Have you ever felt loved as a customer? I did! And I think that's important. When I'm going out for dinner, for example, I don't just want to be served well. I want to have the feeling the waiters are happy that I'm there.
In September 2013 American Express tested 1,620 customers, 63 % felt their heart increase when they thought about receiving great customer service. Another 53 % found that receiving great customer service triggered the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved.
Takeaway from the study? When it comes to customer service, it's not just about what your customers think. Great service is about their feelings.
Technology vs customer loyalty
Lots of brands try to please customers using new customer service technologies, concepts, innovations and trends. Those are cool but in reality, they're just clever concepts that could help brands to offer a better service. Only a small amount of brands realize that the fundaments of great service remain the same, apart from our rapid changing society. Customer service is all about the feeling of being recognized, listened to and valued or cared for. New technologies are not going to make customers happier. They're just nice gadgets.
Take the iBeacons for an example. They're very popular and the field of application is enormous. The best case I found was this marketing campaign from Nivea. They published an advertising in magazines containing a bracelet with a low budget beacon which can be connected to an app. When you teared the bracelet out of the magazine, you could put it around your child's wrist. When they're at the beach and the child walks too far away, the app notifies the parents.
Original campaign and probably very useful, but it proves that there's no clear link between technology and customer loyalty. People won't buy more Nivea because of the gadget.
Every day customers make decisions about where they're going to spend their time or money. Customer loyalty can be defined as a customer continuing to believe that your product or service is their best option. As long as they believe that, they won't switch to your competitors.
In 2013 more than 60 percent of consumers switched brands or business due to poor customer service. Almost 85 percent of those who switched said the brand could have done something to stop them form switching.
How to maintain customer loyalty?
It's a constant challenge for companies and brands to create and maintain customer loyalty. Mycustomer.com put some basics on a row.
Get the basics right Understand your customers, your business challenges and your long term goals. Imagine your marketing team leaves for a pitch, not being prepared at all and not knowing what the challenge is about. It would be kind of impossible to win that pitch, isn't it?
Tap into the hearts and minds of your customers Know the difference between emotional and functional loyalty. Where emotional loyalty is about the feelings and experiences customers get, functional loyalty is about fulfilling an immediate need. Both kinds of loyalty need a different approach.
Know the difference between true loyalty and reward schemes Don't fall into the trap of believing that reward schemes engender loyalty. It's a common misconception that discounts are key to achieving loyal customers. Discounts and bonus cards don't build loyalty, not on their own anyway. The benefit of discounts is specific to each individual purchase.
Create dialogues with your customers Engage with your customers. Companies that are customer-centric really maintain loyalty. Know what your customers want and, more importantly, what they don't want. Use your customer data wisely. Don't send emails to your customers trying to sell your products. Use data about their previous purchases in order to send them personalized offers. Read more about customer centricity in our previous blogpost.
Monitor your net promotor score Analyze your promotors versus your detractors constantly. When your NPS changes, find out why and react immediately.
Create good memories
As Maya Angelou once said "I've learned that people will forget what you said, they'll forget what you did but they'll never forget how you made them feel."
The way your customers feel when they leave your store is crucial. You may think you've said the right things, if the customer thinks you didn't he'll leave the store unsatisfied. And it's really difficult to undo that feeling.