Customer loyalty is akin to a really solid marriage—committed, enduring, and monogamous.
Unfortunately, in today’s fast-moving, ever-changing world, the appeal of “new shiny” brands and products can often distract from the comfort of “old trusted.”
Consumers are less committed to particular brands and make choices more frequently based on price, convenience, and endless other social or emotional motivators.
Brands used to be able to rely on a combination of brand awareness and tradition to keep customers in their fold.
(I’m pretty sure my mother is still slightly ashamed I don’t purchase our selected family lineage of paper towel.)
But that is no longer the case.
Better generic brands, customers empowered with knowledge, convenience, endless options, and e-commerce means both the concept and the strategy behind customer loyalty has radically changed.
Customer Loyalty vs. Variety
Other than my skincare, I have no loyalty to anything, except variety.
Sure, I have certain rules around products I choose to use based on ingredients, production methods, and companies who I want to support (or not support) through my purchase decisions.
My sense of customer loyalty lies completely in variety and convenience.
If I’m loyal to any one brand, it’s Amazon Prime.
So one brand needs to overcome some major emotional obstacles to be good enough for me to “settle down” and become brand monogamous.
So What’s a Brand to Do?
Of course, not everyone is a brand gigolo.
Many people really do have brands they are loyal to.
Heck, in some regions of the United States, people even refer to all soda as “Coke” or “Pepsi” because those brands define what soda is to such an extreme level.
But the fact remains that the face of customer loyalty has changed dramatically.
Think about how Amazon alone changed the way brands acquire, interact with, and retain customers.
Just as Match.com commoditized dating, Amazon and other online retailers have commoditized brand loyalty.
The new informed and empowered consumer has changed the dynamic, and the onus is on brands to understand their ideal customer’s motivation to purchase from both a qualitative and quantitative level in order to compete.
Customer Experience: A Powerful Force in Brand Loyalty
And, after doing that they MUST prioritize their customer experience.
If there is one weapon a brand has to retain customers it’s customer experience.
Customer loyalty does not exist without a positive customer experience. It’s a tune we sing over and over again, yet somehow it still seems to fall upon deaf ears at many organizations.
The best communications in the world, most targeted message, well-groomed and strategic pitch will only go so far if you don’t make the customer the center point of everything you do.
Without focus on the customer service mechanism at work in an organization AND integrating it into all other parts of the communications strategy, an organization throws loyalty (and revenue) out the door.
I mean it…really throws money out the door.
The latest statistics show it costs about five times more to acquire a new customer than keep an old one.
Why Loyalty Programs Work
Think loyalty programs offered by hotels, airlines, and retailers are a great idea to increase customer loyalty and retention, but they won’t work for your organization?
- You don’t have the logistics?
- The cost for organization and software is too high?
- It doesn’t work for your business model?
Think again. Even if you don’t want to bother with points or tracking, one of the biggest reasons loyalty programs work is that customer experience almost always tends to be better for loyal customers than it is for new or drive-by customers.
Find your favorite loyalty program and take a look at their customer experience efforts.
Then see what takeaways you can use for your own organization.
Customer Loyalty Facts You Can Take to the Bank
Ok, ok, you know this.
I know this.
So how do you get company leaders to invest in customer service and build a customer-focused culture?
Customer loyalty and the customer service which feeds it, directly translate into business growth and financial goals.
Here are some stats for your next presentation to prove it.
Customer Loyalty Lowers Costs and Increases Revenue
- One-third of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after a single incident of bad service.
- Avoidable customer loss costs US businesses $136 billion a year.
- A two percent increase in customer retention is the same as cutting costs by 10 percent.
Customer Loyalty Means Repeat Purchase
- Eighty percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is five to 20 percent (That’s up to 14 times more likely to buy, or five on average).
- Ninety percent of customers will purchase more than once.
- Ninety-three percent of customers make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.
- In the U.S., 40 percent of online shopping revenue comes from repeat customers (and those customers only make up eight percent of site visitors).
Loyal Customer Bring Friends
- Customers are 77 percent more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from family and friends.
- Forty-three percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on social media.
- News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
Measurement is Key
- Eighty percent of companies surveyed by Lee Research say they deliver “superior” customer service, but only eight percent of people thought these same companies deliver “superior” customer service.
Survey customers and set clear performance metrics internally and externally to measure customer loyalty and how well your customer service programs really work.
Customer Loyalty Matters
Customer loyalty and strategies to increase it are important to everything we do as communicators for organizations.
Any communications plan which doesn’t consider it is missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.