I read a news item on TechRadar recently titled ‘customer loyalty is changing and your marketing plan should be too’ and I was interested in the idea that customer service commentators are now explicitly defining ‘customer loyalty’ and linking this to marketing and key messages.
This idea is not new and I have echoed similar sentiments on this blog before, but it’s my belief that there are still not enough people from the customer service industry reminding business leaders across all sectors how far-reaching this evolution in customer behaviour and the nature of what is defined as ‘loyalty’ are going to be.
Because it’s not just that customer service has changed. Anyone can see that. The introduction of social media and the explosion of new channels over the past few years has changed the way that customers communicate with brands, but customer service has never been the only place that brands interacted with their existing and potential customers.
Teams such as marketing, advertising, and public relations have always planned how messages should be communicated from a brand to customers, but the way customers behave and interact with service channels has changed. While these functions of business remain largely concerned with one-way dialogue and annual awards for creativity, customers expect two-way communications that test the credibility of the marketing message, product claim or service guarantee, and therefore in so doing, their ‘loyalty’ antennae is already tingling.
Moreover and as an extension of this customer behaviour, far more pre-purchase research is now undertaken. There is an ongoing debate about products with reviews posted by customers, and forums allow questions to be asked and to turn into ongoing debates.
All this information, often created by customers, has become an extension to the ‘official’ marketing plan for any company today, yet if the company does not create and control this material then how can it ensure the information is correct? Through improved direct engagement and debate.
Customers need to know that companies will interact and engage before, during, and after purchases. And every channel from voice to chat to social media needs to be integrated referencing one version of the truth. This engagement can ensure that online information is fair and correct and interacting in this way will stimulate more customer loyalty than any loyalty points offers ever could.
I wonder have you any examples of how your own customer behaviour and interaction with a customer service team is changing? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.
Photo by Amad Nawawi licensed under Creative Commons