Is There A Formula For Loyalty? Isn't It Just About Caring?

Sometimes research can blow us away and sometimes it can tell us the seemingly obvious, but either way, it's always useful to have something left of field or an expected finding backed up by data. Today's research from by Rufus Leonard on the link between good customer service and loyalty seems fairly obvious -- but by adding a rating element, brands can see how they are doing against one another.

The interesting part of having a scoring systems is that you uncover the ingredients that go toward a brand providing a customer experience that is so good, it encourages loyalty. Or, more to the point, brands can see the areas they need to excel in to ensure repeat business.

Interestingly, Rufus Leonard's ingredients for a loyalty-engendering service are five elements I wouldn't have put together. According to its researchers, brands need to think, sense, feel, do and connect with customers to build a service around them that gets them coming back for more. They explain that this means a brand has to be able to think and sense so it can offer an emotional connection that immerses a customers in what they're providing.

It's good news for Singapore Airlines, which comes out in the top spot. Among the other top brands i can only say i have a regular experience of John Lewis, Sky, Eurostar, British Airways and Marks and Spencer, and so have mixed feelings toward this scoring system being used as a definitive guide. These brands fall in 7th to 11th place on the league table, and I'd say the first three show the rationale works, the latter two raise question marks. 

i find BA quite confusing for offering links to services that don't apply to the short-haul flights I'm booking, I recently spent ages trying to sort out meals on a flight that turned out to offer no choice of meals. This might have been worth pointing out next to the link which encouraged people to click to book a meal. Also, if M&S is getting it so right, why are its non-food sales so dismal? Why are they always in the news for profits dipping as experts and shoppers agree that it has lost its touch with fashion. That doesn't sound like loyalty to me. Mind you, the table does get some credibility back by having BT -- the poster child for awful service -- and RyanAir -- often seen as least caring of any brand -- right down at the bottom of its top 30.

So there probably is enough in the research for marketers to ask themselves whether their brands are able to think, sense, feel, do and connect. However, I would suggest it might be much simpler. If you're out to form an emotional connection with customers, surely it's a case of simply showing that you care. That probably includes all the elements of sensing what they want and providing it and communicating with them but it's a slightly simpler brand goal. The brands i favour are certainly those that show they care about quality, fair treatment of staff and supplier, reasonable prices and after sales. Showing people you care has to be the one-stop formula for loyalty success, doesn't it?

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