I did business with some folks from Virgin several years ago. They were looking to redesign their brand (group) website, the company that I worked for (Blast Radius) won the business and as the Client Services Director for the UK, I became their account manager. As a result of working with Virgin, I have become fond of Virgin, I associate it with the following qualities: fun, warmth, friendliness, sense of humour, intelligence, straight talking, caring, humanity, hard work and professionalism. I stopped working with Virgin back in 2007.
Now how is it that I ended up associating these qualities with Virgin? Is it because of their marketing communications? No. Is it because of my experience as a customer? No. I did do business with Virgin, they had an ISP who I signed up with for broadband. I found their welcome pack easy to understand and useful. Yet, I did not develop a relationship with Virgin ISP nor the brand. When the 12 month contract was up, I switched to another small and friendly ISP. In my customer satisfaction did not lead to renewing the contract and thus being a ‘loyal customer’.
This weekend I was delighted to reconnect with a lady I hold in high regard. Her name is Pooja Tanna and she was one of the three people that were my customers at Virgin. I had been looking to reconnect with her for several years – in fact since she moved to M+S. I had continued to make efforts to reconnect up with her, despite the fact that I had made several efforts over the last two years and had heard nothing back from her. Why did I not give up when I got no response from Pooja?
When I think of Pooja I think of fun, warmth, friendliness, sense of humour, intelligence, straight talking, caring, humanity, hard work and professionalism. In short, it is the values that Pooja lived whilst I was ‘her Client Services Director’ (her words) that I associate with Virgin. These values and behaviour are meaningful – attractive – in my world.
What I take away from this is that the personal – the human interaction – matters a great deal. It is the human interaction that is the basis of relationship and the source of bonding and loyalty; the role of technology is to play a supporting role – to enable great human interactions. And any company that wants to create loyalty needs to make sure that they have great people like Pooja: the front line staff are the brand ambassadors in the eyes of many customers.