Customer relationship – what’s love got to do with it?
Customer affection is often confused with customer satisfaction. However, customer satisfaction KPIs do not reveal anything about the emotional bond or relationship a customer has with a brand.
In an increasingly service-oriented economy, overall customer satisfaction is rarely a competitive advantage. Consumers expect a high service quality which has become a standard across industries. A lot of money is invested in improving customer satisfaction at each step of the customer journey. No doubt that steadily improving the journey is important. But it is far from being certain that a satisfied customer will buy from you again in the future, meaning customer satisfaction does not necessarily lead to customer retention.
The most effective way to create lasting customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and to connect with customers at an emotional level. The emotions of consumers play a critical role in determining which brands they are loyal to, which ones they truly love. Various studies have shown that emotional connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. Ok, but what’s love got to do with it?
In his triangular theory of love, psychologist Robert Sternberg describes the three fundamental components of love as intimacy, passion and commitment. Translated into a marketing context those components can serve as a guideline for companies to establish an emotional relationship with its customers.
INTIMACY – Get close to your customers. Strive to get a deep understanding and anticipation of their needs to build trust and establish familiarity – with your products/services as well as with your brand. Make decisions based on customer insights and create an aspirational yet authentic brand image that resonates deeply with your target audience. Without authenticity, your brand won’t be trusted and many customer relations will probably remain a brief romance.
PASSION – Be passionate about your customers and what you are offering to them. High quality service is as important as offering a clear value. Take the customer perspective in everything you do in order to create an emotional bond. One of a kind experiences, which are a critically important driver of an emotional connection, will make your customers feel special, valued, and appreciated.
COMMITMENT – Stick to the customers’ perspective. A relationship needs to be constantly refreshed. Try to implement customer centricity into your company culture as well as organisational structure to ensure sustainable customer value. This clearly is a long-term effort, not one driven by short term ROI targets. You may start with integrating customer-centric approaches into existing programs and implementations.
Enhance your customer value with customer centricity and write your own customer love story. Not only on Valentine’s Day.