Vendors and service providers complain
that customers aren’t loyal anymore.
I’ve never been one to buy something simply because a certain company produced it so the frenzy over the iPad got me thinking about customer loyalty.
In the retail sector, does loyalty mean you stamp a logo on a product and I’m supposed to buy it?
Or in the service sector, does loyalty mean you neglect me and I’ll keep coming back for more abuse?
For example, if you make me wait 10 minutes for a cup of coffee that has too much lat in its latte’ am I’m supposed to call my friends and rave about your beverages?
You roll your eyes when I ask for no pickles on my burger and I’m supposed to enjoy feeling belittled?
Or in the supply sector, you ship inferior product and I’m supposed to renew my order?
You lower the quantity of product in your packages and raise the price without telling me and I’m supposed laugh with glee?
Focusing on customer loyalty puts the cart before the horse.
Vendors and service providers aren’t supposed to focus on customers being loyal to them. They are supposed to focus on being loyal to customers.
What do you think? Is the focus of loyalty something given or something received? Is the frenzy over the iPad customer loyalty or something else?
Winning the loyalty of customers has remained a toughest task for all marketers. Yet, is dependent on how much importance that we give it to our delivery process steps assuming that we have quality offerings to satisfy them on their basic needs. We usually take our customers for granted and really don’t bother to check back how do they feel about us on our products/services and after sales service support.
The frequent revision in prices without any value addition and improper/no communication can erode the repeat purchase trend or shift in loyalty.
It’s very easy for vendors and service providers to complain that customers aren’t loyal anymore without having a proper introspection at their own level as to where things are going wrong at their end. In 8 out of 10 cases, the real problem lie at their end and they are just not ready to accept it.
Today’s customers have a good choice to select and always look for the best at comparable price. We should remember that great brands are built on the strong loyalty base and recommendation of satisfied customers on the product use, actual buying experience and the after sales support. Failing in one count will certainly affect the future business.
Dr. Mrunal K. Asher
ITM Business School, Kharghar,
Navi Mumbai. INDIA
I appreciate you adding to the breadth of the conversation by bringing up pricing, product use, buying experience, and after sales support.
Best to you,
Definitely Customer Loyalty and Brand Trust which was built by Apple by “giving”
Thanks for your first comment on LF. Hope to see you again. I find “giving” is easy to say…HARD to do. But I think you are right on.
Dan, I think you are bang on with the comment “…supposed to focus on being loyal to custoomers.” I look at advertising for only two things – a new product that might be of interest or a good price on a product I want. It has no impact on my view of provider quality.
As an example, years ago I had an Oldsmobile with a V6 – the rear facing exhaust manifold split and I replaced it. I later found out that was one of GM’s secret recalls. Their absence of loyalty to me is the reason I have never since (mid 80’s) purchased a GM product, nor will I ever. They cheated me out of about $280.00 if memory serves, in response to their ‘jerk the customer around’ philosophy I have since purchased 7 vehicles, none of which were manufactured by GM. Nor will I ever buy from them. I demand better treatment from anyone I deal with.
Thank you for your first comment on LF. Hope you return soon. Great story illustrating the sense of violation (disloyalty) we feel when companies abuse us.
LF readers can find you blog at http://novicetoexpert.blogspot.com/
The frenzy over the iPad is less about customer loyalty than membership in a tribe, specifically, the Apple tribe. Members of a tribe ascribe certain characteristics to themselves and others aspire to become members of that tribe to acquire the trappings of those traits. It’s the relationship with others outside the tribe that matter—how the outsiders view the tribe members. Loyalty doesn’t play into that relationship.
Thanks for jumping in. Interesting comment. I hadn’t thought about Seth Godin’s term “tribe.” Cool idea. I appreciate it.
Best to you,
I think this is an even larger challenge in the non profit sector. People have to call the contact center responsible for our state’s enrollees in the children’s health insurance program. There is not a “competitor” option. When a representative doesn’t have to worry about the caller going elsewhere, from what inner resource/motivation do they find their determination to give that customer an amazing experience? I don’t have the answer, just the observation that the reps who do provide that service are able to put themselves in those people’s shoes.
On a different note, my 13 year old ordered a sandwich at a national chain recently (one that claims you can lose weight by eating its sandwiches 365 days a year). She ordered ham, turkey and american cheese (what she always orders) but I was not standing w/her. When she got her order, she told me she thought they had left off the turkey. We checked the sandwich and they had. When I approached the sandwich “artist,” she said to her coworker, in a nasty tone, “she only asked for ham.” To me as the customer I didn’t care what the original interaction had been, or what the staff person’s understanding had been — I just wanted that employee to work with me to resolve a relatively minor problem.
