Brand loyalty is dying – here’s how marketers can win back customers
By Lee Miles, chief customer success officer, Sitecore
Global brands now find themselves at a pivotal moment. Consumers are more conscious of the experiences and interactions they have with brands, while they continue to deal with the ongoing global political and economic uncertainty around the world. The past two years have been challenging for many organizations, but wavering customer loyalty is an imminent hurdle that will have to be overcome.
People are now on the hunt for the best prices and quality customer experiences – and they’re ready to ditch previous brand loyalty to get them. According to an Advanis and Sitecore study of US and UK consumers, only a third of Americans describe themselves as “very loyal” to their favorite brand. Meanwhile, a third of UK consumers are willing to change their brand allegiance if another can offer better value. This means brands on both sides of the Atlantic must do more than ever to impress.
Consumers are quick to break up’ with once-beloved brands partly due to a lack of connection. Two-thirds of US consumers vowed not to shop with a brand again following a single poor experience, while 71% of Brits haven’t gone back to a brand after vowing never shop there again. Customer experience expectations are at an all-time high.
With spending continuing to decline and consumers increasingly conscious about the brands they are engaging with, building long-lasting connections with customers are key. Our research told us that the majority (70% in the US and 54% in the UK) want deeper, more personal connections with brands. And almost nine-in-10 respondents from both countries believe that communicating with empathy and understanding is the most powerful way for brands could build those relationships.
So, how can brand marketers align with shoppers’ new demands and head off any potential drop in loyalty? We all know that understanding customer issues is key to rebuilding relationships, but equally consumers are now holding brands accountable for creating experiences that are:
Personalization has been a big focus for marketers in recent years, and it continues to be one of the most important ways to attract and retain customers. In fact, more than four-in-five US and UK consumers build stronger connections with brands that deliver insightful recommendations and remember their previous interactions, and over 70% want brands to acknowledge key milestones in their lives.
“With Sitecore, UPMC’s personalization is more aligned with our patients’ interests and perceived goals, so we’re delivering a much richer patient experience, “said Sean Tubridy, marketing technology manager, UPMC.
To offer this kind of tailored experience to each and every customer, marketers need to be able to build a full picture of individuals and leverage available data – from frequent purchases to payment preferences. Only then will brands be able to target each customer with the most relevant and effective content which could include personalized deals and discounts delivered in the right channel at the right time.
Consumers want to interact with brands that provide support along the purchase journey. And customer service is paramount to this success with 59% of Brits and 64% of Americans rating this part of brand interaction as very important. In fact, 82% of consumers on both sides of the Atlantic would be more loyal to brands with customer support agents and channels that take a more human and flexible approach, ditching the script and effectively solving customer issues on a one-to-one basis.
While there is no doubt that chatbots and automated phone lines can be helpful when it comes to solving day-to-day repetitive and standard issues, when it comes to more difficult and personal enquiries, consumers want a brand that cares – or at least comes across like it does. Building on the technology of chatbots to make them easier to use is critical, but weaving in a human element is key to delivering quality customer experiences.
Our research found that 41% of UK shoppers still want in-person experiences, with 46% of US consumers feeling the same, so blending digital and physical experiences and providing a ‘whatever suits’ approach ensures everyone is catered for. The customer experience, and by extension brand loyalty, will be improved by building strong rapport with customers, having real conversations, listening to issues closely, and then following up with any required support.
Ensuring a brand’s marketing and communications efforts are representative of all customers is also critical, according to 82% of Americans and Brits we surveyed. To build an affinity with a brand, people want to see themselves reflected – in advertising, in marketing materials or in the causes that brands stand up and support.
From political stances to environmental efforts, it’s clear that today’s consumers want to know about the purpose and values of the brands they interact with. It’s not enough to just offer the right products or services. In fact, 67% of Americans and 78% of Brits believe brands should be taking a public stance on the big issues in society. Words aren’t enough either. A strong majority (68% US, 75% UK) believe it is important for brands to show how they are supporting causes that consumers care about, not just saying they are.
Putting it into practice
For today’s consumers, loyalty is something that brands need to work hard to build. Expectations around customer experience and personalization are high, and brands must do more than just offer the right product to keep customers coming back. But building loyalty is still possible: use data to offer the most relevant and useful content possible, deliver customer service that is genuinely supportive, and showcase the purpose that your brand stands for with credible action.