Apple was voted the overall winner at the 2017 ‘CMO Survey’ award for the tenth consecutive year for marketing excellence. This company clearly has one of the most effective customer retention programs in the industry. Its consistent marketing excellence stems from core discipline and an aim to create value for customers. Microsoft is another market leader with exceptional client retention strategies in place. So, what drives their record consumer retention and stellar brand advocacy record? Let’s find out!
- Creating an Experiential Ecosystem
Apple has always focused on a consistent customer experience across different touchpoints like products, ads, app store, retail stores and the website. The Apple experience is part of everyday life. By fostering encouragement for app building and strictly enforcing quality standards, Apple ensures the market for its products continually expands. Innovating products facilitates computing on your wrist or in your pocket and smart devices to be reminded of calorie count or parking spots – every experience of the customer with this brand is integrated, connected and packaged in an experiential ecosystem. Apple has also aimed for creating stores which put experience before selling. The purpose is to see its stores as much more.
- Foster Brand Evangelism
Apple empowers customers who always think differently and inspires them to be creative and unique. Bringing more customers into the fold, the focus here is on fostering brand evangelism. Loyal customers act as brand ambassadors for the Apple products. Besides brand advocacy, Apple also generates referrals and positive word-of-mouth publicity through this. Apple also converted retail locales to town squares. At specific venues, the company built a 24/7 Wi-Fi area called The Plaza with weekend concerts and public seating. Then, there’s a forum point where an area is surrounded by a 6K-video wall. ‘Today at Apple’ is another program that brings together creative visionaries to ideate and humanise technologies.
- Be Customer Centric
Apple targets B2B clients like enterprises, organisations, SMEs and governments. For diverse segments, the company orients sales and marketing campaigns based on the industry served, not the product sold. For example, biomedical engineers may be assigned to SME healthcare accounts, while a financial services sales rep could work with credit unions and banks. This ensures salespersons can understand customers and offer solutions across the Apple portfolio to meet customer needs effectively. Additionally, Apple focuses on hiring sales reps with diverse backgrounds so customers can genuinely connect.
- Leveraging Prices
Apple products with deep discounts are rare. This is because Apple marketers leverage pricing with little discounting to convey the brand is a luxury one. Customer retention is about creating a value for the brand across the microcosm of Apple retailers, resellers and dealers, where Apple uses minimum advertised prices to keep prices comparable to stores and minimal wholesale discount to prevent retail units from passing discounts to the customers.
While other technology retailers use deep discounting for driving demand, Apple focuses on acquiring new customers through price control and make them loyal to Apple products by offering exceptional customer experience.
- Use Customer Metrics
Since 2007, Apple has thrived using Net Promoter Index to understand if customer retention is in place to foster brand advocacy. Apple manages all retail locations and staff using NPS scores. This feedback is shared and collected with store teams everyday. Negative feedback is addressed within 24 hours with a personal call from store managers. NPS is also effective for guiding decisions across long term strategies for employee promotion.
- Mastering Minimalism
Whether it’s a user interface, product aesthetics, support functions or brand logos, Apple has mastered minimalism. Products have clean lines with self explanatory titles. The focus is on making it simple right down to the unboxing experience. Apple Support is also seamless, counselling and responding to customer queries in seconds. Additionally, ads carry just the product name and a clean pic – there are no special effects, technical specifications or prices mentioned.
A common customer retention error is to focus on technical features, not customer benefits. Tech companies like Apple are focused on the customer instead, filling the customer’s needs and inspiring first. Apple specialists don’t use jargon – they target customer benefits and aspirations. A customer-centric plus supportive experience is the USP of Apple. Whether you are in London or Laos, Apple’s sleek designs, minimalism and ease of use appeal to users across the globe, while incorporating local features vital for clients. Apple also stays true to its brand identity, offering a uniform look or branding irrespective of the nation.
- Microsoft’s USP
A growing portion of the revenue is driven by engaged users at Microsoft. Driven by impressive growth, Microsoft is seeing an increase in the demand and growth of its services segment, an important source of recurrent revenue. The Microsoft store experience is a bellwether for how the company approaches customer experience.
The tech major works round-the-clock to upgrade customer service and reputation. As with all customer retention experiences, perception influences reality. Microsoft believes that good customer service experience means giving customers exceptional service. Store design and location apart, Microsoft’s in-store experience is exemplary. Not only does the brand make every effort to meet customer needs, but it also does not fail the consumer when it comes to replacements and maintenance. The customer defines the quality of the user experience based on interactions with the brand. If your brand cares about customer experience, clients will care about you too.
When it comes to customer experience, the focus is on understanding and better serving customers at Microsoft. As far as social listening and the experience economy go, Microsoft is doing wonders. Customer-focused services and products apart, the giant software brand is also finding its way through newer technologies advancing at an accelerated pace. The positive and proactive stance of Microsoft Corporation’s top executives redefines customer experience.
From moulding customer experience to building a strong brand presence, software giants Microsoft and Apple have attained a loyal customer base. The aim has always been to meet the needs of the existing customers, and not just acquiring new ones. This forms the cornerstone of these companies’ brand building strategies and contributes to their phenomenal success.