It just could have been so much more pleasant (and thus encourage me to talk this particular chain up more) if the employee had had even a smidgeon of “delight” in making the situation right!
Your comment makes me think about how defensiveness gets in the way of focusing on the real issue. The real issue isn’t the past it’s the present. Perhaps service personnel should be trained to have self-confidence so they can hear a complaint without taking it personally.
Thanks for stopping in. For LF readers, Paula is a mommy blogger – http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com/
Recently a friend of ours, who is a manager of a thriving restaurant, The Good Egg, here in Scottsdale, was promoted from store manager to regional manager. My wife and I go to The Good Egg for breakfast every Saturday and Sunday morning. Yes, it is that GOOD.
We have watched our friend mature over the past nine years and it has been a joy to observe her interact with her employees and her customers. BTW, this restaurant has one of the highest repeat loyal customer levels in the greater Phoenix Valley.
Why do her customers keep coming back? It is pretty simple, she and her team of wait staff, cooks and set-up staff make you feel like you are their guest and they want your hour or so experience with them to be memorable.
One interesting aspect of the restaurant comes when you pay your bill. Instead of paying the waiter, you pay at the front desk, which isn’t too unusual, but what is unusual is you give the front desk cashier the tip, also. Your tip is placed in drawer that contains rows of boxes with each waiter’s name on a personal box.
Now think about it, if the wait staff has no idea as to the amount of the tip you are leaving at the front desk, what do you think the incentive is of the waiter to do a fantastic job? Based on my nine years of anecdotal evidence, their incentive is through the roof. Granted, none of us pay our tip ahead of time, but this slight shift in where you pay your tip, at this restaurant, has led to a highly profitable enterprise. BTW, the employee turn-over rate is practically zero.
For our friends promotion, we purchased a recent book titled “Counter Culture – The American Coffee Shop Waitress” by Candacy A. Taylor. For a view on why customers are loyal to their waitress, it is a great read. There are a lot of great stories that transcend the restaurant industry.
As my Mother always told me, “You only get one time to make a first impression.” I think this quote flows through many of the above comments.
Great story. I love going to a place where we learn the names of the staff and they treat you more like family than a customer.
Interesting idea on the tip. Like you say, a very simple idea that seems to be working. I’m going to mention it to some of the places my wife and I frequent.
On a personal note: Thank you for the material you graciously sent on mission and vision for my upcoming trip to Oregon. I appreciate it.
Best to you,
Enjoyed the post and agreed totally Dan,
The time organizations invest complaining that the consumer behavior is changed and customers are no loyal anymore – is just because of availability of multiple options. Any organization’s goal should be to become that BEST option for the customer.
In my opinion, for any organization, ability to consistently add value to the customer’s situation is the right thing to focus than anything else.
Thank you for leaving your first comment and giving an affirmation. I appreciate it. You comment is a challenge to be sure we focus more on what we are giving than on what wer are getting.
I see you have a blog at http://utpal.net/blog/. I wish you success in your efforts.
I agree that loyalty is earned. There is a third party in the mix that often gets overlooked: the employees.
Loyalty flows from a relationship. The employees build the relationships. Or tear them down.
Organizations that want loyal customers must begin by being loyal to their employees.
Great point. You bring us back to you get what you give. An internal culture of loyalty is the foundation for loyalty with clients, suppliers, and other organizations. South West Airlines nails it on this one.
Best to you,
This is interesting, and also a topic i am super passionate about. Just for starters, I think the Ipad is an example of Brand loyalty not customer loyalty. I have friends who have been so impressed with Apple Products in the past that they simply assume this trend will continue until proven otherwise…
I would have to say loyalty is received, as i truly believe it is earned not “given”. I have grown up to be the type of person who will buy one place over the other based on past experiences. The brands i am most loyal to and the brands i shout from the roof top about…all earned my loyalty. And that won’t change unless they give me a reason to.
Thanks for starting this conversation, i love it.
I appreciate you leaving your first comment on LF. Thank you.
I’m with you on Apple. Past product satisfaction has created a tribe of individuals loyal to Apple. I love to yank an Apple-head around by complaining about Apple products. You’d think I just insulted their mother!