Customer Expectations and Loyalty
Posted by Becky Carroll on January 25, 2008
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)