If you’ve created customer satisfaction, congratulations! That means your product or service does a good job of solving a specific problem or satisfying a want. Your customer's experience of satisfaction comes from their rational assessment of how well your product works.
The problem is, satisfaction can disappear as soon as a competitor comes up with a better solution, or has an equal solution at a lower price. This type of disruption is happening with regularity in many markets, turning products and services into commodities. The answer to this trap is customer loyalty.
Loyalty creates a deeper connection
Based on a shared experiences, values, and beliefs, loyalty creates a much stronger bond between a company and its customers. This is an insight based on evolutionary biology, and has its roots in ancient history when we formed loyal tribes to survive in the face of nature, wild beasts and other hostile groups.
As a marketer you may create rationales that give your customers permission to buy. But—as Daniel Kahneman documents in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow—the rational brain is not the driving factor in your decision process. It’s only the quality control function for decisions made in a more primal part of your customer's brain, where feelings rule.
Loyalty, based on a shared view of the world
Deep down, don't you feel gratified with a company that shares your values? Marketers who create loyalty are delivering value that goes beyond product features and attributes. They’re creating a sense of shared responsibility for your success.
Simon Sinek does a nice job of articulating this in his TED talk. The gist of what he says is, HOW you do it leads to customer satisfaction. But WHY you do it leads to customer loyalty.
Five ways to make the leap to brand loyalty
Make your customer the hero in your brand story.
Every time you buy something, you tell yourself a story about the choice you make. Think about helping your customers create a story where they play the role of hero whenever they do business with you.
Harley Davidson does this with their #stereotypicalharley effort, gathering stories from loyal riders of all stripes. All the stories in their TV commercials come from ideas shared by their customers. Try using some of the same social strategies to find your great customer stories, and create a community of enthusiasts around your company—or create loyalty with more traditional content that makes your customers the hero of your story.
Create a moat around your business.
Design a software tool for your customers, that helps them do their job more effectively. Walk each client through how to use it, and show them how to create plan that the tool helps them execute.
You might think it takes a powerhouse like Adobe or Google to pull off this strategy, but I know a small regional distributor who made the investment to create such a piece of software for their clients, and they continually release upgrades. It creates a huge obstacle for competitors to overcome, and fierce loyalty among their clients.
Create an experiential bond.
Host inspiring events for your customers: speakers, seminars and workshops to help them be more effective in their jobs. Participate with them and become part of their team by coaching their success. Motley Fool does this by educating their subscribers to be better investors. But you can also create loyalty by hosting local events or webinars on your web site, designed to help them do better work.
Demonstrate how you share your customer’s values.
When you’ve discovered the factor that motivates your ideal clients, play it to the hilt with every product, service and piece of content you deliver for them. For instance, if your brand is all about performance, how many ways can you help your customers perform better? Loyal customers aren’t just buying products, they’re buying your commitment to their success. Nike does this with Fit Band technology. You have the opportunity to just do it with every piece of content you create for your customers and every new service you offer.
Build your business by building theirs.
Differentiate yourself from competitors by going beyond the immediate product solution to address the bigger concerns of your clients. Are your products intrinsic to a broader solution your clients need? You can show customers how to get the most value out of what you sell them by using it to better market their own product or service.
Computer manufacturers once sold the reliability of their machines based on the fact they had ‘Intel inside’. I know a dental laboratory that’s selling more crowns and implants to dentists by offering them consulting on how to run their practices more effectively.
Creating customer loyalty is a lot more about mindset than it is about any particular technique. To create belief, you need to be a believer. And to create loyalty, you need to be loyal to your customers.
Would you like some help creating customer loyalty? Let’s have a chat.