Brand Loyalty Through Customer Intimacy
Customer satisfaction, brand trust, brand attachment, customer and brand loyalty: whether you’re a marketing guru following the latest trends or not, you’ve most likely seen at least one of these terms appear on your screen recently.
Not only is it hard to pinpoint the difference between these expressions, but it’s also a challenge learning why you should focus on a somewhat emotional and immeasurable aspect of e-commerce, when there’s still so much to gain by improving products and operational excellence. It is important though, for achieving continuity and helping you building brand loyalty. By controlling the balance between a good product or service, a credible marketing proposition, and a progressive customer service, you build for your company an end-to-end cycle that will withstand the test of time.
Brand satisfaction is described as the degree of satisfaction provided by the goods or services of a company, as measured by the number of repeat customers. A simple, quantitative given. But there’s also a qualitative rating that plays part: the customer’s motivation. An automated satisfaction survey may seem like a great predictor of whether your service met customer’s expectations and whether they will return, but really, you can’t be sure the respondent interpreted the question the way it was originally intended – or whether their mood had anything to do with the ranking.
Brand loyalty, on the other hand, goes a few layers deeper. It’s not only about consumer satisfaction with the product or service today or next week. People get older, incomes change, interests change – and so their values shift. That’s why brand loyalty is so important. It about more than current satisfaction; it’s about customers staying with you for a lifetime, regardless of phases or emotions they go through. To create this on-going brand loyalty, your need to strive for customer intimacy.
Customer intimacy might sound a little scary at first, but it’s actually not. The term was introduced by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema in their 1995 book The Discipline of Marketleader, and it’s about putting the customer first. Not just by being friendly and servicing quickly. Rather by building a solid relationship with customers and developing a strategy fully adapted to it. While most companies focus on broad market trends and decide which next step to take from that information, client intimacy focuses on the individual. What phase are they going through in their lives? How long have they been a customer? Are their interests and needs shifting? Is their level of brand satisfaction consistent?
Why? Really listening and making sense of their answers gives you valuable knowledge of their deeper needs. Sometimes they’re in need of a customized solution, which can be a relatively pricey solution. Other times, it’s about simply listening to them. All equally worthy investments, because it plants the seeds for the whole length of your further relationship.
Making it Part of Your Strategy
Makes sense, right? Well, it’s not that simple to integrate customer intimacy into your organization. The main reason is because every business unit that deals with customers on a daily basis has to cooperate to make it a success. Although there are several tricks (which I will tell you a little more about in my next blog) to do it right, it’s also a matter of having a knack for it: To find the right tone of voice; to make the right call at the right time – even if it doesn’t fall within the protocol. Really getting to know and understand your customer can be challenging. In a time where most customer contact takes place virtually, it is of ever increasing importance to do it right from the start, and in one shot.
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