Would you switch to a competitor after just one bad experience with a brand you previously loved? Research shows that over three-quarters of consumers admit they would. However, consumers also revealed their brand loyalty doesn’t falter, with 52% stating that once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life. So – which one is it? How ‘bad’ does the experience have to be for the consumer to make the switch, and what does loyalty really mean to today’s modern consumer?
Taking loyalty for granted
Whilst loyalty is something many brands strive to achieve with their customers, there are some that take it for granted. Brands that hold a monopoly over a market – such as utility companies – rely on their unique product offering or the difficulty to ‘leave’ the brand, rather than looking at how they can improve the experience they offer or how they can increase the loyalty of their customers. Unfortunately, they rely on the fact that their customers will likely continue to return, regardless of the experience they receive, or how their queries are dealt with.
Yet, even for these companies, delivering a customer experience (CX) that exceeds the customer’s expectations and needs, is essential. A brand’s reputation – positive or negative – can quickly spread like wildfire; and, after all, it is six times more expensive to acquire new business rather than to keep it.
But, ask any customer. CX starts long before they pick up the phone or start a chat session. For a manufacturing company, the experience starts when the customer researches and then purchases the product. Their experience continues when they set the product up and try to understand the instructions; it continues when they register it and use it.
Customers need help from the start to set up their new product and get it working, or indeed they may get many months or years use from the product before they have an issue and they need support. Only then, when they need help, will they contact the company. Their experience at this stage can make or break the relationship because the customer won’t necessarily remember the fact that something has gone wrong, but they will remember how the problem is dealt with.
The CX balancing act
That’s not to say, however, that delivering a CX that enables an organisation to stay ahead of the competition and encourage the customer to return isn’t a huge challenge – it is! Gone are the days of consumers simply reaching out to an organisation over the phone – they are now taking advantage of the numerous touchpoints available to them, from webchat to social media. This means brands need to take care to be available to their consumers however they are reached, and to provide the same experience, irrespective of the channel used.
But how can this be achieved? All organisations want to avoid anything that constitutes a ‘bad’ CX – including a frustrating experience, long wait times, unskilled or unknowledgeable staff, unanswered questions or even faulty products. And, if they receive an experience like this, can we really blame them for wanting to switch to a competitor, if there is a chance this will be avoided in the future?
It doesn’t need to be like this. An organisation’s contact centre should be at the centre of the CX it provides, with a dedicated, skilled and trained team ready to speak to customers, answer queries and resolve any issues the customer may have experienced, across any channel the customer decides to use.
To make this effective, the customer service team should fully represent the persona of the brand; from understanding the most effective solution, to using the right tone of voice and language expected of the brand, and knowing how an issue can be solved quickly and seamlessly.
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Contact centres and retail stores if appropriate, need to become the insight and analytics hub, collating and analysing insight gained, to drive improvements. Because this insight comes directly from customers, capitalising on it is the optimal way to improve the customer experience, leading to higher satisfaction, more loyal customers, reduced contacts, reduced costs and product insight.
Learn from past mistakes
If one bad experience is all it takes, then an organisation can’t blame a customer for jumping ship and looking for another brand to provide a better experience. Organisations need to learn from others, and from their own past mistakes; ensuring all channels are ready to provide a seamless, positive CX for every customer. Really, this way, a customer’s loyalty should never come into question at all.