Many of the organizations I have worked with say that customer loyalty means, “the customer buys everything from us.” But buying everything from you does not make them loyal. Great customers? Yes. Loyal customers? Not so fast.
Customer loyalty is not the same thing as customer sales volume. Sales volume follows loyalty, but it does not form loyalty. In other words, sales volume is an effect, a behavior of customer loyalty, but not an exclusive attribute. It could be that the company that “buys everything” from you is doing so out of habit, not a choice, and is only one tempting sales pitch away from ditching you for the competition.
So, What Really is Customer Loyalty?
As global customer experience consultants, we explain it this way to our clients:
Customer Loyalty is the result of a consistently positive emotional experience, rational attribute-based satisfaction, and perceived value of an experience that includes the product or services.
Some great things about loyal customers are:
- They stick with you, even when there could be reasons to explore their options.
- They do not require a lot of marketing dollars to educate them about your offerings.
- They are less likely to shop around.
But probably the most significant thing about a loyal customer is:
- They will make sacrifices for you and buy from you even when they have a different and possibly better option than yours.
When you consider all these things, it is clear why customer loyalty is something every brand wants.
If you want to influence how customers evaluate their experience with you (i.e., their memory of it), then you need to manage the peak emotion felt during your experience and how the customer feels as the experience concludes.