How do companies build brand loyalty?

Growing and maintaining long-term client relationships goes beyond good customer service. Especially in the technology industry.

It is often said that if you truly care about your clients, they will care about you. It is important that client relationships are nurtured and clients receive the best care at every point of sale, including during and after the sales process.

Clients tend to do business with people who care about them and go the extra mile. That type of treatment makes them feel important, and they come to rely on businesses they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.

On the other hand, businesses need to understand how customers feel about their institutions, why customers select and defect from institutions, reasons for customer churn and customers’ preferred communication channels.

Data uncovered

In July and August 2015, Verint Systems Inc, a global leader in Actionable Intelligence solutions for customer engagement optimisation, conducted interviews amongst 18 000 consumers in Germany, France, Netherlands, Poland, UK, South Africa, U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The research highlighted the importance of quick, easy and personalised service in securing customer loyalty. It uncovered deep divisions over attitudes to how personal data is used to deliver this service.

Focusing on the new rules of customer service, the research emphasises the need to make life easier for customers in order to build loyalty.

Let us look at the data uncovered in South Africa based on South African consumer responses.

Brand loyalty and service

The research finds that while just about all respondents (94%) in South Africa agreed that good service makes them feel more positive about brands, two thirds (59%) also said they are suspicious about how their data is used. Furthermore, 54% of South African consumers felt that customer service was more of a transactional relationship than personal and 46% think that customer service is an experience that should reflect them as a person. They were less concerned about companies knowing their mood and responding accordingly (15%), and more concerned about getting their questions answered (85%). A significant number (59%) said mistakes make them think about switching.

South African consumers prefer companies that can deal with their requests quickly (55%) with the person they spoke to being able to make decisions without their manager (42%). The respondents describe themselves as most loyal when they love a company’s products (29%) or because the company understands their needs as an individual (27%).

This study also explored the impact of poor service on switching behaviour, as well as the benefits brands can reap if they get it right. Though cheaper pricing is the single biggest motivation for switching (24%), rude staff (18%) and too much effort to get what they need (13%) are second and third on the list. The research also found that good experiences can have a powerful impact on customers’ attitudes to brands. In fact, 79% of respondents said they would tell friends and family about their experiences, while half (49%) would write positive reviews. Also, 46% will renew or upgrade products and services even if it wasn’t the cheapest option.

It’s all about the attitude

In building solid customer relationships it is important to understand what consumers want and expect. While this research focuses mainly on aggregate results, it contains some useful information about variances in behaviours and attitudes among consumers.

In today’s more demanding and customer centric world, revamping customer service is essential to maintaining long lasting client relationships. The key is to balance the customised and impersonal service that is delivered. Clients want their lives made easier. When they present a problem you need to have a solution and fix it. This is the basic and most common need.

Looking at this, it is essential that frontline staff are trained and have all the information at hand readily available to help clients and to ensure a positive experience by going the extra mile when they are required to do so.
Off the research, it is clear that customers just want solutions and questions answered. Some clients think that when requests are dealt with quicker it makes for a positive experience.

On the other hand, customers can be driven away by cheaper prices, rude staff and too many mistakes.

Understanding your client

Customer service is among the top factors for switching institutions, even for younger and more tech-savvy customers.

Accordingly, institutions should use their existing branch networks to their advantage to provide the customer service customers want and expect. They should strive to differentiate themselves from the competition by providing customers with what is most meaningful and important to them, whether it is rewards, technology or exemplary customer service.

Another fundamental step to gaining a client’s respect and trust is to understand their past and present experiences, goals and concerns. This will give you a clearer picture of what is important to them regarding their personal and financial future. By doing this, clients feel you care for them and have their best interests at heart.

It is important that advisers offer this type of treatment at all points of the transaction, in order to build long-term relationships. Strong relationships lead to loyalty, and loyal customers are more likely to use additional products and services and to refer new customers.

Going the extra mile

The research indicates the importance of meeting complex customer expectations head on by arming your organisation with the right information and tools to provide the speedy service that your customers demand, empowering and educating your employees to make the best use of the available resources and information, getting personal and going the extra mile where appropriate and relevant, giving your customers the option to engage with you whenever and however they want and earning their trust by being transparent and open about the security and use of their data.

It is suggested that by going the extra mile 79% of clients would tell friends and family about their experience, 49% would write a positive review and 46% of customers would renew or upgrade products or services even if it was not the cheapest option.