Eugène Schoen

Learning from Loyalty Leaders

“Put great things out. And you’ll get great things back.” Robin Sharma

Learning in a changing world

Loyalty Building has always been a major strategical issue for businesses. Retaining customers, making them happy has become even more of a challenge in these challenging post crisis times where companies discover customers driven by new values and motivations (connected, ethics driven, quality seeking, community conscious) .

Understanding how some successful swiss companies with loyal customers motivated them seemed then important to me. Knowing today the key role of customer experience, I was curious to understand how corporate leadership influenced their approach to loyalty.

Learnings from Robin Sharma

Having managed this summer Swiss Marketing’s social media platforms to promote the “Inspire for Excellence” Symposium with Robin Sharma held last Friday on IMD’s Campus in Lausanne, I got the opportunity to participate to this great event and hear what one of the world’s most inspiring leadership experts had to say.

Here are three key learnings for businesses from Robin Sharma’s workshop that apply to Loyalty Building:

  1. To have loyal customers, businesses must show loyalty to them.
  2. To be competitive, companies must focus on what they do best & improve continually
  3. In order to make a difference in the mind of their customers, they must deliver the greatest possible value

Learning from Loyalty Leaders

Some of the most successful swiss companies (Nespresso, with loyal customers in my study apply these key learnings. They express gratitude regularly and show loyalty to their customers in small and big ways. They focus on what they do best and deliver more value than expected. Most of all, theses businesses know why they sell online, produce great coffees and provide outstanding medical services. For those reasons their clients respect them, recommend them and keep coming back.

What is your opinion on the relationship between loyalty & leadership ? Would you like to share a comment ?

Come out and Tweet !

Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it. Winston Churchill

First year on Twitter

One year after my first tweet, one thing is sure: Twitter is special !

Beginning on Twitter takes an open mind, curiosity and the tools to engage with the Twittersphere. To be honest following multiple timelines can be quite challenging, specially when the people you follow live all around the world in different time zones !

But Twitter grows on you with every tweet, every new person you get to follow & know, every relationship you get to build. Messages might be limited to 140 characters but you discover everyday new ways to pass messages, be more creative on followfridays and engage.

Spontaneous interactions & Sharing

Twitter is about spontaneous interactions and sharing. Having covered live on Twitter last year’s Inspire for Excellence Symposium with Stephen MR Covey for the Swiss Marketing Club, I’ll always remember when I started receiving during the conference spontaneous retweet translations of quotes in portuguese and spanish from followers in Brasil and Venezuela !

With this special post I would like to thank all of my followers all around the world for their loyalty as well as my good friend Yann Graf a swiss multimedia project specialist, who introduced me to Twitter one year ago.

Twitter has been so far a very stimulating experience that has helped me to develop awareness on the importance of rebuilding customer loyalty, specially in these challenging times. It has also been a great opportunity to find some new loyal tweetfriends.

Come out and Tweet !

As I explained to a swiss firm in Vevey, during a Twitter Workshop in July, to understand better micro-blogging and Twitter you need to tweet, just as you must get your kite flying in the air to start having fun ! So tweet on !

What do you think about Twitter ? I’d be glad to have your feedbacks !

Blending Loyalty with Location

Location, Location, Location.  – Old Hospitality Management saying

Locate & Engage

Location based services are really hype at the moment. In fact, they are becoming a major social media trend with innovative platforms emerging such as Twitter Places.

What started as urban viral games could well bridge part of the gap between online communities and real people. As Wired Magazine stated it recently in an article, shouting location details to friends is the next logical step for users who bought online, googled and tweeted statuses.

For marketers, user location is the base of 4C communication strategies (content, context, community, connection). Locating users and consumers is a good way to assess their social activities, look for focused audiences and engage them.

Foursquared Loyalty?

Gameplay based actually !

A major challenge today in social media is to empower users / consumers in a fun way to ACT. Services such as Foursquare and Gowalla with their innovative gameplay – motivate users to check-in, win badges and get as many mayorships as they can.

Speaking about Loyalty building & Location, Foursquare’s business model statement comes to mind: “Helping users connect with local business and helping local businesses connect with their best consumers”.

Logically Foursquare launched this spring analytics tools and dashboard to provide local merchants & small businesses with more information about their customers, monitor registered loyal consumer check-ins and reward loyalty accordingly.

Connecting with their best & more loyal consumers will certainly be a major loyalty building challenge for brands and point of sales. So stay tuned for more posts to come on this subject !

What do you think about Location based services such as Foursquare or Gowalla ? Do you think they are creating a new way of communicating ? Do you think they are bridging the gap between online communities and real people ? Let me have your feedbacks !

