Social CEM: Moving Beyond Customer Loyalty to Customer Advocacy And Customer Experience (Part 4)

Welcome to Part 4 of this topic! I hope you’re finding it informative so far.

3. Deciding When (and When Not) to Take Action on Customer Feedback

Almost all businesses collect feedback from their customers. The problem is that

few incorporate that feedback into their operation or follow up with customers on

their concerns. This is often discouraging to the customers that provide feedback

in good faith that it will be used by the brand (Figure 6).

fig6

As we can see from Empathica research on the big box retailer experience in

Figure 6, survey results showed that 85% of consumers have provided some

form of feedback to big box retailers, yet only 46% of respondents believe that

brands actually use this feedback to make constructive changes to the customer

experience. In addition, only 52% believe that feedback is shared with individual

locations.

 

Consumer feedback overload can be a problem as well. In an attempt to be

more responsive to customers, brands often provide their staff with data but

stores/locations can be overwhelmed with the data they get from head office.

For instance, what should be done with negative reviews on Yelp or Google?

Should they direct my staff to focus on an issue because of one or two negative

comments received in the last month? Location managers don’t have the time

or expertise to digest and interpret the data. This causes a lack of focus and the

advent of social media can only make things worse. The answer lies in using

information from different sources at the right time.

 

Unstructured data (for example reviews from sites like Google or Yahoo) can be

very useful to observe trends at the brand level, but often contain an insufficient

volume of location specific data to be helpful to individual stores. Structured data

sources (e.g. survey responses) can be highly instructive for location specific

issues. Semi-structured data (like that from social review sites like Yelp or open ended

survey responses) can also be useful for locations as they may point to

specific issues with service or product when taken in aggregate. It is important

for brands to realize data from unstructured sources should not be given undue

weight versus feedback from semi-structured and structured sources (see Figure

7) like the customer satisfaction survey which relates to the individual location.

fig7

This is critically important to avoid location managers wrongly interpreting one or

two bad comments (that may or may not apply to their location) and changing

their approach without looking at feedback in aggregate for their location or

understanding how this impacts customer loyalty.

 

4. Consistently Delivering Customer Experiences That Positively Affect

Your Brand

 

With the advent of social media, ecommerce and global Internet shopping, your

customers are always just a click away from purchasing from a competitor. While

some customers, on occasion, will buy a company’s products or services even

though they have had a bad experience along the way, this has become the

exception not the rule with the variety of choice now available in the market. The

old mentality of “build it and they will come” worked in the past if the company

devised a way to completely lock up the marketplace. However, locking the

market is no longer possible in today’s globally connected competitive landscape.

Companies need to pay attention to the customer experience they deliver because

customers will post their experiences online and affect the opinion and shopping/

purchasing habits of other customers.

 

However, consistently delivering a great customer experience across all locations

remains a challenge for all multi-unit brands as seen in a restaurant example in

Figure 8.

fig8

As much as overall improvement is key, just as important for brands as they grow

is to develop a consistent experience. Being good every time is far better than

being great and terrible, each some of the time.

 

5. Going Beyond the Loyalty Stage to Drive Active Advocacy

 

For many years, one of the primary goals for brand marketers has been driving

customer loyalty and thus one of the 20th century customer experiences goals

was to create loyalty (i.e. generating higher customer lifetime values as customers

are consistently delighted and buy more over longer periods of time).

The 21st century goal is to add an additional step to the customer lifecycle

called customer advocacy (see Figure 4).Why? A study entitled “Inside the Buy”4

revealed that the very idea of loyalty has changed for 97% of consumers and that

a new consumer behavior, “contemporary loyalty,” is redefining loyalty.

 

It was a widely held belief that consumers who bought a brand and liked it

would potentially become brand loyalists. In the past, brand marketers felt that

the demonstration of preference for that brand over competitors or even generic

store brands meant loyalty. The wake-up call for proponents of brand loyalty is

that because consumers are exposed to so much more information, especially

with the penetration of mobile devices, they are more open to a wider range of

choices in the marketplace. The study showed that consumers do a fair amount

of research (primarily online) prior to purchasing a product, from a high of 64%

before buying electronics, to a low of 25% before purchasing food or fashion.

Of those surveyed, 94% indicated that their decision to buy was “positively

influenced” by research. Around half of consumers visit a brand’s website to

research the brand prior to purchase, and 40% said they go to third-party review

sites, but almost 75% rely on general consumer reviews as their first choice for

research intelligence.

 

At the click of a mouse, consumers can be persuaded by all the online content,

especially content written by other consumers, to become interested and even

purchase from another brand. Because of the proliferation of online reviews and

content, purchase consideration has dramatically changed. Brand marketers

must re-examine their views on brand loyalty because this online world has lead

to constant competition to get “wallet share” from the consumer. This presents

brand marketers with a new challenge to make sure they get their products in

front of real influencers (reviewers and consumers alike) and can result in costly

outreach “blogger” type programs. In fact, bloggers sometimes expect to be paid

for their endorsement of products and services.

 

Look out for Part 5 soon!

 

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