Building recognisable customer loyalty

Brand loyalty: do you have customers or passengers?

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It’s amazing who we forget and how quickly. I don’t remember any of the people on the bus last week. Who did I ride home with last Thurday? My mind goes blank. It’s nothing personal – it’s simply that I have no reason to remember them. Or they me. Most brands have the same levels of recognition for customers.

People get what they’re looking for, and then they go. They see. They forget. That’s their level of consumer brand loyalty. Momentary.

Are you building customer loyalty or are you building customer volumes? They’re different.

If you ask the people responsible for running brands what customers they want, they’ll often say “as many as possible” or “people who spend a lot” or this age group or that ethnic group – but that’s not what they really want at all. Because, when probed, they have no idea who they want as customers. They’ll take anyone whose buying. They just want the money. They’ll talk about the significance of brand loyalty, but they won’t be able to put faces to it. Not really.

And yet many of them spend their working days trying to get those very same people to value them as a brand above the myriad other offerings. To value them as more than just a price.

As Robert Kozinets has so rightly pointed out, one of the great fallacies about relationships is that brands tend to connect value and customer loyalty – but customers can actually be loyal to a brand and buy very little, or they can buy a lot and not be brand loyal at all. So are your customers with you out of brand loyalty or brand convenience?

What makes customers loyal to a brand?

How should we judge a successful customer, and more particularly, a successful customer relationship? What motivates people to put faces to actions? I think there are 9 sure signs that a relationship between a brand and a customer is healthy, personalised and mutually beneficial:

1. Consistency – there is a regular pattern to how, when and why people buy

2. Integrity – there are no hidden agendas on either side

3. Openness – facts and opinions are shared

4. Humour – people smile at the thought of being in each other’s company

5. Delight – there are pleasant surprises for everyone

6. Confidence – people believe in themselves and each other

7. Time – everyone is given the time they need to do the best work and to make the best decisions

8. Endorsement – names and experiences are shared

9. Value – everyone feels they have got what they needed to get, and more, out of each exchange

If you can remember each of your last three customer exchanges, try marking them against these customer loyalty criteria. If you’re honest, you’ll probably find there’s a spooky correlation between the marks you give and what you actually feel about the relationship with the people involved.

If you can’t remember the last three exchanges in detail, despite what the numbers might be telling you, you don’t have successful customers and you certainly aren’t doing what’s required to inspire consumer brand loyalty. You’re just negotiating traffic.

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