Winning Hearts & Minds - Loyalty in Action

All too often, clients tell us that they have “no problems” with customer loyalty simply because ongoing customer satisfaction surveys tell them their customers are “satisfied". However, we’ve learned from our experience that mere “satisfaction” cannot be equated with true loyalty.

We know that:

  • “Satisfied” customers are not necessarily loyal customers, as our internal research has shown that 60% of defecting customers are likely to describe themselves as “satisfied”.
  • We have established that true customer loyalty is a function of both Attitudes and Behaviours and is often not fully understood via a single measure.
  • Truly loyal customers form connections to the brand that are heartfelt and emotional in nature. These customers tend to form bonds with brands and the individuals who represent them, deriving a sense of satisfaction from that relationship.

Loyalty is both having and showing allegiance

Loyalty, as a metric, is a measure of the current state of an individual that summarises all they have done and felt in a way that best predicts what they will do in the future. Satisfaction reflects customers’ attitudes about past company performance. Loyalty is a function of both attitudes and behaviours. These can be impacted by experiences across all of the brand’s customer touch points.

  • Behaviours - "What I do"
  • Attitudes - "How I feel"
  • Touch points - "What I experience"

In practice, we often measure “loyalty” using a wide variety of metrics. This is partly because overly simplistic views of customer loyalty are unable to provide a complete picture of reality. Customers make decisions in an evolving environment and this shapes their attitudes, spending behaviours and loyalties to a firm over time.

Alignment between the brand message and customer experience

Brands often make promises in their messaging, either inherently or overtly. But, do these promises align with the actual customer experience? When they don’t, customers may be put off and emotional ties to the brand are weakened. Consistent buying behaviours are likely to erode over time if the actual customer experience with the brand is a letdown. Firms must align their messaging with the actual customer experience to build positive emotion, shape attitudes and garner the desired buying behaviours.

Closing thoughts

Behaviours alone don’t tell the full story about loyalty and engagement.

While rational factors are important, customer relationships typically contain an emotional, attitudinal component that cannot be overlooked or discounted by marketers.

The battle for hearts and minds will continue with a multi-pronged approach:

  • Marketing and operational teams will have to align on the brand promise (the message) and the actual brand experience. Without this, there will always be a degree of disconnect in the minds of customers.
  • Marketing teams will continue to reinforce the functional, rational aspects of their services that count most to consumers, such as price, reliability and technology.
  • But, messages will promote themes that generate feelings and emotions about their brand. Naturally, they will be designed and targeted according to sector, but it will be more common to see messaging with components such as: individuality, youthfulness, consistency/dependability and social connectivity, among others.

Emotional appeals are meant to impact attitudinal loyalty, and are drivers that help to differentiate between brands that are functionally more similar than different.

Customer Experience