Customer loyalty can be a difficult thing to retain. Human beings are frequently fickle and capricious, and can be unforgiving when their needs and expectations are not met. The best way to keep people ‘on side’ is to adhere to The Six PillarsTM of customer experience excellence, particularly in the areas of Personalisation, Time and Effort and Empathy. Furthermore, customer experience best practice is in evidence when those companies continue in their service to individuals, even when their hearts have already been won over.
Ability to tailor the experience
The desire to do this is often born out of genuine care and concern. That is why the strongest brands in the UK excel in the pillars of Personalisation and Empathy; they are able to tailor the customer experience to the requirements of the individual, and they often possess an intrinsic ability to see matters from their point of view in almost every interaction. This includes recognising that it is important to say “thank you”, and to reward customers for remaining loyal to the company. It helps to forge deeper, more personal, and more heartfelt relationships, which take the experience beyond a simple business transaction to one that is governed by more sincere human emotions.
And whilst simple loyalty card schemes can be occasionally devoid of such intimacy, one British supermarket has used it to positive effect by enabling customers to pick their own special offers. Simply put, shoppers who possess the retailer’s members card can choose the products that they would most like to receive a discount on, and continue to receive these discounts on a rolling basis. It saves money for the customer, but it also reveals the brand’s true heart; it demonstrates that it recognises the individuals’ different needs and wishes to cater to them, and is not simply discounting obscure products as part of a voracious promotional drive.
Another company that seeks to reward customers is the electronics retailer Richer Sounds. Sitting at number four in the UK Customer Experience Excellence rankings, the brand possesses an exceptional CEE score of 8.08, showing particular aptitude in the pillars of Personalisation and Empathy. And one of its most intriguing initiatives is its VIP Club, which delivers special offers to loyal members. As the brand states on its website: “…as a VIP we want to give you something extra. As well as giving you the big brands for less, by signing up you’ll get special VIP-only savings on our already low, everyday prices.” And one of the employees – dubbed Adam, from the Croydon store – adds: “Simply mention your membership in-store to receive exclusive VIP Club member deals and much, much more. Just give us your name and email address to sign up in a few moments.”
VIP membership also allows shoppers to visit a Richer Sounds outlet after all of the other customers have gone home. Richer Sounds says this is because it wants shoppers to enjoy an “enhanced” experience where it can spend more time with them on product demonstrations, free from the “the distraction of a busy shop floor.” Customers can engage with the brand on an individual, one-to-one level, with the company making it clear that it wants to ensure they leave with the product best suited to their needs, rather than one that will simply make them a quick profit.
Not to be outdone, another organisation which epitomises customer experience best practice is the financial services brand first direct, which currently sits at number two in the UK rankings. It is there for its customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, (even on Christmas Day), proving that it has a vested interest in their wellbeing. Furthermore, it promises to pay £125 into new customers’ bank accounts, provided they pay at least £1000 into them within a three month period.
Where first direct bucks the trend, though, is in its willingness to reward customers who leave them, provided they have been ‘loyal’ over a twelve month period. This is known as its £100 Service Guarantee, as first direct explains: “We’re so certain that you’ll enjoy our service better than anyone else’s, if you’re not happy banking with first direct after six months, and within twelve months, you can leave us and we’ll give you £100 for your trouble.”
As such, for companies like first direct and Richer Sounds, the rewarding of loyalty is not about the accumulation of points and sporadic discounts. It is about a sincere, mutual relationship between the customer and the brand, where the company has a vested interest in the individual’s wellbeing, and wants to continue to serve them. Any brand that adopts this attitude will soon learn to master the art of customer experience best practice.
For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.