Commentary

Brand Loyalty Created From Customer Experiences

The holidays bring a slew of enticing benefits tied to customer experience, but no matter how engaging the search, the social or the display campaigns, for me customer service provides the number one draw to online and brick-and-mortar stores. Service builds an emotional tie between the brand and consumer.

I've lost patience with many retailers that are not willing to provide that extra oomph, so I give my hard-earned dollars to those willing to do a little extra. Sometimes it just means hiring the correct sales folks like Nordstrom and Anthropologie to help, and other times it means adding free-expedited shipping on every order like Neimen Marcus -- no matter what the amount of the purchase.

Online retailer Amazon built a leading brand by focusing on customer service. The company provides a consistent experience, which makes consumers trust that when they come back the will get the same experience repeatedly, according to Forrester Research analyst Tracy Stokes. She said it will become more important for big-box retailers to establish a strong brand built on customer service.

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A report released Wednesday analyzes Forrester's new Consumer Technographics TRUE brand compass data to determine the major retail brands and their ecommerce counterparts are positioned to excel in the battle for consumer mindshare.

Providing insight into consumer attitudes about brands, Forrester identified three success metrics for securing the relationship:  Preference, Referral, and Willingness to Pay More. As a consumer, I can vouch for each of these metrics. Becoming trustworthy and essential are two key factors. Consumers who trust a brand will recommend it to friends and family. They are typically willing to pay more for the products and services. And they prefer the brand compared with others they may like.

In the report, Stokes explains how trusted brands create an emotional connection with consumers, while "remarkable" brands capture consumer attention, "unmistakable" brands develop a unique experience, and "essential" brands get integrated into consumer lives.

Aside from Amazon, Stokes calls out Lowe's and Home Depot as trusted brand leaders. Target, Best Buy Costco and eBay are followers, but sit on the cusp of becoming leaders.

The North American Technographics TRUE Brand Compass Survey, Q2 2013, conducted online, was fielded in May 2013 among 4,575 U.S. adults ages 18 to 88.

As we enter the holiday buying season, which stores and brands do you think provide excellent customer service?

"Shopping" photo from Shutterstock.

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