Emotional connections are the building blocks of customer loyalty
Brand loyalty is achieved through emotion and trust, says Frederic Durand, the chief executive and founder of Diabolocom.
Today’s business environment is more competitive than ever before. The digital age has transformed not only how businesses operate but how they communicate with customers and it is now widely accepted that adopting a customer-centric approach can offer businesses the competitive advantage. A 2013 Walker report stated that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands and now just two years from 2020, trends indicate this was an accurate prediction.
Adopting a customer centric culture certainly plays a central role in cultivating customer loyalty to a brand. Loyal customers who feel a real connection to an organisation show commitment to that business by repeatedly choosing the brand over the competition and this commitment can represent significant financial return. Indeed, it is reported that existing repeat customers spend around 30% more than new ones and are much more likely to try new products from a brand already known to them. Loyal customers not only repeatedly return and purchase from the same favoured brand but also become advocates promoting the brand experience to others through positive word of mouth.
In the race to harness the competitive advantage, more and more businesses are realising the potential benefits of enhanced customer experience and are trying various strategies aimed at building coveted brand loyalty by offering special promotions, flash sales and loyalty programs. These tactics may work in achieving short-term sales but often the key to building lasting connections requires a simpler approach.
Brand loyalty is not just about customers liking the products and services a brand offers but is an evolutionary process forged through building a relationship that is based on human emotions. People like to have an emotional connection that’s makes them feel respected and valued. It makes sense that a positive emotional connection with a company will make customers more likely to want to interact with it again and again. Maintaining that connection is achieved by continually exceeding customer expectation while building on those emotional interactions.
In the era of online-based retail and communication, brands can easily become anonymous and often the main contact a customer will have with the brand will be through the contact centre. The contact may be via live chat, email or voice but each human interaction a customer has with the company has the power to transform customer perception and promote brand loyalty. A Customer Thermometer survey conducted across 1,000 people in the United States found that an incredible 65% of those surveyed felt a connection to a brand that they felt cared about them. The same study also revealed that 57% of those studied noted trust as an important ingredient in securing their commitment to a brand. There is no doubt that human emotional connections have the power to drive the strongest and longest lasting relationships.
Global online retailer Amazon is an anonymous brand completely void of face-to-face interaction but is ranked number one in the world for brand loyalty. Amazon places customer-centricity at the heart of everything it does, focusing on building long term connections with customers rather than short term financial wins. Despite Amazon’s huge size and global reach, its customers feel personal connections to the brand achieved through personalisation and unwavering customer service. The customer interface compliments appropriate automation though robotics and self-service options, while maximising on positive human interactions that build connections with customers. This customer centric approach has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in Amazon’s domination of the ecommerce market.
Exceeding customers’ expectations through proactive engagement; requesting, responding and acting on customer feedback and putting customers at the centre of business strategies has the power to build trusting relationships while keeping the audience connected to the brand. Consistent positive engagement with customers is so important in cementing these trust relationships which drives loyalty to a brand.
In the contact centre, the role of thoroughly trained customer handling professionals cannot be underestimated. Agents should be empowered to assist customers, resolving problems, surprising customers with unexpected solutions and ultimately turning complaints and negative interactions into positive ones. There is no doubt that brands that focus on emotion driven trust relationships with customers have the power to build brand loyalty and thrive in business.