Article : What Keeps Customers Loyal to a Brand?
Loyalty to a brand is the common goal of customers and management alike. Simply defined, loyalty is the strong tendency to do business with a brand with which you already do business. By that definition loyalty cannot be measured early on in the business relationship.
Why do customers want to be loyal to a brand? One reason is that it simplifies our lives – choosing the familiar brand removes the need to make decisions about all the competing brands. Whatever basis on which the preferred brand wins its initial approval is reinforced every time there is an additional transaction.
Let's Have a Cok?????e???????????? ??
B-to-B enterprises regularly consider switching costs as a factor in deciding whether to take on a new supplier to replace a current one. Switching costs are less obvious with individual customer preferences but are nonetheless real. Let’s have a Coke and consider some of the reasons things go better with that brand.
A brand is more than the sum of its parts. There is much more to a Coke than its taste – even if its taste was the initial deciding factor. You know that the quality of the Coke experience will be the same every time and in every place you decide to have one. You know a Coke will be available almost everywhere you might want one. You don’t worry about safety or hygiene or any quality control issues when you pop the top.
Consistency With What Is Important
It is such consistency across the range of values and priorities that you bring to the Coke experience that keeps you loyal to the brand. And, as ubiquitous as the product is, the advertising is even more so. That enjoyable Coke experience is reinforced, the desire for another such experience is reignited, the confidence that the next experience will be up to the last, the happy social occasions associated with the brand – all these are consistently and constantly reinforced and the result is customer loyalty.
Technology: The Great Simplifier and the Great Complicator
Here is a dichotomy we all live with – technology has made it easier to perform many everyday tasks but somehow these tasks seem more complicated than ever before. It is an axiom of science that the simpler hypothesis is more likely to be the correct solution than one that is complicated. But, as Einstein pointed out when complimented on the simplicity of E=MC2 , it takes working through a considerable complexity to get to that kind of simplicity.
Creating and developing loyal customers requires that we reduce the complexity of doing business for our customers – even when, as with the universal product distribution of Coca-Cola, that complexity is a background service the customer never thinks of consciously. Housework, they say, is something no one notices until it isn’t done.
Doing the Housework
Customer service is the housework of brand loyalty. Zappos is a company that has implemented this truth into reality. Zappos knows that not all the advertising budget in the world can overcome a failed customer service experience. Not the best rewards program can make up for incompetence, or even an indifferent tone of voice, in a customer service representative. The aura of the brand extends well beyond the core product or service and the quality that counts most is customer service. When these fundamentals are soundly in place customer loyalty is not an add-on but an intrinsic quality of the brand itself.
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About Jim Boring:
Jim Boring has researched and written numerous trade articles regarding customer service. loyalty, change management, contact center management.
About Content Management Services LLC:
Content Management Services researches, develops and distributes proprietary print and online content for corporate clients.
Published: Tuesday, April 12, 2011