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customer loyalty

SH Palash, Flickr (CC license)

As businesses we understand and recognise the role that loyal customers play in our commercial success, which is why (according to a recent study by Accenture) over 90% of companies actively invest in loyalty programmes. However, 2 in 3 customers say these programmes do not engender loyalty, leaving us with a dynamic modern-day puzzle to solve.

In recent times, the vast array of products and services available to consumers, tough economic conditions, and dwindling trust in big businesses have all contributed to the challenge of building customer loyalty. So, as customer loyalty becomes a more elusive target for businesses, what can be done from a customer service perspective to build relationships in an “age of disloyalty”?

Say what you mean, and do what you say

Consistency, predictability, reliability, transparency… we don’t always consider these traits when thinking about customer loyalty, but they are so integral in building trust in just about any type of relationship (friendship, romance, family, work etc.). If we say one thing and do another, or if our responses to similar situations are inconsistent, it creates doubt and dilutes trust…pushing the goal of achieving customer loyalty even further from reach.

Although it would be difficult to cover all “trust-building attributes” here, there are a number of ways to maintain consistency in customer service to help preserve the customer relationship. Implementing the correct measurement criteria, for instance, along with standardising workflows and processes would all contribute to regularly delivering the kind of service that your customers are promised, and subsequently, expect.

If, for example, a customer calls your contact centre and the query is resolved immediately during the call, the customer would be frustrated if it took a week to resolve a similar email-based request made to the same contact centre. Ultimately the specific contact channel used is irrelevant to the customer, but your approach to managing and measuring service levels on all your contact channels should be cohesive and consistent. This will ensure that your customers always receive the same great service safe in the knowledge that they can trust your business time and again.

“Great” expectations

To avoid disappointing customers, we have often been told to “under promise and over deliver”. While this is traditionally viewed as a safe approach, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the current needs and attitudes of the archetypal modern consumer. Customers are spoilt with choice, hard to impress, more demanding than ever, and expect constant feedback – all of which doesn’t bode well with the aforementioned mantra.

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