Loyalty is Dead

by Jeannie Walters

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Is there such a thing as brand loyalty? I argue the answer is no.

Before you start quoting Steve Jobs and proclaiming your allegiance to the almighty Apple, please consider this:

The fans of Netflix were die-hard, too. Then they left-quickly and en masse. Yes, the fourth quarter showed some recovery, but it’s better to not have to recover in the first place.Netflix envelopes

Commercials claim generation after generation has banked at Bank of America, so why wouldn’t we? (Thanks to the #occupy movement, people are leaving the big banks, too!)

Specific, smaller communities like Foursquare and Path are staking a claim among the Facebook masses.

Customers are reevaluating not just your product, but the entire experience more frequently than ever before. We are kicking the tires and walking up to the shiny car in the lot to kick its tires, too.

Customers, for a long time, were trapped. The pain of switching kept many of us stuck in limbo – not really liking our experience but not really feeling enough pain to deal with it, either. Now, the barriers are breaking down, and typically a 5-minute sign-up is all it takes to become a new customer elsewhere.

I’ve found, with most companies, it is too difficult to keep evaluating what’s out there. Startups are the ones who do this best. They explore the marketplace, find a need, and exploit the missing piece for customers. (Ironically, Netflix is a great example of this, too.)

Companies, however, get fat and happy and ignore the truth. Your product isn’t really cutting-edge anymore. Your experience is lackluster to say the least. But, you still have plenty of customers, right? So how should you prioritize this?

As Customer Experience Investigator(tm), I’ve heard all the reasons why constant (and honest) evaluation gets tabled. I get it. You are busy. Your job is demanding. Your boss is breathing down your neck for that report that requires 3 calls to Hong Kong and 4 updates to an outdated Excel spreadsheet. Who has time to explore what else is going on?

The smart companies, the ones who continue to wow their customers past that honeymoon start-up phase, are the ones who prioritize the evaluation. You have to not only keep evaluating your experience, but you have to keep an eye on your competition, as well as what customers are expecting.

Remember stories of the Pony Express? They were hailed as heroes (rightfully) because they delivered mail. Now, the USPS is advertising paper bills to try to attract more customers. Our expectations have changed. It happens.

Stay ahead by remaining curious, paranoid and forever investigative. The absence of constant evaluation leads to stifling innovation. It’s the nail in the coffin, I’m afraid.

Photo credit: alforque 

 

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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