thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer


By on October 21, 2009

It's been argued that customers today are less loyal than ever before. They expect more for their loyalty and tell fewer people about your company's good performances. If that is true, however, then why are there organizations with customers that are "off the charts" in their loyalty?

Consider one restaurant chain's loyal following, which Stacy Perman describes in her recent book, In-N-Out Burger. This restaurant has ardent fans who are beyond loyal and it has established a market position that is hard to ignore. It offers a secret menu that regular members know about and its T-shirts are the epitome of cool. Words that Perman uses to describe the restaurant chain: phenomenon; mystique; allure; and packed with customers "making pilgrimages to what was considered the quintessential Southern California attraction." It all translates into a brand that means originality.

One of the key traits of hyper-loyal customers is their passion for converting others to become members of their "club" so that they can have the same great experiences. "Its loyal fan base…often did the heavy lifting, frequently boasting about their zealous affection for the chain to everybody else," Perman writes. "The chain's regulars assumed the responsibility of bringing in a constant stream of new devotees, an act generally referred to as 'the conversion.' It had the feel of bestowing membership into a club that seemed at once exclusive and egalitarian." One In-N-Out Burger customer said, "I feel it's akin to my civic duty."

Traditional companies are grounded in a quid pro quo mentality. Whatever they sell they get paid in return. Customer-centered companies, however, know there is much more that they can do for their customers. If they are passionate about thinking like a customer, that's where conversion comes in.

I ask companies in my workshops: Can you expect customer loyalty if you are the same as your competition? The answer is obvious, but it creates discussion about the practices of companies that almost never lose a customer. The "secrets" go much deeper than customer satisfaction and willingness for customers to repurchase from their companies.

Success means winning the hearts and minds of the market. If truly done right, it creates contagion. People will have an unconditional love for your services because they trust that you are always designing new solutions for them. Hyper-loyalty is the perfect destination for reframing the customer-centered efforts in your organization.

Customer-centricity creates originality for your company. It means being loyal to your customers. In turn, they will be loyal to you. It's very much a symbiotic relationship, based on persuasion--that your company is a great fit with your customers.

So, are customers less loyal or have you lost your edge? What have you done lately to convert customers to higher levels of loyalty?

Customers are only less loyal if you have lost touch with them--if you have focused on aspects that don't matter to them. The antidote, of course, is that you must establish your connection in their belief systems even more deeply. Being customer-centered means moving your culture to a whole new level--where people not only buy from you, but love you and want you to continue to get better. They want to be around you because they know you are the best and will keep getting better. They're hyper-loyal.


2 Responses to “Hyper-Loyalty”

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ResearchRocks: Customer loyalty: "Customer-centricity...means being loyal to your customers. In turn, they will be loyal to you."

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