Companies know they need to pay attention to their customers. They know the financial benefits that come from keeping their customers happy. And most have put satisfaction programs in place. Now, how can companies move beyond simply satisfying customers to ensuring their loyalty?
Loyalty vs. Satisfaction
First, let’s step back a moment. What’s the difference between satisfaction and loyalty—aren’t they the same thing? No! As a performance metric, customer satisfaction measures how well customers’ expectations are met. Customer loyalty measures customers’ likeliness to continue doing business with your company and their willingness to perform partnership activities on your behalf, such as referring others to do business with you, too. It’s safe to say customer satisfaction is a prerequisite for customer loyalty; however, customer satisfaction does not mean customers will return.
Giving Customers a Voice
Traditionally, satisfaction and loyalty fell to the companies who could innovate faster or cheaper. Now, offering a better or less expensive product is not always the answer, especially if the advantages can be quickly copied by competitors. The key to earning the loyalty of customers today is understanding and, better yet, anticipating their needs. In this regard, it’s the organizations that can tap into the voice of the customer that can achieve best success.
With Voice of the Customer (VoC) solutions, practices and processes in place to consistently analyze your customers’ interactions and their behaviors over time, across all your various interaction channels, as well as collect their direct feedback, you can come to understand what adds value to their relationship with your company. Creating and managing the critical value-adding parts of your partnership with customers is central to achieving their lasting loyalty. When they feel understood and well-served by your organization, why would they go anywhere else?
Using the Voice of the Customer, Enterprise-Wide
Making the voice of the customer more widely available across your organization is likely to result in new product or service ideas, and drive improved customer loyalty and retention. Plus, it can create a more customerâcentric organization that builds relationships with customers over the long-term.
The success of VoC programs does not come from capturing customer interactions or collecting customer feedback. It comes from generating actionable insights out of the mass of raw data contained in these interactions and feedback. That means going beyond simplistic questions that give a snapshot view of products and services, and making sure that the right people get the right information at the right time and in the right form to help them infuse all company policies and offerings with the voice of the customer.
Satisfying customers is a worthy goal. But it is of limited, short-term value if it does not lead to loyalty. Companies must take a hard look at their approach to customer satisfaction, and perhaps measure it in a more perceptive and holistic manner. Improving loyalty is a matter of understanding the nature of your relationship with customers and anticipating its potential. Products and service are no longer enough: relationship is emerging as the bigger differentiator.