Consider the automobile manufacturer BMW, which in the 1970s used the slogan The Ultimate Driving ... [+] getty images
There are many reasons a customer might come back to a business again and again that have nothing to do with loyalty. A repeat customer can come about because of a convenient location, a lower price, a bigger selection and more. But those don’t create loyalty. It just looks as if the customer is loyal.
Actually, you could say that they are loyal—but not to the company. They are loyal to the price, convenient location, etc. The customer who comes back again and again for those types of reasons can deceive you. Not on purpose. It’s their behavior that imitates loyalty. Consider a retail store with repeat customers (not loyal customers), and ask this: If a competitor moves into the neighborhood, has a more convenient location and advertises lower prices, would the customer switch?
If you want your customers to be loyal, you must find a way to create an emotional connection. Meet Zhecho Dobrev, a principal consultant at Beyond Philosophy and the author of the newly published book, The Big Miss: How Organizations Overlook the Value of Emotions. I interviewed Dobrev for an episode of Amazing Business Radio, and he shared his insights on what drives loyalty.
According to Dobrev, “Emotional connection creates preference over the competition. Customers don’t just come back out of convenience. They see a difference between doing business with your company and other companies.” His research has found that the amount of business a company gets is dependent on its relationships with customers.
The relationship you want with customers is rooted in emotion. A good experience creates a positive memory. Dobrev is a fan of Professor Daniel Kahneman, who says that people don’t choose between experiences. They choose between the memories of their experiences.
Often, memory is based on interactions customers have had with a salesperson, customer support or a process that a company has. Ideally, it’s a good memory. And when the customer comes back a second time and third time and has similar experiences, the memories of those interactions become an owned experience.
The customer expects it. They know it’s going to happen, just like last time. That’s where the relationship starts to solidify, with a consistent and predictable experience. It goes to an even higher level when the customer feels valued and appreciated. Ultimately, the brand becomes more important than just a place to stop and do business.
Dobrev surveyed more than 19,000 customers in the U.S. and UK and determined that emotional attachment was the biggest driver of value, being responsible for about 43% of business value. Compare that to a company that promotes product features, which came in second at 20%. “Customers don’t know what they really want,” says Dobrev. “They say they want a product, but what really drives business value is emotional attachment.”
Emotions can start to develop even before the customer chooses to do business with a company or brand. Emotions can be found in a marketing strategy. Consider the automobile manufacturer BMW, which in the 1970s used the slogan The Ultimate Driving Machine—a description of the car—until it switched its focus to the emotion of owning and experiencing the car with the slogan BMW is Joy.
While BMW still includes The Ultimate Driving Machine in its descriptors, today’s slogan is Sheer Driving Pleasure. Joachim Blickhäuser, head of corporate and brand identity at the BMW Group, says, “The ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ slogan delivers positive emotions and does exactly what a claim should.”
While an emotional connection may help create customer loyalty, you can’t ignore other competitive features. While loyalty makes price less relevant, there is a breaking point. Being easy to do business is also a big factor, so eliminate the friction that will potentially cause customers to run to your competition.
So, here is your assignment. Ask your customers, “Why do you do business with us?” Their reasons will help you define the differences between features and benefits compared to feelings and emotions. Once you have your features and benefits in place, work on creating emotional connections, and your customers will come back for the right reasons—because they love doing business with you.
Critics by Sean Peek
Customer loyalty is a customer’s likelihood of doing repeat business with you. This stems from customer satisfaction and outweighs availability, pricing, and other factors that typically impact buying decisions. When a customer is loyal to a product, service, or brand, they are willing to wait for a restock or spend a little extra money for it.
“Customer loyalty means the difference between a one-time sale and a customer who comes back to you potentially for the rest of their lives,” said Tyler Read, CEO of personal training company PTPioneer. “If you put in the work necessary to build customer loyalty, those customers will … stay invested in your business. When your business is struggling, it’s the loyal customers who will help you stay afloat.”
This is especially important and evident amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the pandemic was a test of customer loyalty in that it forced consumers to honestly evaluate what service providers they trusted,” said Bill Zinke, senior vice president of marketing at BELFOR Franchise Group. “So, one of the key lessons from the pandemic has been [that], in good times, building customer loyalty can help you grow faster and more profitably, and in tough or challenging times, it can be the difference between surviving and going out of business.”
Customer loyalty is important for many reasons. These are the major ones:
- Repeat customers typically spend more than new customers. Because they already trust your business and its products or services, existing customers tend to spend more money than new customers. In fact, the amount they spend typically increases with the duration of doing business with your brand.
- Loyal customers yield higher conversion rates. Existing customers have an average conversion rate of around 60% to 70%, while new customers have a conversion rate of 5% to 20%. In other words, you get more value from loyal customers visiting your site.
- Customer loyalty boosts profits. The more customer loyalty you have, the better your profits will be. In fact, just a 5% increase of customer retention could increase business increase business profits by 25% to 95%.
- Customer retainment is cheaper than customer recruitment. While recruiting new customers is important, it can be expensive – around five times more expensive than retaining a loyal one, actually. Simply retaining loyal customers is much more cost-effective, as they bring higher profits at a lower cost.
- Loyal customers shop regularly. Because they’ve already had positive experiences with your brand, repeat customers tend to shop much more frequently than new customers. This is especially true around the holidays, when consumers are purchasing gifts and spending more than they typically would during the rest of the year.
- Customer loyalty helps you plan ahead. When you have loyal customers, you can make better anticipatory decisions and effectively plan your finances and marketing efforts….to be continued