Surprising and delighting customers’ when business is functioning as expected is great, but if a company can do so in the midst of a crises? They’re nailing it.

Picture this, you’re hard at work, nearing a deadline, in your modern, open-concept (and super noisy) workspace. Your creative juices are flowing, and you’re jamming to a stimulating workday playlist.  Suddenly, the music streaming site (which you pay $9.95 per month to use commercial-free) crashes and is completely inoperable, resulting in hindered concentration and a major creative block. You’re upset. And for a moment, you question your loyalty to the brand.

This exact scenario occurred for many Spotify customers when the site crashed a few months ago. Afterward, Spotify responded to customers’ concerns promptly and across all channels, and continued this type of customer engagement long after the problem was fixed.

One customer was wowed by the customer experience when she tweeted @SpotifyCares after realizing there was an issue. Spotify’s immediate response and innovative use of its own product resulted in this exchange:

If you click on the link, you’ll see a personalized message to Sophia in playlist form. Talk about customer obsessed! This is just one of many examples which prove that Spotify looks at every occurrence, even a website malfunction, as an opportunity to innovate, improve the customer experience and inspire its users; all things that make Spotify relentlessly relevant.

In our Brand Relevance Index, Prophet identified the brands which are relentlessly relevant in consumer lives. More than 10,000 U.S. consumers ranked 400 brands in 27 distinct industries, resulting in a list of the top 50 most relentlessly relevant brands. The metric of relevance is crucial to businesses when determining the likelihood of long-term success.

Did you know? 80 percent of customers say that they’re more loyal to brands that continue to find new ways of being relevant in their lives.

A relentlessly relevant brand, according to Prophet’s findings, must do four key things:

  1. Be Customer Obsessed
  2. Build Brands that are Distinctively Inspired
  3. Be Pervasively Innovative
  4. Be Ruthlessly Pragmatic

Spotify ranks in the top ten on the Brand Relevance Index and is a leader in the Internet Services & Retailing industry. In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into Spotify’s business practices and how the company outshines competitors like Pandora, Tidal and AppleMusic.

Customer Obsessed

Spotify was ranked as one of the top five customer-obsessed brands because it continually works to uncover and act upon evolving customer insights to improve the overall experience. But the company doesn’t stop there; they embrace customers as partners by taking co-creation, collaboration and participation to entirely new levels.

Spotify actively listens to its users by collecting customer data and leveraging it to improve recommendations, playlists and special offers for listeners. For example, Spotify creates a “Discover Weekly” playlist for each user based on what they’ve listened to recently. This allows Spotify to help its users discover and enjoy new music every week.

Distinctively Inspired

Spotify is unique because it allows users to create public playlists, follow and listen to the curated playlists of other users and engage in a community where much of the content is created by its user base. Of this creator community, 55 percent are connected via Facebook meaning they’re not just accessing public playlists created by other users, but actively engaging with what their Facebook friends are listening to, sharing and following on the Spotify platform. This element of community is distinctive to Spotify and creates an asset that customers simply can’t receive anywhere else.

Spotify also excels in building a brand that is distinctively inspired by engaged employees that deliver the brand promise every day. Spotify encourages employee engagement by empowering its employees to get creative, be themselves and make independent decisions on social media. For example, in response to a customer tweeting “I love Spotify,” one social engagement employee responded with a link to a love song. Spotify has created an organization that is inspiring to its employees so that these employees feel motivated to spread that inspiration in both customer service and social customer engagement.

Pervasively Innovative

Spotify’s brand is inextricably linked to pervasive innovation; it is nimble, responsive to current trends and never misses an opportunity to create authentic, innovative engagement. Take a look at some of their brand partnerships:

  • In a partnership with Uber, users could listen to their own Spotify playlist while riding in an Uber.
  • Users can link directly to their Spotify accounts from the Playstation 3 and 4 networks. With over 90 million PS3s and 4s sold, this innovative partnership has helped Spotify dramatically expand its market.
  • Spotify partnered with mobile providers like Telecom to include Spotify as part of their plans.
  • And in a major innovative breakthrough, before the season 6 premier of Game of Thrones, Spotify users could access a website that would analyze their listening habits and tell the user which Game of Thrones character he or she was, based on the user’s music taste. The user would then be directed to that character’s particular playlist.

Spotify doesn’t hesitate to partner with products, companies, third-party apps, DJs, charities, or festivals that allow them to offer an innovative product, or to offer their original product in an innovative way.

Ruthlessly Pragmatic

Spotify has also established relevance by being ruthlessly pragmatic in its advertising strategy, its interactions with artists and its technical features. Spotify knows that artists are a key part of its business model, and from a practical standpoint, Spotify knows that the low per-stream royalties paid to artists, while preferable to piracy, still ruffle some artists’ feathers. Disputes over low royalties have caused artists such as Taylor Swift and ACDC to withdraw from the platform altogether.

While Spotify has little room for flexibility on royalties, it has made a concerted effort to make its platform uniquely valuable to artists by offering “Spotify Fan Insights,” an analytics dashboard that allows every artist on the platform to track the music preferences, demographics, geographic locations and engagement levels of its fans.

In another stroke of pragmatic brilliance, Spotify discovered that customers who use both desktop and mobile spend over 150 minutes per day on Spotify and in response created a completely seamless mobile/desktop experience.

Final Thoughts

With over 5 million Spotify playlists created or edited daily, Spotify has clearly developed a successful formula for remaining top-of-the-mind to consumers, artists and other businesses. While Spotify checks each requisite box for a relevant brand, the aspect that contributes most strongly to its continued relevance is its customer obsession. Spotify is so obsessed with its customers that it creates individualized playlists to apologize to a single user. This customer obsession is so crucial because it has created a virtuous circle in which Spotify users are just as obsessed with the service as the service is with them. This cycle supports the other key pillars of relevance, continuously bolstering innovation and inspiration and most importantly brand relevance.

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