Finding emotional connections with customers is the Holy Grail for loyalty marketers these days. Depending on the product, achieving this can be monumentally challenging.

Take Safelite Auto Glass, for instance.

Although Safelite doesn’t offer a compelling, intriguing, “must-have” product, company officials focus on emotional connections that impact customer preference and, ultimately, brand loyalty.

Loyalty360 spoke with Renee Cacchillo, senior vice president of Customer, Brand and Technology, Safelite AutoGlass, to learn more about this complex, but vitally important theme.

What challenges are you facing today in creating customer loyalty?
Cacchillo: Auto glass is a low-need, transactional service for most consumers. Using national television advertising, Safelite AutoGlass has built a power brand within the industry. And while research shows Safelite AutoGlass has strong brand awareness, there is still an opportunity to grow preference and loyalty.

And that requires a deeper level of engagement with the brand. So, late last year, the marketing team was tasked with finding ways to build meaningful connections with customers. We’re doing that by identifying passion points and appealing to consumers’ emotions–whether it’s humor, love, or empathy.

I think our audiences might notice a softer tone in our television commercials–from the young family driving their baby around the block to get him to sleep to the mom and daughter trying to squeeze life in between basketball games.

What are some other examples of ways you’re connecting with customers on an emotional level?
Cacchillo: Right now, we’re testing new video concepts within our paid digital advertising strategy. We’ve partnered with Tongal, a crowd-sourced creative platform, to develop new ideas that extend beyond our “Safelite Repair, Safelite Replace” advertisements that showcase our real technicians.

The first is a humorous take on virtual reality gamers and the second is a cute spin on neighborhood kids playing baseball.

What have the results been?
Cacchillo: It’s too early to see the impact of the videos, but initial conversations online of consumers sharing the videos have been fascinating. The level of chatter is a good indicator that people like the videos and will help them connect with our brand.

Are there other new ways you’re reaching customers?
Cacchillo: Yes! We’re finding sports to be a real passion point for customers that allow us to see a halo effect. One example is a partnership with MLB.com during Spring Training.

The official Twitter page for MLB (@MLB) is letting fans know that if their windshield falls victim during spring training games or batting practice, mentioning the @Safelite Twitter handle will get a Safelite AutoGlass technician on site ASAP to fix it. The deal also includes co-branded trivia questions for fans on Twitter.

The partnership actually stemmed from a relationship started last February when a fan’s windshield was hit by a spring training home run. After sharing photos and social buzz on Twitter, Safelite AutoGlass stepped up to replace the fan’s windshield at no charge.

So, it seems that partnering with the MLB is a very natural fit for our business to grow our brand awareness and build preference.

What advice do you have for other brands that are trying to grow preference?
Cacchillo: In the back of your mind, you must always put the customer first. Using our People Powered, Customer Driven strategy, we’re reminded that, in all decisions we make, we have to do what makes the best sense for the customer–not what’s easy for us or what saves us money.

And that applies to marketing too. We test and measure everything so we know if it’s the right message for customers.

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