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Esposito Research & Strategy blog

Loyalty? What Loyalty?

Customer experience Mobile phone

As a customer experience practitioner, I always pay special attention to how companies treat me, their customer.

For 10 years, I was a customer of a particular mobile network provider. Despite receiving little proactive contact from them, I liked the brand, they were fun and dynamic and pretty reliable. In the last two years though, I’d been paying more and more on an inflexible contract. When the contract ran out, my provider did not get in touch to make me a compelling offer. I suppose I’d demonstrated I was pretty loyal, right?

WRONG! When the contract ran out, I started to look around. I found another provider – better prices, super-efficient, really friendly, who have already demonstrated their value by helping me set up lots of services on my phone.

I already feel super-loyal to them. And this raises some fundamental questions.

What is a customer?

Is it someone who is already buying from you? Someone who is considering but not sure? What about someone who has just left?

I’d argue all of these are customers – existing, potential and former (after all, a former customer could retain some potential for future custom if you play your cards right).

Can you rely on loyal customers?

Business evidence shows that companies rarely profit from their customers in the first year. So yes, loyalty does matter – to the bottom line.

But the market is not static, so loyalty can change over time, and it is up to you to keep your customers engaged and happy with your brand. You need to give them tangible evidence that they are still making the best choice by staying with you.

Is there anything to be gained from ex-customers?

Yes! Ex-customers can do a lot of damage, or a lot of good to your reputation. If they’ve left you for a competitor, they’ve already proved they can switch brands. And it means that, if you treat them as potential prospects, they could switch again – to your brand.

Take the long-term view with your ex-customers. Research why they left you, and what they value in your competitor offers. Explore the triggers that could bring them back to you.

Oh – and if you’re a service provider, don’t make customers who have just left you pay extra for copies of documents which they can no longer access online (you closed their account, remember?). That’s one sure way of getting yourself crossed off their consideration set permanently. They might even tell others about it and damage your reputation.

In many sectors, customers will be customers of several brands during their lifetime. To retain customers for as long as possible, keep giving them reasons to see you as the best brand for them. To retain their goodwill once they have left you, demonstrate you value their future custom. After all, an amicable separation is preferable to an all-guns-blazing divorce. For you, and for your customers!

To discuss what customer loyalty involves, call us or email us on hello@espositoresearch.com.

looking ahead

The last 12 months have seen a flurry of new research approaches.

Recruiting online communities via Facebook…Testing online journeys through a sequence of live surveys …Playful formats bringing quantitative surveys to life …Using Fitbit bracelets instead of a health diary …Advanced co-creation with consumers, suppliers and clients IN THE SAME ROOM…Yes, all of these are possible.

New technology is opening up fantastic ways to engage with your audience and find out what makes them tick.

We’re easy to talk to, so if you have so much as the gem of an idea or want to bounce around potential solutions to a business issue, do call us or email hello@espositoresearch.com.