All companies want a certain level of long term brand loyalty from their customers. And on the flip side, customers actually do seek out that brand to be loyal to. So it can be a win-win for both parties. The brand or company gets the steady income stream and the loyal customer doesn’t have to search and “break in” a new product or service.
The customer knows and is comfortable with the experience, and the brand or company has set the expectations and urges the customer to continue using their product or service.
But what does that really mean when a company or brand asks a customer to use their product or service?
Well let’s break it down to the ridiculous.
When we ask customers to purchase our product or service, we are asking them to basically exchange their hard earned money for what we are offering.
A simple enough and logical explanation. But let’s take that just a step further. There’s a deeper meaning.
What we are really asking is for the customer to get up in the morning, get their coffee, fight traffic, work all day, get their paycheck, and then exchange that hard work for our product or service.
So, when we say that the customer journey is an emotional one, we really mean that.
What can be more emotional than exchanging a portion of our life for a product or service?
Because that is in essence what we are asking. It’s not just money it’s what that money symbolizes. And when you look at it like this, then the entire customer journey and their need to feel secure and emotionally protected when making the purchase takes on a different light.
So that being said, and I’m not making light of it, when a brand doesn’t deliver and the customer’s expectations aren’t met — it hurts their feelings!
Brand Loyalty Is Emotional
Sometimes you can’t help losing brand loyalty. It’s a fatality that is completely out of your control.
For instance, local businesses during the pandemic and how masks and social distancing put them at odds with their own loyal customers. This, of course, is out of the control of the store owners, however it’s worth a quick look at a potential reason why people get so angry about it. There is a lesson to be learned when we see these arguments that come up. You may have seen them on the news or in YouTube videos with “Karens” or other people that are causing issues.
So then let’s say they have this certain grocery store and it’s the only grocery store that they go to for 15 years. When they get to the door and are about to go in, as they always have, they are confronted by somebody, perhaps somebody they might not even know, who tells them that they cannot no longer come through the door without a mask.
This is a major blow to the loyal customer. They feel like they are in their second home, in a place where they “belong” and love coming. Then all of a sudden they get the feeling that it’s all been ripped away. They may even have the mask in their hand, ready to put it on…
And the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, “I’ve been shopping here for ten years!” or “I’ve been shopping here for 20 years! You’re going to lose your customer!”
However, what they are really saying is “I only come here because I’m a loyal customer!”
Of course, at this point the store needs to stand their ground because it comes to health and safety. It would be the same thing as if somebody who had been shopping there for 20 years came up there with no shirt, no shoes, with their dog and smoking a cigarette.
Brand Loyalty Means The Customer Belongs…And That Can Be Fatal
The main reason for their disappointment is because of their brand loyalty. They are loyal to that particular grocery store. They know where everything is and to some it may even be more than just a grocery store. It could be the place that they go to just get away for a little bit, but still do something constructive. That is, grocery shopping. It may just be their very escape from the outside (kids, work, bills, pressures).
Of course, the store has most likely worked very hard to create this safe and pleasant atmosphere and they want that brand loyalty. But the customer doesn’t see this type of relationship as brand loyalty to a grocery store- they see it as FRIEND loyalty. They don’t say “I’m going down to such-n-such grocery store”. No, they say “I’m going down to Dave’s” or “I’m going down to Food Lion”.
They say it by name
—or if they do say I’m going down to “the store”, everybody else in the household or everybody around knows exactly where they’re going. There is only ONE “the store”. That brand loyalty becomes a part of their everyday life. A part of their homes.
Now, these storefront confrontations aren’t true for all loyal customers, but for those that do react, this entitled emotional response is triggered by their sense of security brought about by their loyalty being threatened. I’m in no way defending these outbursts (which sometimes lead to violence and arrests) . I’m merely pointing out why they may feel this way, and how brand loyalty can lead to a much larger disappointment than anticipated.
A Brand Cannot Rest On The Past
Meeting the expectations of your brand loyalty is crucial. Everyday.
You see, the long term loyalists who pay the most attention to your company or brand are your biggest fans, so speak. However, they are also the ones who will feel the biggest disappointment. Remember the cola wars back in the 80’s?
Even a lifelong Coca Cola drinker who may have consumed thousands of cans of perfect soda over their lifetime will go bananas with just one bad experience.
Why? because their expectations have been set. That’s how these brands flourish, by delivering a consistent customer experience. And as we’ve pointed out, disappointing your customers expectations, even one time, is a devastating blow.
It may not seem fair. It may not seem that It should be right. And you’re left thinking “I just can’t believe that they’re upset over this one little mistake!”
But you have to understand that they are upset because their expectations were set.
That’s how brand loyalty can be fatal. The customer has exchanged their hard earned cash and they want the experience that they have been enjoying. When the brand doesn’t deliver…it’s a catastrophe.
Save Yourself From Disaster
So, what CAN you do to save yourself, your company or brand, from fatality?
Again focusing on the entire customer experience and having a top-notch customer support customer service and support! It’s simply critical, especially with SAS and tech company startups.
A lot of things can go wrong with companies that have many moving parts. And it’s never a good idea to put your developers on the line to deal with customers. They need to be busy working in the back; they need to be doing what they do best.
And the business owners need to be looking for ways to generate new income and making sure that everything is up and running.
Aces in places.
What every company or brand needs on the front lines is a knowledgeable staff of customer service and customer support. People who can pick up the phone and take the angriest, most belligerent, frustrated, customer and be understanding. Support agents who realize what the customer may be going through and how their expectations haven’t been met. That the customer is highly disappointed.
That their feelings are hurt!
Customer support is not a place to try and cut costs or save overhead. Believe it or not, your customer support can be the biggest revenue generator in your company. You have no control over who your customers are, their personality, or what kind of day they are having. You can also not control how they will react when things go awry. However, what can be controlled is how your brand or company responds to those customers who are having a less than desirable experience.
Furthermore, there will be times when you have to tell the customer “no”. That you can’t get around. But to ensure a great customer experience, you have to understand why they’ll be upset and also how to tell them no. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative to have customer support professionals, who are making a career out of customer support, to handle your most delicate situations.
Otherwise, that brand loyalty you’ve worked so hard to achieve, will be your biggest enemy.