Goodbye Good Will: Consumers Who Love The Brand May Be More Loyal, But Don't Push Them

Logic suggests that loyalty members with an emotional link to a brand are more likely to forgive an occasional service lapse.

And many will -- but don’t think you can get away with providing a sub-par experience: such consumers are 12% to 16% more likely to feel frustration than those without such an emotional connection, according to research conducted by Kobie Marketing.  

“You’re more likely not to be as affected if a total stranger does you wrong than if your spouse does you wrong,” say JR Slubowski, assistant vice president of strategic consulting for Kobie Marketing. Some of those more emotionally bonded customers said “it would take a lot to get them to forgive when it came to a service failure or a poor experience.” 

The answer? To drop generic approaches to service failure and adopt more nuanced and personalized ones. (Yes, and email teams should take more tailored approaches instead of only pushing discounts out to people). 



Slubowski was speaking in a Wise Marketer webinar conducted by loyalty veteran Bill Hanifin. He provided a taste of what Kobie found in a post-pandemic survey of 13,000 consumers that has not been released in a full report.  

The main takeaway seems to be that the good experiences enjoyed by consumers are “really your loyalty currency,” Slubowski says.

The study found that “non-emotionally connected customers wanted rewards for everything -- for every interaction they had, every action they took,” Slubowski adds. Companies whose loyalty memberships live and die by every single transaction may be in a precarious spot. 

 “You want to get to a more holistic place with a more emotionally connected customers because those connections tend to maintain and are easier to sustain in long term,” he adds, 

In addition, the concept of value has changed as a result of what Slubowski calls “the rise of me, the fall of we.’ Benefits that felt communal like charitable donations and being able to share rewards have migrated to the bottom of the pile.”

“While those benefits are never number 1, they’re usually middle of the pack. But not now -- they’re all down at the bottom of the pile. What that signals is that consumers are likely experiencing message fatigue, the 'we’re in this together messaging.’ They’re either growing numb to this, or went into survival mode.” 

Also explored in the study was how to drive advocacy. Slubowski observed that people tend to refer someone who looks like them. But there is a “segment in excess of 40% that could become advocates for you if your pivot your strategy slightly.” 

Typically, brands look at the upper right quadrant: the high spenders, who have a higher intent to advocate (or so it is thought). 

But you can also gain advocates by going down to the lower right quadrant — people who show high intent to advocate but are low spenders.”We dubbed them the missionaries,” Slubowski said. “They can still be focused on as far as advocacy goes.”

Then there are the curmudgeons who do not have a high propensity for advocating. These folks, too, can be turned into advocates if you expand the products and the experience, then “nudge them to make referral or advocate for the brand.”

Finally, there “the disengaged—the lower left quadrant, a fourth of the population.” 

Summing up, Slubowski argues, “we have more advocates than we think.”

(The webinar can be accessed here).  


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