Customer loyalty is one of the most pressing issues facing marketers today. Thanks to advancements in technology, customers have more information and more choices, and are less inclined to stick to just one brand. Without loyal customers, companies can’t ensure long-term profitability.
“Your customers have fewer reasons to be loyal than ever before and are really less loyal than they’ve ever been before,” said Emily Collins, a Forrester Research analyst, at Forrester’s 2014 Forum for Customer Experience Professionals East. “They have a voice that’s loud and far reaching and they have heightened expectations for the way companies interact with and serve them.”
The need to drive brand loyalty has never been more critical. And as this week’s articles show, some brands are doing it well. Here are three recent tactics brands have taken in order to win (or in some cases, to regain) the business of the empowered customer.
- Delivering compelling products.
J.C. Penney is making a huge comeback—and it’s doing so by putting the attention back to its customers.
“We are focused on earning the loyalty of our customers by delivering on our compelling customer proposition,” said CEO Myron E. Ullman during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. As Jim Tierney, Content Editor at Loyalty360, notes, the embattled brand is luring customers back through stylish private brands, exclusive offerings, and a more seamless customer experience.
These tactics are helping the retailer win customers back, increasing its sales 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Delivering compelling products helps J.C. Penney win customers back. (CLICK TO TWEET)
- Making customers the hero.
Rebekah Iliff, chief strategy officer for technology platform AirPR, believes the key to brand loyalty is telling stories that put the customer in the spotlight. In a Mashable article, Iliff says marketers need to take a “customer as a hero” approach in order to win the business of customers.
Western Union’s #WUHomeCooked marketing campaign demonstrates how companies can focus on customers, according to Iliff. The heartwarming campaign featured customers from Turkey, Brazil and Chicago sharing their stories about leaving their home countries. The company surprised them with personalized dining adventures.
“Forget wire transfers, this was about how customers connected on a fundamental, human level,” says Iliff. With over six million views, the campaign is helping Western Union increase mindshare in the U.S., where, according to the company’s own customer research, it has less brand recognition compared to markets in the developing world.
The key to brand loyalty is to tell stories that put the customer in the spotlight – @rebekahiliff (CLICK TO TWEET)
- Listening to customer feedback.
In the last few years, Chipotle has become a leader in fast-casual dining, stealing market share from fast-food companies like McDonald’s. Partly that’s because diners like how the company prioritizes naturally raised, local food. The company has also emphasized the importance of listening to customers.
One example is its 2014 “Cultivating Thought” initiative, which featured messages from writers like Toni Morrison and Malcolm Gladwell. As the journalist Judith Aquino noted in 1to1Media, the project “came about because a customer told Chipotle that he wished he had something to read while he was at their restaurants.”
That’s just one example of how Chipotle integrates customer feedback, and it illustrates how customer engagement is ingrained in the company. The payoff is substantial: Chipotle’s revenue increased by 27.8 percent in 2014.
Emphasis on listening to customer feedback helps Chipotle drive customer loyalty. (CLICK TO TWEET)
A common thread connects these tactics: a deeper understanding of the customer. Whether making decisions about new products or crafting new marketing stories, companies need to put their customers in the forefront. That’s why ongoing two-way engagement and iterative learning is what truly drives brand loyalty. The need to collaborate with consumers and to tap into their insight has never been more urgent for companies seeking to prosper in the age of the empowered customer.
To learn more about brand loyalty, please register for The New Rules of Customer Loyalty, a webinar featuring Forrester Research.