As technology has caused a significant shift in consumer interactions and desires, retailers have to follow suit in order to retain the consumers’ business. Customer loyalty is an increasingly fickle thing. And, as convenience has become so easily attainable for today’s consumers, some retailers believe that the only competitive arena left is price. However, this is not always the case at all.
An article on Loyalty360.org shared the results of a recent study conducted with the help of a University of Rochester professor. The study created a customer-brand relationship model based on a popular relationship theory – Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. It used components of relationships and paralleled them to retail loyalty.
The study of 1,000 consumers shared that 86 percent would go to other retailers, rather than their favorite brand, if it were more convenient. However this can easily be handled by providing the right customer experience.
For the study, the repurposed Theory of Love focused on three components to determine consumer brand relationships – intimacy (willingness to share information with the retailer), passion (brand enthusiasm) and commitment (loyalty). And what is interesting it that it was found that the more of these attributes a consumer had towards a brand, the more likely they are to remain a loyal customer and become a brand advocate and recommend the retailer to others. In fact, 96 percent of devoted customers would recommend a retailer to others, demonstrating the importance of creating and maintaining devoted customer relationships.
All too often, customer loyalty is rewarded based on transactions, rather than a customer’s behavior. In fact, many of today’s consumers want a more personalized experience with “surprise and delight” type rewards and experiences, rather than simple discounts or free services. And for that great customer experience they will pay with the best currency of all – their loyalty. Think about it this way: some salespeople are more motivated, give their loyalty faster and, in turn, work harder for a manager who is supportive and validates their efforts with a pat on the back. They prefer that over any cash weekend spiff. However, many managers assume that money is the most motivating thing. For some, I am sure it is. But what about those salespeople or employees for whom that is not the case? You could just be motivating and rewarding part of your staff while leaving the ones who merely want recognition out in the cold.
Customers are the same way. Some may want discounts and freebies, while others seek more of a high level customer experience and desire recognition from you in return for their business.
Running the dealership as if customers are on an assembly line – even when a loyalty program is in place – can alienate those customers who merely want to be recognized, appreciated and feel welcome.
The sad part is that this second group of customers wouldn’t cost you a penny – only a few minutes of your time to welcome them to the store and thank them for their business. In fact, the same study reported that 59 percent “would buy more if retailers understood their individual needs and requirements better.”
Take the time to get to know your customers through all necessary means. But mainly through personal interaction and attempt to understand what motivates each of them.
Everyone is different. While this may seem like a hard task to accomplish. With, in some cases, hundreds of customers visiting your dealership on a daily basis, the effort required can transform some of that 86 percent who would patronize your competition into loyal brand advocates. These loyal advocates tend to spend more money with you and bring their friends and families with them. And that’s a winning combination!