By Jamey Lutz—
Seventy percent of a customer’s loyalty today is based on how that customer is treated. A major study by McKinsey and Company found the better customers are treated, the more apt they will be to return and ardently promote your product or service to others.
Here is the challenge. Most companies know that! Yet, they fall victim to a belief their bottom line will be sustained by consistently providing customers with merely a satisfactory service experience. The rationale goes something like this: “If we can simply meet our customers’ requirements and expectations on a regular basis, they will stay with us for life.” Sadly, while this approach may serve to keep you financially afloat, it will never provide the sustainable growth necessary to differentiate you from your competition.
Today’s customers consider okay, satisfactory, pretty good, and nothing special service to be mediocre. Yesterday’s customer grade of B might not get you a C today! Why? Here are a few reasons.
When a customer does business with an organization at any point along their service journey, their cumulative encounters will result in one of three evaluations: the organization exceeded their expectations, simply met their expectations, or failed to meet their expectations. These expectations are formed over time based upon prior interactions with the company, service provided by competitors, and word of mouth from friends, family and social media.
But, perhaps the biggest factor shaping their expectations are the superior service experiences they have received from others, regardless of industry. When your customer goes to Disney World, shops at Nordstrom, or buys online from Zappos, their experiences become fodder for comparisons to you. Is your website as easy as Amazon? Is your phone answered as quickly as FedEx? Is your product as cool as a Harley? All those experiences elevate the standards for every enterprise on the planet—whether fair or not!
The Merely satisfied customers receive exactly what was expected… nothing more, nothing less. At service exemplar companies like The Ritz-Carlton, Chick-fil-A, USAA and Harley Davidson, delivering a service experience that does not exceed customer expectations is regarded as a failure. Even an Uber driver whose customer ratings fall below a 4.5 on a 5-point scale, loses his or her license to represent the Uber brand.
But wait! Isn’t our ultimate objective to always satisfy our customers and successfully meet their expectations? Not if your company is truly committed to driving business outcomes like higher customer return/retention rates, deeper relationships, larger share of wallet, and increased referrals. And, certainly not if you want to build a devoted customer base that will become avid extensions of your sales and marketing tactics.
Mere satisfaction is just not enough in today’s increasingly high-tech, high-touch world. Customers simply have too many choices to take their business elsewhere. Customer loyalty, on the other hand, is the perfect antidote to fickle consumers who will bail on you at the first minor hiccup. Focus on adding strategies that foster customer loyalty and consistently exceed their expectations. Mere satisfaction or loyalty… what will you focus on today?