Spotting Consumer Needs

It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. Helen Keller

The WOM Effect

In the midst of the Social Media Revolution, there has never been so many platforms to communicate messages and develop dynamically word of mouth (WOM) around projects & causes. As my study and recent seminar showed, a great part of the success of loyalty building campaigns is based on the ability of companies to deliver real value to their customers: promising is not enough anymore.

Needspotting in a new world

The ability to spot consumer needs has always been a key management skill. As companies need to change the ways they engage with increasingly informed and concerned consumers, the needspotting skill is becoming so much more important. Simply because New Media lets companies address directly & individually consumers that react.

Starting with the end in mind

Building strategies with the user in mind is the challenge.

Speaking of this new user-based strategies during a lunch, Yann Graf a good friend and Multimedia Project Manager, mentioned Foodspotting. This social media platform is a visual local guide that lets you find dishes instead of just restaurants. Working as a food Foursquare (with badges), Foodspotting lets users decide what dishes they want to show to their friends.

Although we cannot be certain of the success it’ll have, the thinking behind Foodspotting reflects this new building around the consumer drive that motivates also Location Based services (Foursquare, Gowalla): being closer to the user.

Interested in Loyalty Building & New Media trends & opportunities ? Don’t hesitate to join my group on LinkedIn for more content on these subjects in english & french.

What do you think  about the challenge of spotting needs of the new consumers ? I’d be glad to have your feedback.

New Seminar, New Challenges

Learning never exhausts the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

Learning & Sharing

When I started my Loyalty Building & New Media Study one year ago, I would have never thought that there would be so much interest from entrepreneurs in Suisse romande and that I would be organizing a Conference / Seminar for the Swiss Marketing Club – Lausanne

On April 29th 2010 this precisely happened as I got the opportunity to share with 30 marketing & sales professionals of different business backgrounds (telecom, banking, consulting & tourism) some of the best practices learned throughout my study and teach some basic loyalty building skills at the Hotel d’Angleterre & Résidence in Lausanne.

New Seminar, Interesting Questions

Some very interesting questions were raised during the conference by the audience. Here are some good examples & future entrepreneur challenges:

  1. In the midst of the actual social media revolution, what is the importance of Loyalty Building in future of innovative communication strategies ?
  2. How do you re-engage customers in positive long-term business relationships ?
  3. During the workshop, many participants asked themselves whether offering services was enough to keep customers satisfied, as delivering is so important to meet real expectations.

Many of these topics will be developed in future posts. So stay tuned for more as a slideshare of the presentation will be published soon ! In the meantime I’d like to thank the participants of this seminar / conference for their motivation and interest in this special & hopefully useful day.

Do you have any questions ? Would you like to add any comment ?

Tweet & Shake Experience

What have an iPhone, a Nintendo DS and a Wii in common?

Simple yet sophisticated, each of these products are particularly successful in very competitive markets. But what is so special about them ?

These highly innovative concepts combine natural physical interaction, social connection potential and great user experience with strong brands to reinvent the way you use your phone, access the web or play games.

Along their Tweet & Shake experiences, they add practical value by making life easier through Apps and helping personal development via virtual DS brain trainers & coaches.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. – Steve Jobs

Is this just the beginning ?

Considering the promising recently launched Apple iPad, forthcoming Tablet competitors and future products from Nintendo the answer is YES !

Tweeting, tapping, shaking & tilting is not only changing the way you phone or play games. It is changing the way stories are told to new generations of consumers. Check the new Alice App e-book and you will have a better idea of the iPad’s storytelling potential !

So does consumer success = innovation + fun + good brand ?

Adding value and making life easier for the consumer are important too.

At a recent Swiss Marketing Club conference on buzz marketing held in Lausanne, the speaker, Mr. Olivier Perez Kennedy insisted on how important it is to add value when engaging consumers in social media campaigns.

This is also true speaking of loyalty building as my 2009 study showed. Companies with loyal customers such as Nespresso improve constantly customer experience and add value by offering more of what clients expect of them: refined coffee experiences, high quality product & service.

What do you think of Tweet & Shake Experience ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

Rewinding Swiss Tourism

Why doesn’t Swiss Tourism use more social media platforms to promote its destinations and brands ?

A country renowned for its world-famous ski resorts (St-Moritz, Verbier, Villars, Crans-Montana, Zermatt), great lakeside cities (Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne) and chocolate should be far more active as it offers modern hospitality infrastructures and efficient public transport networks.

This is even more suprising knowing that some new companies base successfully their marketing strategies on new media. Such is for example the case of an innovation hotel chain based in the Netherlands called CitizenM which uses YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to engage urban mobile consumers and promote its brand.

Is Swiss Tourism too cautious about social media ?

A professional approach is necessary.

