Striving for Customer Loyalty
In today's economic climate consumers are scrutinizing their purchases and attempting to cut their spending. Severe pessimism of the economic climate and spending instability has triggered a shift toward thrifty consumer spending and strengthened expectations of customer satisfaction of products, goods and services.
Corporate America and Fortune 500 companies need to get into "fifth gear" to gain a deeper understanding of how their products and services are received by customers worldwide and what they must do to maximize product and service acceptance on an ongoing basis.
It is the ultimate goal of any business organization, irrespective of product, to increase their profits. This is best created with a steady stream of loyal customers who have a propensity to engage in on-going repeat business and will do so from their perceived high value of the products, goods and services being offered.
It is important for companies across the Globe to understand what lies behind the loyal behavior of the customer and also what is more or less likely for them to become and remain loyal.
There is a strong and indigenous relationship between customer satisfaction and quality. This needs to be translated to the consumer with respect to price, product / service availability and perceived added value of the product / service to the customer. Hence, consumers who are purchasing a commodity consider two basic criteria...price and availability. Customer loyalty in this situation occurs usually when prices are low and / or better options to the consumer are not available.
Fundamentals of Customer Loyalty
Loyalty is created by adding perceived value to a basic commodity. The product/service features that create loyalty are usually triggered by high performance standards, as, for example, when a customer receives unexpected quality. The 'unanticipated' quality is what drives a consumer in today's marketplace and creates loyalty. The service sector of any business, regardless of product or service offered, is the direct liaison between corporation and customer, making it a very personal and a key motivator to the consumer. This is not just a national issue; it is a Global issue if companies wish to sustain their business goals. How fast a company responds to problems, such as the BP oil spill or Toyota's issues with the malfunctioning gas pedal gives the consumer insight into the validity of the company and its marketing claims to the consumer.
A current customer will become an advocate or a repeat customer if the company is performing well on adding perceived value to the basic commodity / service for the consumer. Companies need to identify the consumers questions, action them and deploy front-line personnel and management to filter consistent personal service and satisfaction to the consumer. Consistency, product and service quality are the value fundamentals for the consumer.
Poor service is not tolerated and most definitely will result in a loss of business and lure customers away to the 'competition' if they are offering something better.
The Loyal Generation
It is ultimately important for organizations to be 'in tune' with their customer with respect to collecting customer satisfaction data on an ongoing basis. How well are we doing? Are we achieving or exceeding our customer's expectations? What do we need to do to improve our product / service / Brand / Corporation? Customer loyalty is very much predicated on the increasing performance provided to the customers and key drivers of Relationships, Product / Service, Stature, Price Index and Brand Awareness. The actionable nature at which the above are deployed to the Customer with consistency has a direct correlation to servicing the loyal customer and providing retention. Maintaining the loyal generation customer base as it equates to profitability and sustainable goals for the Corporation must be on-going. Branding, marketing and customer awareness can be effectively integrated, measured and managed by front-line employees and management which can focus and encourage the organization to improve their respective performance in specific areas of need.
Pay for Performance Incentives
Performance objectives can be developed for both front-line employees and management which can set performance goals and objectives for measurement indecies on a Pay for Performance Incentive Program i.e. Outstanding, Superior, Above Average. This will in turn increase the organization's focus and commitment to their customers and enhance overall customer satisfaction and loyalty and determine which areas need improvement and provide an internal loyalty measurement and overall corporate management program.
"CL" stands for Profitability
Customer Loyalty is required for profitability in today's corporate environment. Service needs to be provided as a daily consistent regimen to attract and retain customer loyalty. The consumer has a vast choice from which company to purchase, so the front line staff has to be empowered with tools, input from the customer and information and solutions when necessary. Leadership needs to be customer focused and to concentrate on the pre-requisites for excellence. They must always be focused on Customer Relations and satisfaction, product or service excellence, corporate stature, brand awareness and price.
As Global consumer confidence rebounds, consumer spending hits pre-recession levels and the corporate world continues to fight and recover from the recession...consumer spending and economic recovery will be most definitely enhanced by corporations providing consumers with reserved prioritization and 'top of mind' service.
Corporations need to have a 'can do' 'we care about you' attitude, consistent and conscientious communication to the aware consumer who is looking for added-value, loyalty and an exceptional experience.