BPA Featured Article

Building Customer Loyalty: Not as Easy as it Seems

By Ben Linton, Contributing Writer
July 16, 2014

Customer loyalty is becoming increasingly difficult to keep for a number of brands in the United States. While it's easy to deliver a single pleasant experience, maintaining a consistently satisfying relationship with customers is no simple task.

According to the 2012 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census, the average number of loyalty program memberships per household in the United States was 21.9. From 2010 to 2012, loyalty program memberships grew to 26.7 percent in the United States. However, only 9.5 percent of these memberships are still active and have been steadily decreasing since 2010. Even though there were a total of 2.65 billion loyalty programs in the United States in 2012, this doesn't necessarily guarantee that customers will exhibit loyalty towards specific brands.

Today's customer has demands that need to be met by brands in order to establish trust and loyalty. Customers expect businesses to deliver a satisfying experience over multiple channels including phone, web, chat and social media. According to Forrester (News - Alert) Research's Customer Experience Survey, 67 percent of over 7,500 U.S. Customers proclaim that they've had multiple unsatisfactory service interactions over the past 12 months. Another similar Customer Service Survey from Parature (News - Alert) revealed that customers experience the most frustration when having to contact a company numerous times for the same issue and being passed on from channel to channel in order to complete an interaction.

It's generally understood that customers expect a quick response from customer service agents and strongly dislike being placed on hold for an extended period of time. Agents that are unresponsive, uninformed and insensitive cause customers incredible frustration, leading them to lose trust in the brand and switch to its competitors. According to the previously mentioned Parature survey, 65 percent of customer's have stopped using a brand's products or services because of a single poor customer service experience. This makes building customer loyalty extremely difficult, because brands not only have to provide consistently helpful service but must also avoid an isolated incident that could lose the customer forever.

In Forrester analyst Kate Leggett's Future of Customer Service report, she explains that quality customer service should be productive, personalized and as painless as possible. In order for this to be accomplished on a consistent basis, businesses must deliver consistent information to agents and customers across all communication channels. They must also use customer feedback data to predict customer needs and improve customer service experience in the future. Unfortunately, Forrester reports that 58% of companies currently fail to measure up to their customer's expectations. 

In the current age of the customer, loyalty is not something that is simply earned by purchasing a membership card. The changes in digital communications, mobility and innovation are having a profound impact on customer expectations. Business and technology management professionals responsible for customer service are struggling to understand these expectations and deploying new supporting technologies and leading the organizational changes required to adapt to this new customer environment.

Brand loyalty is established by delivering consistently efficient customer service and maintaining these conditions during the entire relationship with the customer. Businesses have a glaring deficiency in this area and a grand opportunity to pave the way to a more successful customer service experience. 

Edited by Alisen Downey