What’s the best way to build customer loyalty?

What’s the best way to build customer loyalty?

October 23, 2015
What’s the best way to build customer loyalty?

Everybody loves loyal customers. And for good reason.

They give repeat business, spend more money with you over time and sometimes become brand advocates on social media—influencing purchasing decisions among friends, family, and total strangers.

So, how do you encourage customers to be loyal? A lot of advice on customer relationships tells you to “delight” your customers. This tactic focuses on going above and beyond the customer’s expectations by doing things such as sending customers unexpected gifts or getting personal with them on social media. But, a recent CEB study found that there is virtually no difference in loyalty when you exceed customer expectations versus simply meeting them. After 97,000 customer interviews, it became clear that there is little difference to customer loyalty when you exceed customer expectations versus simply meeting them.

customer loyalty

Image source: CEB Effortless Experience

Also of note, it’s really difficult to ‘delight’ customers. It only happens 16% of the time and it requires a 10-20% increase in operating costs to achieve. While I’m not advocating that brands stop trying to make customers happy—I do want to make it clear that delighting customers doesn’t have a significant impact on driving loyalty.

Make it easy for customers to complete their task

So, what is the number one driver of customer loyalty? Again, according to the CEB study, reducing customer effort drives loyalty. By making it easier for customers to complete their jobs to be done you create a pleasant experience that customers will want to return to over and over again.

Reducing customer effort or providing ‘low effort’ experiences, is more strongly correlated to an increase in customer loyalty than a customer high satisfaction score (CSAT) or even your Net Promoter Score (NPS).This was the key finding in an extensive study into customer service and loyalty by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) who interviewed over 97,000 customers across geographies and demographics.

Embed support into the customer experience

Customer service is embedded into most retail experiences in brick and mortar stores. Store clerks are usually only an aisle or call away. In the digital world however, there is not a consistent and obvious visual cue for help as we navigate hundreds of websites and apps across our various devices. Instead, as customers or potential customers, we usually arrive on a website or an app and have to work out how the Help or Contact Us section of this particular experience works. It should be easier and the most innovative brands are taking a cue.

For instance, LeTote is an online shopping experience that invests in effortless support. This fashion retailer in San Francisco, uses the Zendesk Web Widget on their website to provide access to their self-service (Help Center) articles and allow their customers and potential customers to contact them easily without leaving the page they are browsing:

“We are providing a service to simplify women’s lives. So offering our members a way to let them answer their own questions, by searching our Help Center via the widget whenever was most convenient for them, really improved their experience. We have also seen Chat consistently perform the highest of all our channels because of the immediacy and ease of issue resolution. It allows members to contact Le Tote and get their questions answered right away, without taking time out of their day.” -Jess Warinner, Customer Loyalty Manager, LE TOTE

At Zendesk, we want our customers like LeTote to be able to integrate help within their product experiences. Support should not be a separate destination, forcing you to leave the context of what you are doing and go somewhere else to get help, it should be seamlessly integrated within your experience.

Our Web Widget and Mobile SDK help end-users more easily complete or resolve their jobs to be done without having to context switch, find out more