While this success or loyalty question is ultimately a chicken or egg situation, I would argue that success actually comes first. As a consumer, I must have a successful experience with a retailer or brand before I become loyal to them. This feeling of allegiance toward a particular brand is initiated by an interaction – and only positive ones will generate the goodwill and repeat business that transform into loyalty.
This loyalty, created by those successful experiences and interactions, then fuels and enhances success, bringing the process full circle.
Consumer satisfaction that leads to customer loyalty
So the question now becomes, how can you ensure that consumers will have successful experiences that, in turn, lead to loyalty? The answer: people, process and technology. Great people create the right process around the right technology.
Yet many brands still struggle with making this a reality. One of the biggest issues is the long-existing internal silos within the corporate structure that no longer reflects how customers are consuming. Only through eliminating these outdated barriers – creating the right process by uniting people across functional teams and leveraging the right technology – can brands create a unified marketing and e-commerce strategy to deliver the best experiences for consumers in today’s omni-channel world.
It was not too long ago when the online channel first changed conventional retail. By providing a convenience that was not available before, brands were able to change consumer behavior, with shoppers increasingly embracing this new, easy and effective way of buying products. The successful experiences led consumers to give these brands their loyalty, which in turn led brands to continuously innovate new ways to improve the online customer experience.
Consistent experience across all touchpoints
Take Amazon – the e-commerce behemoth has been wildly successful in delivering a consistently positive experience to consumers, which has in turn fueled loyalty. Ask any Amazon shopper why they continually make purchases from the online retailer and they’ll most likely say that it’s easier. While there’s much going on behind the scenes to make the site able to deliver on its speedy shipping promise and reliable deliveries, it’s completely frictionless for the consumer. Clearly, Amazon has brought together the right people who have rethought standard procedures, creating new – but highly effective – processes (like storing dissimilar items together in warehouses to maximize space) that are made possible by the technology of which Amazon takes advantage.
Another example is Apple: Apple brilliantly applied its legendary simplified user experience to completely change the in-store shopping experience. The Apple store defies all of the long-established rules. For instance, Apple eliminated all visual barriers – there are no aisles and tables are low so customers walking into the store can see everything. Every employee is essentially a POS. While invisible to us, there is order in the chaos – just like with online shopping. This completely new, fresh approach to the storefront has enabled Apple to deliver an incredible experience to consumers, which in turn reinforces loyalty to the brand.
The bar has been set high by these and a handful of other forward-looking brands but anyone else can experience the same success – and resulting loyalty – if they focus on creating a predictable and pleasing experience for consumers that will keep them coming back for more. The key is combining the right people, processes and technology to make it easy for consumers to give you their loyalty.