What do you think of when you hear the word “wave?” Maybe you’re a sports fan, and it conjures memories of jumping up and down in a stadium. Maybe you’re a surfer, and it makes you want to hit the beach. Or maybe you, like me, have a toddler, and the word reminds you of an adorable, chubby hand, bouncing back and forth as you exit a room. Whatever you think of when you hear “wave,” the one thing most of us connote with waving is saying “hello” or goodbye to others. It’s a habit, a ritual, and it’s almost universally accepted. That’s why W.A.V.E. works as an effective mnemonic device for customer engagement, too!
In this acronym, “W.A.V.E.” stands for making customers feel “Welcomed,” “Appreciated,” “Validated,” and “Engaged.” Combined, these emotions build off of one another, similarly to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, to provide high-quality customer service and an enjoyable customer experience. They also ensure that customers tell their friends, families, and colleagues, turning the original sale into a ton of referrals. Think of an ocean wave and the energy that moves through water to create enormous power.
In short, when applied consistently, the Superfan W.A.V.E. results in loyal, engaged customers that love your brand and share it, bringing even more superfans to your metaphorical doorstep. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share this system step-by-step along with prompts to help you create a culture of superfandom for your brand.
Want to dive right in? Sign up for my free five-day video course that goes straight to the deep end of the Superfan W.A.V.E. (And, yes: there are bad puns throughout the video series, too!). Every day you’ll receive a training video, plus carefully-curated challenges, quotes, and statistics to help you become a CX expert in no time.
An Overview of the Superfan W.A.V.E.
At its core, the Superfan W.A.V.E. is all about using customer engagement to bring in referrals as often as possible. In this system, these highly engaged customers are known as “superfans,” or “customers or collaborators who over-index in their affinity for a brand, company, person, or service, thereby increasing the chance they will advocate on its behalf as part of everyday life.” In other words, these customers had such an awesome experience with you and your brand that they can’t help but share that experience with others. They also won’t even bother looking at your competitors, as they’re simply too satisfied with your products and services.
Essentially, by exercising the Superfan W.A.V.E. system with your customers – every customer, that is – you create a positive feedback loop of happy clients and new referrals. Additionally, besides these benefits of great customer service, there are also a ton of other positive “side effects,” including:
- Building your reputation as a customer-centric business.
- Learning crucial insights to improve your sales process or service efforts.
- Ensuring customers stick around, boosting their lifetime value.
- Demonstrating that you practice what you preach (i.e. You don’t simply say you care about your customers. You prove it in every interaction with them).
Additionally, the Superfan W.A.V.E. isn’t just for company executives or team leaders. It’s for everyone on your team, from the CEO meeting potential partners to the greeter welcoming customers at the door. After all, if every team member feels empowered with the same customer-first attitude – and the tried-and-true methods to put that attitude into practice – the chance of bad customer experiences or low customer engagement is next to zero. Sounds like the dream, right?
W is for “Welcomed”
To begin, the foundation of the Superfan W.A.V.E, and the first component of customer engagement, is making customers feel welcome. For new customers, trying out a new brand for their favorite product or service comes with a certain level of risk. Whether they’re considering your brand to solve a problem or as an alternative to their current choice, they want to know right out of the gate that you don’t simply notice them. You want their business and are prepared to do whatever you can to ensure the best experience possible. That way, they can rely on your brand for the foreseeable future and avoid the hassle of switching brands again.
Furthermore, providing a welcoming environment isn’t just for new customers. It’s also for existing customers, who have the potential to repeatedly purchase from your brand. So, when a new customer gives you a call, keep the conversation friendly and honest. When an existing customer buys from you a second time, reach out with the same enthusiasm as you did initially. When a longtime customer refers their friends, consider an extra level of service (discounts, add-on offerings, etc.) to welcome them and show the original customer that you want to live up to their description. No matter how long you’ve known them or how much they’ve bought, every customer should feel welcome and accepted every time they interact with a member of your team.
A is for “Appreciated”
The second step to building customer engagement is making customers feel appreciated. Nowadays, the number of options for any product or service can be overwhelming, and being welcoming towards interested customers isn’t necessarily enough to ensure they purchase from you on a regular basis. In fact, feeling unappreciated is the number-one reason customers switch service providers, and customers will spend 17% more money to do business with a company that offers great customer service. That’s a lot of money at risk for such a simple problem.
To avoid this loss, your job is to consistently communicate to your customers how much you appreciate them. Maybe it’s a discount offer for repeat customers, or a handwritten thank you card from your CEO. Maybe it’s a personalized two-minute “thank you” video from your support team on their birthday. The tangible gift options are endless, not to mention all of the personalized messages and virtual shoutouts you can create!
That said, regardless of how you thank your customers, the key is to be consistent. Through words and actions, they should be able to see that you don’t just appreciate them when they have money to spend. You see them as more than a sale and value their individual interest, trust, and support for your brand. Not to be cheesy (okay, maybe a little bit 🙂 ), but it’s like the 1967 Beatles hit says: “All you need is love.” If your customers know you care, they’re much more likely to stick around, stay engaged, and tell others how awesome you are.
V is for “Validated”
The third step to customer engagement, the “V” in “W.A.V.E.,” is making your customers feel validated. For this step, think about the last time you spoke to a company representative about a problem you ran into with their product or service. Did they brush you off or actively listen throughout the conversation? Did they go out of their way to help or simply answer with “Well, none of our other customers are experiencing this problem, so it’s not our fault?” If they actively listened and worked to help, you’re probably remembering that experience with a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude. On the other hand, if they were dismissive and condescending, that memory is probably frustrating, even if it took place years ago.
Likewise, in every interaction with your customers, your words and actions can have a lasting impact. To make sure that impact is positive, validating their questions, concerns, or feelings is critical. In the last section, I mentioned that appreciation shows customers you care about them beyond the initial point of sale. However, validating your customers shows that you care even when they’re unhappy. Just like you want your favorite companies to support you, your customers want you to support them. Plain and simple.
E is for “Engaged”
Finally, the last aspect of customer engagement – and the final letter in W.A.V.E. – is making customers feel engaged. Through each of these sections, part of what makes a great customer experience is welcoming customers that come to you. Yet, it’s also imperative that you don’t wait for customers to engage with you first. Occasionally, you have to make the first move, and say, “Hey, thanks for supporting us! Let’s get to know each other better so we can be the best partner possible!”
To do this, there are dozens of ways to connect with your customers where they’re already active. Think social media, live events, phone conversations, or email newsletters. Across these platforms, the question you need to ask is, “How am I engaging customers consistently across channels to create a cohesive experience?” Ideally, your answer should include a variety of these avenues. Think regular “check-in” emails and social media posts that keep your brand top-of-mind for your customers. Plus, by making your brand visible, you also reinforce how approachable you are. This adds to the positive association customers have with your brand and leading them to tell others about it. Win, win!
Ultimately, this is just a quick intro to the Superfan W.A.V.E. and the many benefits that inevitably result from a stellar customer service strategy. For more information, check out the next step in my Superfan Series, “The Foundation Of A Great Customer Experience: Making Your Customers Feel Welcomed.”
As always, feel free to hit me up @BrittanyHodak on social media, too, and share how your favorite brand makes waves (I just had to work in one more joke! 😉 ) in the world of customer service!