The 2018 Customer Expo conference began with three informative keynote speakers: Don Fox, CEO of Firehouse Subs; Lonnie Mayne, CEO of Red Shoes Living; and Shawn Moon, Executive Vice President of Franklin Covey. Each speaker addressed a topic of extreme relevance to the customer loyalty industry, and each engaged an audience of conference attendees with amusing anecdotes and emotional stories.
 
Fox discussed the importance of community involvement to a brand’s identity. While he spoke with the caveat that his advice wouldn’t be applicable to 100 percent of brands, he nonetheless suggested that many companies could increase revenue through philanthropic efforts. He based his discussion on research conducted by Technomic and SMG on behalf of Firehouse Subs, which suggested that customer loyalty increases when customers believe brands contribute to charitable causes. This concept is reflected in the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which donates emergency services equipment to communities across the United States.
 
Fox said, “Sometimes people are surprised when I start talking about [marketing] and [its] impact on sales. They say, ‘Gosh, why do you have a public safety foundation ahead of [marketing]? Does that really drive sales?’ You betcha it does, especially for customer-facing brands.”
 
Lonnie Mayne took the stage after Fox to discuss the importance of attitude for driving customer loyalty. He drew upon personal experience to exemplify this issue. He told the story of his father, a professional wrestler who died when Mayne was ten. Before performances, Mayne’s father would spend time with his son backstage but would never allow Mayne to accompany him through the curtain as he walked to the ring. Mayne said this was because his father felt the need to be completely present for the fans who waited to greet him on the runway. This fan-first attitude, as well as his father’s competitiveness, has driven his loyalty work at Red Shoes Living.
 
Mayne said, “If I could reach out and connect with you and know what your stories were, I would engage with you in a completely different way. If you were sad, or anxious, or you didn’t get that much sleep, I would try to connect with you at that level.” This philosophy, Mayne believes, should determine how a brand interacts with its customers, and it’s philosophy that Mayne says his father demonstrated when he went out to greet his fans.
 
The final keynote speech took on an interactive form when Shawn Moon began his presentation. He eschewed the stage and walked among the audience, demonstrating his desire to improve the connection between himself and the audience. This reflected the main theme of his speech, which dealt with the ways brands can strengthen their connections with their customers. After asking audience members to discuss this issue with one another, two members shared stories of how a positive frontline interaction secured greater loyalty to a brand. Moon pointed out that it is these types of interactions that drive loyalty. Though brands tend to invest in loyalty programs, he said, 70 percent of loyalty is achieved through positive customer-to-associate experience.
 
Moon said, “It’s the everyday behaviors of your frontline, the people who are the least paid, the least trained, the highest turnover, that drive loyalty. I was having a discussion with an executive of a major toy retailer, and he said to me, ‘Shawn, I have 25,000 of these people, there’s just no way I can pull these people all offline to train them.’ So what did he do? Nothing—and we kind of know what happened there.” Figuring out how to ingrain the proper frontline behavior is a must for brands operating in the loyalty space.

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