Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Customer Expectations and Loyalty

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 25, 2008

red-carpet-2.jpg I have long been telling clients that they need to look outside of their industry for competitors.  I shared this in a blog post last year:

Do you know who is rocking your customer’s world?  Is your competitor more focused on customers than you are?  Perhaps there isn’t anyone in your industry yet who has a Customers Rock! attitude and strategy.  However, your consumers may be experiencing Nordstrom or Southwest and their great customer service.  Your business clients may be serviced by Pitney Bowes, who have been recognized by Gartner for their excellence in CRM. 

Doug Meacham over at NextUp points out something similar from trendwatching.com’s latest briefing.  In their article on the Expectation Economy, they discuss how the increasing speed of worldwide communication among consumers, along with blogs and other online reviews, is helping to raise the bar on customer expectations in every product or service consumed.  Doug states the following:

“While consumer’s expectations are up and rising, most brands choose to not keep up with the “best of the best”. The result: Informed Consumers are Indifferent or Irritated. The briefing suggests that these states will likely manifest themselves in Fake Loyalty and Postponed Purchases.”

He describes Fake Loyalty as something which is gone as soon as something better (or sometimes cheaper or more convenient) comes along.  Drew McLellan at Drew’s Marketing Minute discussed something similar in his recent post about his dry cleaner.  Drew describes his relationship this way:

“By all impressions — I should be an easy win for another dry cleaners. 

  • I am very dissatisfied with my current provider
  • What they sell is a commodity
  • There is a low cost of entry — doesn’t cost me a lot to switch

Yet, I (so far) am staying put.

I have also called customers who exhibit this Fake Loyalty by another name: “hostages”.  Hostage customers are those who subscribe to cable because it is the only way to get certain channels they want to watch.  Or they are those customers who sign up for a company’s service plan for their machines because no one else (currently) offers service for them.  Or, as in Drew’s case, they stay with a service because it is convenient – until something more convenient comes along (Drew, what if someone offered a service to pick up and drop off your cleaning at your house, for the same price?).

All of this goes back to understanding customer expectations.  We need to begin benchmarking what is going on in our own industry, but also the other industries where our customers do their purchasing of goods and services.  I may be a business customer by day, but by night I experience Amazon or Lands’ End and their fabulous customer service.  As I stated in my previously-quoted blog post,

Customer expectations are set not just by our organizations but also by all the other organizations our customers touch, whether in their personal or business lives.  Do you want to rock your customer’s world?  First, understand their world and who is rocking it.  Then, meet their needs.  Along the way, exceed their expectations.  You will then have the building blocks for a long-term customer relationship.

Which companies are rocking your customer’s world?  If you have been a reader of my blog for some time, you will think of candidates such as Nordstrom, who focuses on people, Southwest Airlines, who is good at engaging customers via their blog, and even The Busy Bunny, who is good at thanking customers.  They are all Customers Rock! companies in one fashion or another. 

Do your customers do business with these companies, or others like them?  If so, now you know more about your customer’s expectations.  If not, you can still learn from these examples as you create your customer strategy to keep and grow business.

(Photo credit: eraxion)

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7 Responses to “Customer Expectations and Loyalty”

  1. Becky,

    Seems like we’re all thinking along the same lines this week! I am a hostage of my dry cleaners but really more of a hostage of my time starved life.

    If I was a man of leisure, I would change dry cleaners tomorrow!

    Drew

  2. phildarb said

    As another uncharacteristically sunny and dry, snow-free day dawned on the anguished ski resort operators of the Czech Republic, and me, this morning, I reflected that, because I seem to have always been in a country where my mountain bike wasn’t this year, the profile of my brand repertoire has changed. (You get how my mind works? If you can’t ski, riding is the only other logical thing to do on a day like today!))

    Last year I was spending a fortune in bike stores and getting up close and personal with the brands that reflected my Lycra-lout personna.

    The thing is, no single brand can satisfy every facet of our character so we wear the badges of belonging to a range of brand communities. Unfortunatly, because there were only 24 hours in a day last time I counted and I need about fifty to live all my interests, so, were it not for the intervention of the law of (un)natural selection this year I would probably have continued to wear the Bike badge prominently. The fact that I haven’t, gave a brand from another sector the chance to capture my attention and money (I’m still trying to think what it was, but computer hardware seems to be favourite). The intervention could equally be financial. That’s why every organisation should recognise that brands outside of their sector are competing for a share of their customers attention or wallet all the time. And that’s why brand communities are important – they can help keep your customers engaged and away from distractions.

  3. Drew, interesting observation – hostage of your time-starved life. How could your dry cleaner (or another one) change or offer you something to help you with your need for more time? Home delivery service? Pre-labeled bags for your cleaning? This is a great example of uncovering customer needs, then meeting them. Those organizations that can do so will win the customer! Not sure, though, that your current cleaner would do this based on your description of them…

    Thanks for the comment!!

    Phildarb, thank you very much for your observations on brand communities. Yes, we seem to be made up of the brands we buy/visit/use, so when one area of our lives change, there becomes time and money available to put towards another area. If the area being substituted can’t meet the expectations you have from a previous set of experiences, they will probably fail.

    Great thought-provoker!

  4. That’s a great way to gauge just how good you are at rocking your customer’s world. Honestly, I’ve never really thought of looking outside the industry I belong to. But it’s a wonderful suggestion and perhaps we can all be driven to excel even more.

  5. Jen, glad you liked the suggestion! Looking outside your industry will become more and more critical as customers expect more based on their fab experiences other places.

    Thanks for coming by, Jen!

  6. Hmmm… i will take exception to what Drew is saying, and i will point out one of my observations. even if the best dry cleaner in town, right next door to me, would offer me pick-up delivery, automated payment plans, and better quality — it is more than likely that i would not change. why? expectations (as you well point out).

    it is likely i had bad experiences in the past with dry cleaners (if you did not, let me know what state you are in and i’d be glad to share one from your own home state — if not town). my expectations going for something new: there will be problems as well. i have my routine (key word here – routine means no changes, we are creatures of habit, takes a lot to change what we do — yes, even bad service keeps us coming back to the same restaurant or dry cleaner) and i have a reasonable and acceptable outcome – thus i won’t jeopardize it by trying something new or different. even if were to try it just once, it would take a monumental experience to get me to change, and my expectations going in would be that it is not going to be that good.

    negative view? perhaps… but now flip the coin. how would you target, attract, and retain that customer? if you can answer that – and create the right experience based on surpassing expectations – then you have a customer for life…or at least for a very long time.

  7. [...] customer’s world? customersrock.wordpress.com This entry was posted in all. Bookmark the permalink. ← Sport 7 Health To Each Is Own [...]

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