Brand Loyalty: Why Retailers Have the Advantage in Consumer Appeal
I’d be interested to know how much time the CEOs of today’s most successful commercial enterprises spend thinking about the typical consumer’s attitude. I wonder how often they ask themselves, “Are we doing what’s best for the customer?” and “Are we fostering brand loyalty?”
Of course, the simple answer is most likely yes. Businesses that are perpetually in the public eye wouldn’t be worth a wooden nickel if they didn’t meticulously address such concerns. I’m only speculating in light of a recent study by a reputable consulting firm in which thousands of adult consumers were surveyed about their feelings toward 143 well-known companies.
The results of the survey? Well, let’s just say that certain ISPs, cable television providers, and health care insurers ranked lowest in customer appeal. On the other hand, retailers fared surprisingly well.
Here’s a list of the top ten brands that consumers are currently most loyal to:
4. Sam’s Club
6. USAA (insurer)
7. BJ’s Wholesale Club
A happy customer is a loyal customer.
Actually, now that I see them all in list form, maybe it’s not all that surprising for these retailers to be so highly regarded. People love to nitpick at a number of the companies listed, but when it comes down to brass tacks (or in this case, the customer’s experience with the brand), it’s all about whether or not businesses can make good on their promise to deliver. The exact product or service offered is almost irrelevant, so long as the consumer ends up satisfied. These brands are power-players because they’ve demonstrated their ability not only to deliver, but to do so with flying colors.
Seeing as how it’s virtually impossible to locate positive testimonials for either cable TV or internet service providers, it’s not exactly groundbreaking news that they rank low in customer loyalty. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that being contracted to such providers means foregoing much of what you’d expect in terms of timely and considerate service. To be fair, those companies aren’t necessarily obligated to do anything more than the bare minimum, but for many, that’s just not a good enough excuse.
Customer service should come with a smile--and an airplane.
According to the study, one of the managing partners of the firm that conducted the survey put it like this:
Executives don’t quite understand. Many…think of customer experience management as the icing on the cake of their business; believing they can slap on some good experience and everything will get better. But customer experience improvement requires broad cultural and operational changes as part of a multi-year journey.
In short, it takes a boatload of effort—something that even the smallest or most mediocre retail chain would likely know a thing or two about. Limited resources, budgetary constraints, and an oversized customer base are only acceptable excuses for so long. Eventually, subpar service is going to drive patrons elsewhere, and then the party’s over. For retailers, the incentive is always there to strive for better service, and that’s obviously a good thing.
Do you agree with this list? Which retailers or providers would you put at the top?