If there’s one thing your customers don’t lack, it’s options. For every Coke, there’s a Pepsi. For every Uber, there’s a Lyft. For every Scandal, there’s a Game of Thrones.
In a world abundant with choice, how can companies win the long-term loyalty of customers? For many business leaders, that’s not only an important question—it is the question.
A new study from the digital agency Wunderman provides some answers. The study, called Wantedness, reveals eye-opening insight on what it takes to attract and retain customers. Business leaders who are serious about becoming more customer-led can learn a lot from this fascinating study. Here’s why.
Consumer expectations are high
Wunderman’s research reiterates that consumers want more from the companies they do business with. According to the study, 79 percent of consumers in the U.S. believe that brands should show that “they understand and care about me.” Eighty-eight percent want to engage with companies that go above and beyond.
What’s new from this study, however, is a concept called “wantedness.” From Wunderman’s perspective, wantedness is the “degree to which a brand proves its commitment to earning a customer’s business across every touchpoint and throughout the entire path to purchase.”
Jamie Gutfreund, global chief marketing officer Wunderman, says wantedness means showing customers they’re special—that they’re wanted by the brand. “To succeed as marketers,” explains Gutfreund, “we have to unlearn how we have traditionally approached planning and targeting in order to focus on real people, who they are and how they live.”
Proving your commitment to your customers
Wantedness requires showing customers that you care about them. The study offers three important and actionable takeaways to consider.
1. Understand the values of your consumers
Fifty-six percent of U.S. consumers feel more loyal to brands that demonstrate an understanding of their needs. For this reason, insight into your customers’ lives has never been more important.
“My advice to brands is get to know the consumer and adapt your messaging to deliver the information that the consumer wants,” Gutfreund tells CMO.com. “Consumers know that brands have all this data on them, and so they expect that companies will use it to build and deepen relationships.”
A deep understanding of your customers’ values is also critical. Eighty-nine percent of consumers say their purchasing decisions reflect what they stand for and believe in. That’s why, when harnessing customer intelligence, brands must think beyond behaviors and preferences. Business leaders need to prioritize ongoing customer engagement to truly understand the motivations and aspirations of their consumers.
2. Make your customers’ lives easier
Having great products alone doesn’t win customer loyalty. Sixty-three percent of U.S. consumers who participated in Wunderman’s study indicated that the best brands exceed their expectations across the entire customer journey.
And when it comes to a frictionless experience, the demand for better customer support is particularly high. Seventy-four percent of consumers say they look for brands that have exceptional customer service.
Wunderman’s finding echoes what experts such as the analyst firm Forrester are saying: that customer experience is the best way to gain a competitive advantage today. This understanding is sending shock waves throughout many organizations, forcing many companies to restructure. For example, two-thirds of CMOs are now responsible for customer experience. Smart marketing leaders are re-examining the end-to-end experience to meet rising expectations.
3. Measure yourself against the giants
How does your company stack up against world-class, household name brands? That’s an important question to consider because customers not only compare your brand to your competitors—they compare you to big brands. In fact, an overwhelming majority (87 percent) of consumers in the U.S. measure brands against behemoths like Netflix, Amazon and Starbucks.
“Consumers are comparing all brands to the Amazons and the Ubers of the world because those experiences are so fantastic that they are setting consumer expectations for all of their interactions with marketers and brands,” Gutfreund explains. “That is pretty significant because it reformulates the competitive set and also tells you that you need to have a different approach to your business, customer service, marketing and messaging.”
Making customers happy over and over again
The study warns that customer expectations have nowhere to go but up. Eighty-eight percent of U.S. consumers want brands to continue to push the boundaries. When it comes to customer retention, new ideas matter.
"You’ve got to be there at every touchpoint," advises Gutfreund. In an age when customers have unlimited choices, brands must switch from a campaign approach to an always-on, 24-7 engagement mentality. Companies need to demonstrate that they genuinely value their customers—and they need to do so consistently, and time and time again.
Download the e- book How to Keep Your Customers From Cheating on You for more expert tips on customer loyalty.