Brands delivering high quality products (a product that does exactly what the company promises it will do) know that this is no longer enough to satisfy a customer and maintain a loyal consumer base. Why?
The fact is that in the changing competitive landscape, with new businesses emerging as quickly as “old” businesses go out of glory, leaps and bounds made almost daily in technology across nearly every sector, and a pervading culture of instant gratification, it’s simply not enough anymore for a company to provide a “good” product—the customer must also believe they’re getting a good product. So it’s not enough that you provide a great product, on time, consistently, at a great price—the customer has to also understand the value of what you’re doing and what they’re getting.
There have been papers written and research conducted ad nauseum on the topic of customer perceptions and customer buying behaviour, by everyone from giant corporations and SMEs alike looking to grow their market, but the numbers don’t lie. Sales don’t necessarily equal satisfaction or loyalty. Neither does a strong brand name. Neither does price, or referral, or customer engagement. So what does?
The jury remains out, with the overwhelming consensus being that loyalty and satisfaction is a byproduct of several of the aforementioned factors applied in a dynamic equation that must be constantly monitored, altered, and adjusted. If it feels like consumer loyalty and repeat business is a moving target, it’s because it is.
There are however, surefire ways to ensure that customer expectations are met and managed to ensure that customers do indeed feel “satisfied”. While customer satisfaction and loyalty isn’t a science, there are definitive strategies that can be implemented in every brand’s awareness efforts to try and “hook the fish”.
1) Teach customers about the BENEFITS not the attributes of your product.
2) Translate customer expectations into both hard (objective) and soft (subjective) standards. You have to understand not only quantitative targets but also the qualitative, descriptive, elements of your customer’s brand experience. For example, how many times a month do they buy orange juice and WHY do they purchase a certain type/brand/size?
3) Ensure people inside your company are living the brand. How can you sell a product you don’t believe it?
4) Know when you have failed…and why. Vow to never make the same mistake again.
5) Create customer brand ambassadors- groom your customers into spokespeople for your brand, referring your products and services to everyone they know. No amount of your advertising dollars will ever trump the good word of a friend telling you about a great new product, or conversely, a horrible experience they’ve had.