Fight for Customer loyalty everyday, as if there’s no next day!
Fight for Customer loyalty everyday, as if there’s no next day! Branding is the promises you make. Your brand is the promises you keep. That said, consider how many promises for service, speed, pricing, value, benefits, add-ons, discounts, delivery, support, service guarantees, safety, and ROI can easily be ‘broken’.
If you want Growth, you have to have loyal (and increasing) Customers
Every Marketer and the small business owner wants to Grow. So, there’s no better purpose and BIG objective, than to have large numbers of repeat purchases. Loyal customers. Again and again. Easy, right? No!
Only strong brands with on-going evolving offerings, that touch-base emotionally and in service-excellence, and in the right price can be sure of (more) Loyalty. Strong Brands stand for something in our minds.
We prefer to buy them over the competition, not for the sole reason, but for a whole set of benefits. We choose them (the strong ones) because the value-exchange with them is bigger. The Brands that are fit for Loyalty (and then for Growth) signal to Customers, 24/7, the kind of quality and service they in-turn expect.
Why Brand Loyalty declines in all industries
Over the last years, all indicators show that brand loyalty is in decline. I’ve seen it in global markets, in global companies and to all local businesses I’ve supported in Advertising and PR service industry. It is easy to explain the phenomenon:
- Customers have more online options to consider and compare, at their fingertip, looking for the best value instead of choosing and sticking with a routine behaviour as they’ve done for years. The 85% of B2B pre-sales search is already happening online.
- Transformation changes and disrupts companies no matter the size, and in that change phase companies neglect Customer policies and their higher expectations, moving them slowly to competitors.
- Customers have more power. Access, easiness, for more information, more benefits, more experiences in the web economy so they’re being educated now that when searching they will find the best choice.
- Owners neglect Branding: “Branding is the promises that you make. Your brand is the promises you keep.” That said, consider how many promises for service, speed, pricing, value, benefits, add-ons, discounts, delivery, support, service guarantees, safety, and ROI can easily be ‘broken’. This is a great disconnect between what your marketing is promising to audiences, and what they are actually experiencing as a Customer.
- Companies have eroded trust in the marketplaces. If you look into the consecutive years’ Edelman Trust Barometer you will realize what’s at stake. Companies are accused (beware: in word-of-mouth ‘channel’) for doing great injustices against the public, and their Customers. Why would audiences feel loyal to a Brand, if they don’t feel the same loyalty in exchange?
- The importance of (read more) Marketing pricing strategy.
- The importance of giving unique personalized experiences. Give them more info, more transparency, more ease, more options, more payment options, more personal data safety, more support, more benefits, more design-friendly, more storytelling …than any competitor you have. This is the ‘recipe’ to stay competitive, increase loyal behaviours, grow more and stay in the post-recession game.
- The importance of training expert staff in all Customer touch-points. It starts with a smile and it goes to consulting stance (yes, even on your website) that helps choices, preference, affinity, and repeat purchase.
Owners say: “I’m financing Customer sales”
Yes, you do a lot. I’m sure you try hard to fight for your business. But Customer is the reason for being, right? The customer is a long-term relationship. It can be an e-mail, a click, an endorsement, a coupon, a mobile text, or anything else, but it must be true and on-going relationships!
Loyalty is a two-way street. You don’t ‘buy’ Customer’s mind and heart (loyalty) by mass marketing anymore, or hoping that your credentials (XXX years in the market) will keep them with you.
Owners and Company systems should change urgently how they think and act about the Brand, the Customer, the Exchange. As of 1988 working in Marketing & Communications, I was always getting customer briefs claiming “we’re customer-first”. None of those was true. The companies (retail, banking, energy, FMCG’s) weren’t doing what they’ve claimed and Customers now are more mature; they know!
Fight for your Customer; you’ve invested so much to get one in your doorstep. Don’t overlook their preferences and desires. Listen to those, research, audit your market, go out of the office.
Understand and deliver. Then you’ll thrive.
Stimuli to discuss and share
IBM now offers to business owners that visualization and quantification of the paths customers take over time, so everyone can understand customers’ needs and clear the way for positive outcomes. Without any special domain experience, you and your team can look at the paths taken by top customers at an aggregate level and see what is going on with their most valuable customers. You don’t have to be a digital or database specialist. With IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics, you can select from a variety of journey parameters, including the number of days you want to analyze. For example, you can study the top five paths—in revenue generated, time to completion and so on—traveled by people in different customer segments. Or you might want to see which paths are least successful according to a user-defined outcome such as purchase, registration or abandonment. A single interface makes it all simple.
(source: IBM best-cases)
The average consumer today owns four devices and consumes 60 hours of digital content per week. Gain an understanding of your customer’s journey and increase loyalty, retention and sales.
Analyze your Customer’s journey
- Study your current customers. What has changed?
- Prepare your customer loyalty program. What is unique to them?
- Set goals, and measure them with a CRM approach. What’s the most wanted action you put forward, to measure?
- Set a budget. It’s your ‘pilot’ investment; do it wisely.
- Decide which customers to target. Are you targeting the affluent ones, the low-cost ones? Who specifically?
- Choose tactics that will encourage client loyalty. From the welcome / thank you e-mail, up to the physical store staff’s script. List them all to make those a company culture and experience.
Practice the 80/20 rule
Roughly speaking, possibly 80% of your revenue is being generated by 20% of your customers. All customers are not created equal. Some represent more long-term value to your firm than others. A smart business owner (brick-and-mortar, or website owner, or service agency) segments and measures by value and monitors activities closely to ensure high-value customers get their fair share of special offers, attention, and results.
Rank your customers according to actual net revenue generated over the past year. Next, rank your customers regarding lifetime value. Compare the two lists and make sure you are adequately investing in customer programs that provide for high-ranking customers on both lists.
The Art of Customer-loyalty: analyze complaints!
In a world where your competitors are only a click away, customer loyalty really is your new marketing key-task. Today’s customers have access to an endless amount of information about your business, and research shows that they’re ready and willing to stop dating around and stick with companies who go above and beyond to create a fantastic experience.
Also, they are loud and very vocal in complaining, commenting, evaluating. So, aggressively seek out customer complaints. How many times did you have poor service but did not complain and just never returned to that business? It’s probably the same for many others.
For most companies, only 10% of complaints are articulated by customers. The other 90% manifest themselves in many negative ways: late payment, unpaid invoices, lack of courtesy of your service or worse yet, negative word of mouth. With the Internet, an unhappy customer can now reach thousands of your would-be customers, fast.
First serve, then sell
In all of my professional life in Advertising and PR I’ve rarely seen business owners have patience and commitment to customer service quality, measurement, and improvements. Instead, they were pushing for sales volume and outspending competition (easy calls).
In any business type, you have to deliver exceptional service, listen to the customer, improve every day, and over-deliver to stay around… Only then, you’ve built the foundations of Trust that preempts positive presales effort and actual sales success.
Customer Loyalty isn’t a promo; it should be inside the company’s DNA.