Engaging consumers via new media is not as easy as some big companies like Nestlé are discovering. Managing a Facebook page, for example, isn’t just posting statuses and videos for friends but interacting with new followers. Developing communities on Twitter and Facebook require specific storytelling & conversation skills as consumers and companies can both engage conversations.

Why are New Media so important for Swiss Tourism Management ?

As a good friend was telling me recently, social media, geolocalization, augmented reality and GPS guided tours offer infinite possibilities to create events and promote destinations.

Just take example of the city of Basel that sends you a little pack of Baslerläckerli for your birthday if you checked in the Basel Train Station in the last year and are not living in Switzerland. Isn’t this a great way of associating emotions to a brand ? Isn’t this a great way of building loyalty ?

This example just shows the importance of new media and the strategic necessity to acquire the conversation 2.0 skills to remain competitive.

What do you think about tourism brands using new media to engage consumers ? Do you have any examples you would like to share ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

Attention meets Gratitude

If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent. – Isaac Newton

Re-Introducing attention

Without customer attention, the best communication strategies are useless !

Several managers interviewed for my study “Fidélisation & Nouvelles Technologies” (Loyalty & New Media) mentioned the importance to stand out with their approaches in a market where the consumer can get confused & annoyed by the abundance of loyalty cards and programs.

When it comes to Loyalty Building saying thanks is a necessity, specially in the present times. But how can you thank your customer and stand out ? How can your company make a difference ? As my study showed in 2009, companies with loyal customers seize every opportunity to show them gratitude personally.

When attention meets gratitude

Inviting your customers to well-chosen events can be a good way of showing gratitude and getting your customer’s attention as I learned managing two series of golf tournaments for an insurance company, Swiss Life (2004-2005).

Golf players are usually passionate about their game and share a strong common competition spirit. So when they get the opportunity to play and network on some of the nicest courses (Crans-Montana, Domaine Impérial , Voëns) around the Lake of Geneva, companies have a good chance of getting the attention they want.

But making successful events is not easy as many factors need to be taken in consideration. Learn more in my future posts about event management & loyalty building.

Do you also see events as an effective way to meet customers in good conditions to develop relationships and confidence ? Do you have any other examples you’d like to share ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

Tell & Engage

Great communicators are great explainers – John Baldoni

Tell & Engage

Every brand has a story to tell and an opportunity to engage customers.

Storytelling is very important as a loyal reader commented on my recent Matching Tourism & New Media post. Some brands like Nespresso combine successfully traditional and new media to communicate & explain their story.

As brands are becoming media and a growing number of companies (Burson-Marsteller social media study: 79 % of companies listed on “Fortune 100”) use social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook …), content management is more than ever a key strategic communication skill to develop a brand, a destination or a service.

Storytelling or storyplaying?

There is a difference between “being told” a story and playing it. This isn’t just true only for video games projects anymore. It also applies to the way we tell stories with new media platforms, just as the new Wired Digital Magazine shows:

Building loyalty with content

Social media is changing the rules of engagement and turning Storytelling into storyplaying . But as I discovered developing my Twitter community, having an account and tweeting from time to time isn’t enough. Every social object is an opportunity to tell your story, produce regular relevant content, interact and build loyalty.

What is for you the importance of stories in building brand content & engaging customers ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

Re:active Listening

ssttt... just listen - Skeet (Flickr)

“Seek first to understand then to be understood.”
Stephen R. Covey


As part of the active communication process, listening is a key-skill when it comes to building loyalty in the Tourism sector & service based operations.

I’ll always remember a comment of a hotel manager  I met in Switzerland five years ago: “You can learn a lot if you TAKE THE  TIME to listen to your customer.” In the hospitality business context, this comment made perfect sense then. Considering the actual economic situation & customer confidence loss, this comment seems – for many businesses – even more appropriate today.

Taking the time to LISTEN

While working on my “Fidélisation & Nouvelles Technologies” (= Loyalty & New Media) study, I had the opportunity to interview some renowned firms (Nespresso, Switcher, …) as well as more local, service-based companies such as restaurants, garages and gyms.

Asked what they did to keep their customers in the present times, managers of these smaller companies with loyal customers mentioned taking time to listen & giving service according to their needs.

Taking time to listen has a vital function: helping managers understand individual customer situations and choose the appropriate responses to dissipate misunderstandings and frustration.

Listening = Loyalty Building Opportunities ?

Based on the comments I got from managers during my 30 interviews, the answer is YES !

Good basic communication is very important to build customer loyalty and confidence. Taking time to listen, whatever it takes, shows how much you care about your clients. This is usually really appreciated.

Companies active in service/contact based businesses who wish to rebuild loyalty should seriously consider empowering their employees and developing their listening skills.

What is your opinion ? How would you improve employees listening skills ?  I’d be glad to have your feedbacks !