In this highly-connected age of information and interactions, when customers “cheat” on brands more than ever, customer loyalty is hard to achieve. Customers can effortlessly find out just how many options they have for any product or service, and easily compare the benefits or downsides of those options. Nearly every brand, service, or store under the sun has an online review page where potential customers can read about others’ experiences and determine whether a particular brand deserves their business. In this article, we’ll explore why customers choose one brand over another, and how you can make your own brand stand out.
The main reason (other than price) that customers may choose your competition over you is that they have better experiences with those brands. When the competition is stiff, companies often try to distinguish themselves with excellent customer service and discounts. While these tactics don’t necessarily hurt your chances of winning over customers, they’re not the best ways of attracting long-lasting loyalty. The solution is something much simpler: make it easier for customers.
Convenience Improves Customers’ Experience with Your Brand
A Harvard Business Review article examined ideas about customer loyalty. Their survey research indicated that “delighting” customers with outstanding customer service didn’t build customer loyalty, but reducing their efforts did. In other words, addressing customers’ issues quickly and making their experiences easier is the best way to assure they remain loyal to your brand. Harvard Business Review recommended these strategies for making things easier for customers:
- removing obstacles
- anticipating future issues
- addressing the emotional side of customer interactions
Technology plays a large role in addressing these three concerns, making customer interaction quicker and easier. Today’s customers—especially channel partners like distributors and contractors—are incredibly busy. If your company can’t adapt to the speedy response time and readily-available information they need, they will find a company who can. By using online customer loyalty programs, technology provided by companies like Incentive Solutions, you can save your customers’ time and nail each of the convenience strategies listed above.
Ways Technology Can Make Your Brand Experience More Convenient
- Removing Obstacles Like Time and Distance Workplace mobile apps remove obstacles like distance and time constraints. Distributors and contractors are particularly busy people—contractors are often out working on job sites and picking up supplies, while distributors spend a lot of time checking up on orders, inspecting products, and making decisions about which brands to stock. Reward program technology makes their daily tasks easier by delivering instant push notifications about products, which keeps them up to date and ahead of their competitors knowledge-wise. With mobile technology, program participants can also immediately send sales claims and warranty registrations, right from the field.
- Communicating with Customers to Keep Up with Their Interests and Issues The more methods customers have of contacting you, the more likely they will feel that your brand offers a convenient experience. The typical sales channel partner is very busy and often juggling many responsibilities. A contractor who has to supervise at a job site, meet with customers, pick up supplies, and take his kids to baseball practice may not have time to call you about an issue during normal, 8-5 business hours. Use a multi-channel communication strategy to stay in contact with customers. Don’t neglect marketing to them; touch base at least once a month to update them on your products, promotions, and exciting new things you’re doing. Fast, reliable communication with customers is a great way to gauge their needs, interests, and anticipate future issues.
- Addressing the Emotional Side with Online Rewards Receiving points and rewards online can make tedious or time-consuming tasks more fun for your customers, and fun equals convenience. When they’re part of an online rewards program, your customers receive rewards for interaction with your brand. For instance, they can receive points for inputting sales claims or promoting your products—things they might otherwise consider inconvenient wastes of time. They can then redeem these points in an online reward catalog set-up similarly to Amazon or Overstock. Customers associate your brand with fun new items and experiences, which makes it not only a convenient experience for them, but a rewarding one. In this way, you can get in touch with the emotional side of customer interaction.
When all is said and done, customers value great customer service and competitive prices—but what really wins them over is convenience. People today are continuously juggling time-consuming tasks. The more you can reduce their efforts, the more likely they are to remain loyal to your brand.