Many companies believe that high ratings from satisfied customers tell how their business is doing and that is why many business leaders relate the success or failure with customer satisfaction ratings.
Customer satisfaction is an important indicator of customer loyalty, but that does not mean that those same fully satisfied customers will purchase from the same company again or recommend the company to their friends, family and coworkers. Moreover, customer’s satisfaction is easy to achieve and only helps the company do well in a certain period of time, while customer’s loyalty helps the company in the long run and is much harder to achieve.
Why is customer’s loyalty harder to achieve than customer’s satisfaction?
According to Wikipedia, “customer satisfaction is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. Customer satisfaction is defined as “the number of customers, or percentage of total customers, whose reported experience with a firm, its products, or its services (ratings) exceeds specified satisfaction goals.”
A lot of companies can leave their customers satisfied. They don’t have to leave their customers pretty impressed; they just have to satisfy them. And it is not that hard to do that. Most companies are expected to fulfill their customers’ expectations. That is why I said that a LOT of companies are able to satisfy their customers, but only a few can give a reason to their customers to come back and turn them to loyal customers.
That reason can be anything, from creating an emotional and intellectual bond, to connecting with customers on a spiritual level if you want.
According to businessdictonary.com, customer loyalty is “the likelihood of previous customers to continue to buy from a specific organization. Great attention is given to marketing and customer service to retain current customers by increasing their customer loyalty. Organizations employ loyalty programs which reward customers for repeat business.”
Why loyal customers are more important than satisfied customers?
• Their recommendation is essential for a company. Loyal customers are the ones that recommend a company’s products or services to other people and especially to close friends, colleagues and family. What more can a company wish for than having loyal customers who promote their products and services for free and have greater chance at convincing their close circle of friends and family since they are reliable and trustworthy to them.
• Their loyalty makes them say ‘no’ to better offers. Not only do loyal customers recommend and promote for free but they also refuse to buy the same products from another company even when the offers get pretty competitive.
• They let the company know if there is a problem right away. Loyal customers will never act satisfied and write bad reviews afterwards. In most cases, loyal customers will let the company know if there is a problem right away, thus their opinion and feedback is much more important and reliable compared to satisfied or fully satisfied consumers.
According to Graham Tutton (Vice President of Customer Solutions, DataCo LLC ) : “Customer research has evolved tremendously over the last 30 years. From “satisfaction” measurement of the 1970’s, “value” of the 80’s, to the more recent exploration of “loyalty” – there has been an underlying theme of trying to leverage customer opinions to affect change in business performance. To that end, measuring “satisfaction” isn’t the best way to provoke change, as it does not strive for excellence or exceeding customer expectations.” http://www.thewisemarketer.com/features/read.asp?id=110
Loyalty unlike satisfaction is deeply connected with emotions. According to Igniting Customer Connections author, Andy Frawley “customer experience is the emotional connection a customer has with a brand.” The more connected the customers are with a brand emotionally and spiritually, the better the chances of them turning to loyal customers are.
Let’s take Apple as an example.
According to Statista.com article “iPhone users are more loyal to Apple than users of any other smartphone brand are. According to data from Morgan Stanley’s AlphaWise tracker, which compiles sell-through data using web search analysis, 90% of iPhone users stick with the brand when purchasing another phone. Samsung, Apple’s largest competitor, managed to improve its brand retention rate significantly over the past years, but still trails Apple by 13 percentage points.”
You for sure know what happens every time Apple announces a new product. People line up outside the stores to be the first to get their hands on the ‘latest technology’ as most of them call it. We are not talking about satisfied customers here. Satisfied customers would never go this far. We are talking about loyal customers who strongly believe in their chosen brand over any other brand. They stay in the line for hours and even for days, in some cases. That is how much important Apple products are for them. They aren’t just loyal customers who keep coming back for more products; they also want to be the first to buy those products.
That tells us that the bond Apple has created with its customer is not just a casual bond. People identify themselves as ‘cool,’ ‘indie,’ and even ‘hip’ by just using an Apple product. They feel like they belong in a community with like-minded people who are ‘obsessed’ with the latest technology. While I am not a big fan of Apple myself, I understand why so many people feel very connected with the brand emotionally. They define themselves with Apple products and the “think different’ slogan. They trust the company and believe in the value superiority of Apple products.
This is what any company must aim for in the first place: customer’s loyalty, which can be achieved only by developing a strong connection and relationship with the costumers, by being trustworthy, by going the extra mile and making every product or service beneficial to the customer, by adding value and giving high customer service that will turn the interaction between the company and the customers into an experience, rather than just a successful transaction that leaves them satisfied.
That is what we stand for here – above and beyond customer service leading to satisfaction and loyalty.
What do you think about loyalty? Do you feel connected in any level with some particular brands? Why? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!