Customer Loyalty: Experience-Based not Product Based

By Ted Mininni 

It’s the endless mantra heard among
marketers. Consumers are less brand loyal than ever. News flash: Maybe
the fault doesn’t lie with a “fickle” consumer, but with companies
themselves.

Businesses are pushing harder than ever to improve
or innovate products and services. They’re lowering prices to increase
value perceptions; more sensitive than ever to competitors’ pricing
strategies. They’re working on customer service issues. There’s nothing
like a slowing economy to force companies to address shoring up
response times to customers’ concerns and questions. 

Yet, all
of these measures, taken individually, don’t ensure loyalty. So what’s
a consumer product or service company to do? Every company understands
the importance of customer satisfaction. It drove repeat sales and
loyalty in the past. But now, a challenging business environment and
economy seem to be game changers. So what should the focus be on?

The
impetus ought to be on addressing the customer experience issue,
aligning every customer touch point and by doing so, cementing much
greater loyalty to their brands. Isn’t it time for businesses to
develop a comprehensive, top to bottom customer experience strategy? 

If
they’re concerned about having to spend on a new initiative just when
capital expenditures are being curtailed, companies ought to consider
that this might be the best time to secure the customers they already
have. It’s cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to acquire
new ones; but new customers aren’t attracted if there’s negative buzz
from existing customers, either.

Working on one or two
customer touch points is an inadequate approach. While improving any
aspect of the customer experience is important, it’s far more crucial
to address every aspect of customer interaction. And it’s impossible to
reorient any of this correctly without conducting research first. 

Key research questions must be answered:

    * Who is the customer?
    * What kinds of products or services is the customer looking for from the company?
    * How can the company match the customer’s goals?
    * What does the customer expect from the company and brand?
    * What does the customer value?

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