Customer loyalty is believing that an organisation’s product is the best option. It’s more than a casual friendship. Loyalty means sticking around when it isn’t easy, rejecting competition and believing that the customer-company relationship transcends products and services.
Most people aren’t 100% loyal to one brand. One may shop from three grocery stores, loyal to them all, and none others, but not loyal to one completely. This has been termed polygamous loyalty. Due to split loyalties, it is in the best interest of companies to invest in customer loyalty and be the one that holds the most wallet share. Loyal customers can keep sales coming, even in economic downturns, they can purchase supplementary products/services, bring in new customers and reduce costs for consumer marketing.
Loyalty can also come in two different types, behavioural and attitudinal. Behaviour loyalty refers to those who buy the company’s products and tell their friends about them. Whereas attitudinal loyalty refers to the positive emotions that people have towards a company or its products.
Customer loyalty can be confused with similar terms such as brand advocacy, loyalty programmes, and customer satisfaction. Brand advocates believe in what the company stands for, regardless of products/services. Not all brand advocates are loyal customers. The inverse is also true. Not all loyal customers are brand advocates. Loyalty programmes don’t often affect loyalty. Usually they are executed improperly and result in the equivalent of discounted rates rather than customer that stay. Customer satisfaction is also a small indicator of loyalty. While it plays a part in it, loyalty is more than just a good experience.
In order to build good customer loyalty, employee loyalty needs to come first. Making sure employees are engaged at work is vital. As the saying goes, “The fish stinks from the head down.” Employees are the ones that pass loyalty down to the customers. It’s important that employees are invested in the values of the company and are trained in order to produce the most loyal customers. Evaluating the connection employees have with the company can be done through using a Voice of the Employee (VoE) programme.
Research shows that 73% of a customer’s love for a brand comes from great service and more than 70% of buying experience comes from how the customer feels they are being treated. It’s no secret that obtaining the loyalty of customers is a strategic imperative. While there are a myriad of tips and tricks to acquiring and holding on to customers, what it essentially boils down to is trust. Customer loyalty can be analogueous to a marriage. Like any good marriage, it requires lots of trust, work, and communication. Below are a few guidelines to employ when interacting with customers.
- Analyse what is and isn’t working. Improve what isn’t
- Exceed customers’ expectations
- Establish a personal relationship with every customer
- Follow the rules: Golden Rule (do unto others as you would want to be done unto.) and the Platinum rule (interact with others as they want to be interacted with.)
- Share your values
- Be Transparent
- Admit when you make a mistake. Take responsibility and resolve issues.
- Ask for their feedback.
- Take action on feedback
- Earn a reputation for being consistent and reliable
- Be flexible.
- Surprise them
There is no shortcut to earning customers that trust a company. Loyalty is built on trust. A Company has to be worthy of that trust—by building positive, genuine relationships and experiences with customers.
There are many ways to measure customer loyalty. From using the Net Promotor Score (NPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES) to analysing customer retention and negative churn. Here are few other ways to that loyalty can be discerned:
- Repurchase Ratio-How many repeat buyers vs. one time buyers?
- Upselling Ratio-How many people who’ve bought multiple products vs those who’ve only bought one.
- Customer Loyalty Index
- Activity Time-How much time does your customer spend with your product?
- Visit Frequency-How often does your customer return to your product?
Loyalty is perhaps the greatest predictor of a company’s success. In order to build that, the employees must be loyal first. In turn, they’ll pass that on to the customers. If customers are loyal, it means they trust the company and will continue to purchase products and services. By genuinely caring about the customer, seeking feedback, and continuously measuring indicators of loyalty, companies can acquire and keep customers coming back for a lifetime.