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The 3 Laws of Customer Loyalty

A customer experience revolution is afoot in the business world. Companies have figured out how important loyalty is to their long-term success and are beginning to rebalance their marketing investments away from the more traditional marketing channels and focusing them toward those that actually impact customer loyalty and earn brand advocacy.

So how can your brand create experiences that build real customer loyalty? Believe it or not, loyalty doesn’t come from “wowing” your customers at every turn. It is much more fundamental than that. If we look deep into the science of decision-making and brand affinity or loyalty, there is a clear pattern that emerges.

Those products and services that win our customer’s hearts and loyalty are those that apply the three laws described below in every aspect of their business. From how you provide information in the pre-sale phases of your customer’s evaluation, to how you service your customer after they purchase, every experience they have with you is an opportunity to either build loyalty or destroy it in your customer’s mind.

The three laws are:

  1. Be Consistent.
    Trust is pretty simple in concept, but extremely difficult to accomplish because we don’t think about what creates and earns trust. Trust isn’t earned from a single marketing campaign or because your customer bought from you. Trust is earned over time from consistently delivering on your word. Do what you say you will. Don’t over-sell your product. Be honest and do your best to produce the best experiences in your market. This will help you build a hundred year relationship with your customer.

    Consistency is the key term in the trust formula. Your customers come to you expecting to get a product or service that is priced fairly and does what you promised it would do. Ensuring that each experience supports those expectations in a way that is brand aligned and matches every expectation that you set in the pre-sales process is key. Unless your business is in a position where it consistently delivers what your customers expect, this is where you should focus your energy and investments.
  2. Reduce Your Customer’s Effort.
    Simplicity is one of those things where we know it when we see it. When an experience is simple, it is elegant and when it is elegant, we find that we enjoy it. With every interaction in your customer’s journey, finding ways to reduce the amount of effort that they have to expend is one of the key factors to building customer loyalty.

    Take a hard look at every single step in your customer’s journey and look for ways to remove or reduce effort from your clients. In building technology experiences, I like to say that we should be fascist about minimizing click and swipe from every single user interface. What additional steps do your customers have to take to accomplish a goal in the context of your business? Remove every unnecessary step for them.

    Another way to reduce effort for your customers is to use all of the data that you have about them wherever you can. Never make your customers give you a piece of information that you already have about them. Share data across your interaction points and invest in technology to ensure that the right information is available at each interaction point.

    The most inspiring experiences come when you are able to reduce your customer’s effort by leveraging data to produce useful insights for your customer. Better yet, find a way to be predictive at every turn. The data that is available today is more accessible and more useful than ever before.

    • How can you provide better and more relevant information in the pre-sales evaluation process?
    • How can you produce better technology experiences for your best customers when they are using your product or service?
    • Most importantly, how can you better predict when they will have a service disruption and how can you use data to get in front of it?
  3. Perfect Service Disruptions.
    What separates the mediocre brands from the best brands are those that handle service disruptions swiftly and effectively. Every company experiences some sort of service disruptions with their products or services, but the most powerful way to earn brand loyalty is by doing a great job resolving those inevitable issues. It is also uncommon and thus leads to loyalty because of the way your customers feel when their issue has been resolved.

    In fact, you have an even better opportunity to build loyalty when you resolve issues for your customers than when there are no issues at all with your product or service. This is how brands like Starbucks, Apple and Harley Davidson build customer loyalty. If you don’t believe me, try telling your barista that you are not happy with your drink the next time you visit a Starbucks and watch how practiced and poised he or she acknowledges your concern and works to make you another drink that is exactly right. Or try walking into an Apple store or a Harley Davidson shop with a problem and see how they make you feel about it.

    Invest heavily in understanding how your customers get disrupted in their interactions with you from sales through support and figure out how to get in front of each service disruption.

As a technology company, we are seeing many organizations shift their investments to include their digital assets like their Web and mobile sites and applications as well. Companies are making much more substantial up-front investment in the user experience and the digital components of their customer’s journey than ever before. At the end of the day, the technologies that you employ to serve your customers are your most impactful brand assets.

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