Customer loyalty is a hot topic, but what exactly is a loyal customer? The first thing that might come to mind is “a customer who keeps doing business with you.” That sounds reasonable; however, it’s also incomplete.
It’s likely that some repeat customers come back only because they are under a binding contract, intimidated by the process of changing providers, or sticking with you from sheer force of habit. In each case, it wouldn’t take much for a competitor to lure them away. That is why customer loyalty, real loyalty, is such a critical factor in your company’s success.
A more comprehensive definition of a loyal customer is one who believes in the value of what you have to offer; who has evaluated you as the best available option; and who continues to choose your service or product over the competition and encourages others to do the same.
Within this definition are three distinct aspects of customer loyalty. Let’s take a closer look at them and what you can do to influence each type.
The emotional aspect is crucial in the relationship between customer and company, and a powerful driver of the other two types of loyalty. Customers not only want to feel like they can trust your company; ideally, they also like your company. Other important emotional values include friendliness, attitude, and “cool factor.” A value proposition that is associated with these sentiments will be much more likely to invoke loyalty.
Emotional loyalty is especially important in fields where big financial interests and sensitive data meet personal experiences, like the banking industry. Events like the financial crisis, market instability, and bank account hacks can damage customer loyalty, and (re)building trust is key. To maximize emotional loyalty:
- Be transparent in your communication with customers.
- Make customer service a top priority throughout the organization.
- Show customizers that you care through your marketing and advertising messages.
This aspect of customer loyalty reflects the logical, unemotional side of the customer’s purchase decision. In other words: do your customers think they are getting the best deal? To maximize rational loyalty:
- Reward repeat customers.
- During the sale, clearly outline the tangible benefits you can offer.
- Offer attractive extras, like credit cards that earn points, flyer miles or cash-back rewards.
Finally, transactional or behavioral loyalty can be seen as momentum. Once a customer starts buying from a particular business or becomes attached to a brand, as long as emotional and rational loyalty are each well-nurtured, transactional loyalty follows and becomes habitual. Because this type of loyalty is so heavily reliant on the other two, it can be derailed if a customer becomes dissatisfied emotionally or rationally.
To optimize the shopping process itself:
- Make sure all service channels, including websites and apps, are easy to use and up to date.
- Various service channels should be connected; customers should be able to shop however, whenever and wherever.
- Offer extras that make shopping fun, like gamification elements or apps that reward customer engagement.
Building customer loyalty can seem like a complicated process. Understanding it, however, starts with a simple step: knowing your customer. Voice of the Customer data is where you’ll discover the key components that drive your customers’ loyalty – and what might be driving them away. Equipped with that knowledge, you can make specific changes within your organization to influence those key drivers in the desired direction. You’ll also want to use periodic benchmarking to evaluate how you are performing against those measurements compared to your competitors.
For more information about Voice of the Customer and Competitive Benchmarking solutions from CSP, contact us online or call 800.841.7954 ext. 101.