like a sales pitch or come off as transactional. Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) allows brands to have fast and highly scalable ways to provide support that still feels human—warm, friendly and approachable.
Whether it’s to boost sales, build brand loyalty, send company updates or pilot satisfaction surveys, texting and messaging apply to every step of the customer journey. On the business side, companies can leverage SMS to reduce call volume to contact centers during peak seasons.
Improve the Fan Experience
The COVID-19 crisis changed everything: how we work, how we live, how we travel and even how we watch sports. As we adapt to a post-pandemic world, more brands are implementing self-service solutions to provide a more streamlined, convenient and frictionless process for customers.
Research shows that consumers are moving away from voice in favor of online chat to engage with companies. Gartner data finds that 86% of consumers globally expect a brand to offer a self-service option. In support of these findings, our COVID-19: the CX Impact white paper reports that 42% of millennials and Gen Z actively prefer helping themselves when they have a problem versus picking up the phone.
Brands across all industries are implementing self-service solutions to enhance the customer experience. In sports, stadiums are exploring creative ways to get fans back into the stands, investing in smart technologies that are redefining the in-person experience. Self-checkout kiosks and fingerprint recognition are among the self-service solutions designed to help fans help themselves.
Today’s customers demand instant gratification—a trend accelerated by the smartphone, which unlocks products, services and information at the touch of a button (or scan of a face). And they expect the same from customer support: fast, responsive service for which they don’t have to wait on hold. Rather than having your customer call to speak to a rep (typically only available within your designated business hours), brands can leverage AI-powered chatbots to give customers access to fast, friendly service 24/7.
Chatbots today have come a long way. They can support customers across a wide variety of scenarios to help customers find information or resolve issues quickly. Chatbots can work closely with agents, identify customers’ needs and navigate knowledge bases to find answers faster, expediting issue resolution. They can also gather relevant information and pre-qualify customers so that agents can pick up escalations seamlessly and confidently.
Bottom line: whether it’s FAQs, knowledge bases, customer forums, conversational or visual IVR system, or a dedicated chatbot trained to respond to the most common customer issues, offering self-service solutions can streamline and enhance the customer experience for your fans.
In the end, brand loyalty is about meeting your customer’s needs and creating personalized experiences that keep them coming back again and again, and cheering for you from the sidelines.
From text and live chat to social media and contact center management, discover how Sitel Group can help your organization implement and optimize a truly omnichannel approach to customer service and customer experience.