Following is a small snippet of one of the sessions from Clareity’s 2014 MLS Executive Workshop:
As an MLS, how do you create subscribers who are passionately attached to you – loyal fans and advocates – subscribers who are emotionally engaged in wanting you to succeed in all that you do? Can you imagine people buying merchandise with your MLS logo just to wear around because they’re proud of their affiliation? Apple has done it – there have been Apple T-shirts since the company began in the 1970s – and hotel chains like the Ritz Carlton command similar loyalty. Loyalty is something MLS traditionally takes for granted because in most markets there isn’t more than one choice. But with all the challenges our industry faces, we need to improve the relationship between MLSs and subscribers. Following are some of the principles that can help you turn subscribers into fans.
All the most successful companies – Zappos, Amazon, Starbucks, etc. – tap into psychological principles that exist in everyone – innate human desires – and don’t rest until they’ve met those desires. The mission statement of the Ritz Carlton chain says, “The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.” It is these unexpressed wishes and needs that need to be identified and satisfied if you want to be most successful at improving the MLS-subscriber relationship.
One human need is for things to function as we expect them to, and to do so with ease. We want software to work predictably and reliably. If we call a help desk, we want the person on the other end of the phone to be helpful and friendly, and to solve our problem quickly. When we are frustrated – when something doesn’t work the way we want it to, when it’s difficult to use, or when someone says “NO” to us – it is much more difficult for us to “love” the product, company, or person involved. We can all think of many organizations and companies that we do not love because they have made our lives more difficult instead of easier. It’s possible to reframe many MLS negatives into positives:
- Turn compliance officers into “clean data” stewards
- Turn the data licensing into “data provisioning” for members
- Support integration efforts that make things easier for subscribers
- Use subscriber feedback to improve process (saying “Yes” instead of killing the idea with a committee)
An organization that can anticipate how we want things to work, and make them go that way 95% of the time, creating a great subscriber experience, can inspire great loyalty.
Another human need is for meaningful connection. We want to feel that we are liked, respected, and, most importantly, understood. It is crucial for MLSs to put systems in place to personalize the experience – to recognize subscribers by name, to allow subscribers to select their service preferences, and remember past interactions so you can serve them better. Allowing subscribers to control the interaction better – to start or stop a dialog, and decide which communications to receive and in what format is also very important. Remember – people want to work with people – not machines or voice prompts. Using automation to deliver service to them faster is good; using it so you don’t have to answer as many calls is bad. It’s all about service.
For example, when Clareity’s Amy Geddes ordered the shoes pictured at right from Zappos, she tweeted @zappos to please ship them with some extra energy to help her through the NAR convention. This shipment came with a can of Red Bull and a note to have a great show! Someone at Zappos was empowered to spend a few extra minutes and dollars to make Amy’s experience amazing and forge a connection with her – a meaningful connection that inspires loyalty.
How do you inspire love as an organization when you’re just an ordinary organization, with your own troubles, inefficiencies, and personalities? How do you make any kind of commitment to this level of customer service that isn’t mere lip service, when there are core functions of the organization that have to be kept going, and you can’t divert a lot of time, money, or personnel to keeping every member happy? You can listen to your members and find out their expressed wants through surveys, topics on social media, and in-person meetings. From these, you may be able to deduce their unexpressed needs. If you can meet their wants and needs – and do so while forming that meaningful connection – you’ll be well on your way to creating a great subscriber experience – and loyal subscribers.
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