What Drives Customers Loyalty? (Hint: It’s Not Price)

What Drives Customers Loyalty? (Hint: It’s Not Price)

 The smallest gestures by frontline employees can have a significant impact on customer loyalty and the decision to buy again and again.

I was reminded of this when purchasing clothing at a department store recently. Upon bringing my items to the register, the kind woman asked questions about my day and overall shopping experience. I was surprised by our first interaction as warm greetings don’t happen frequently enough. 

Besides a pleasant dialogue when first meeting, my experience got even better. The lady scanned each item and noticed that none of the clothes were on sale. She asked me if I had any promotional offers but unfortunately, I did not. She proceeded to explain that customers who have their store credit card receive discounts, and offered me the option to sign up for immediate savings. I declined and was prepared to pay full price for the items.

At that moment, the woman reached into her drawer and took out a coupon to apply to my purchase. She saved me $25. Although it was not a significant amount of money, it was a highly satisfying moment. I did not expect her to provide me any discount especially since I declined the credit card offer.

I thanked the woman twice and told her how much I appreciated my purchase experience ALL BECAUSE OF HER. I continue to be a loyal customer and tell others to buy from the store because of one person who INTENTIONALLY went up and beyond for me.

Customer Loyalty Lessons:

  • Empower frontline employees. They impact customer experiences a lot! Support your staff to do what’s right for customers without having to ask management permission for every detail. Recognizing employees who create exceptional experiences is essential too. When employees are happy, customers see and feel it.  Here’s a perfect example to demonstrate my point.
  • Do the basics right. The mere act of employees saying “hello” and good-bye” is an easy way to delight customers and leave a lasting impression. I especially love when company owners / CEOs greet customers. (Read my Woodloch story).
  • Make it EASY to buy. “More than half (52%) of online buyers said they stopped shopping on a brand website due to bad site experiences.” (Merkle study). I highly recommend conducting user testing with real customers in the pre and post-launch stages, and measuring level of effort” as part of your CX practice. NPS is useful but even more so when combined with other metrics.
  • Focus on creating great experiences from onboarding to transaction completion. 66% of consumers care more about the experience than price when making a brand decision. And, they are looking for long-term, connected experiences that are as EFFICIENT as they are enjoyable.” 


Which brands excel at creating customer loyalty?

I’m interested in hearing examples of when a company employee went above and beyond to make your buying experience a memorable one. How did you feel?

Did you purchase again because of that experience, even when you could buy somewhere else for a better price?  

Want Happy Customers? Focus On Employees First

Want Happy Customers? Focus On Employees First

There’s a common phrase, “Happy Employees Bring Happy Customers.” It is so true! When people feel valued and enjoy their workplace, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to delighting customers and maximizing their satisfaction and loyalty.

So, how does a company apply this principle to achieve business growth? The following are 5 effective ways that apply to all industries:

Build A Culture Focussed On Creating Happy Customers

A centralized customer experience organization is able to monitor the quality of the experiences they deliver.

This kind of organizational setup enables teams to take action on Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback, including structured data (i.e. surveys) and unstructured sources (i.e. social media). It helps ensure there are clear actions and ownership in the company, plus a champion of customer-first culture at the top.

Empower Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is essential to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Collecting customer feedback is great. However, this is a wasted effort if employees don’t execute on improvement plans.

Employees have a direct impact on customer experiences. In an environment with low employee engagement, success metrics like NPS scores inevitably decline. If you think about the most successful brands, they trust their employees and routinely measure their level of job happiness.

Again, if you want to delight customers, make sure employee satisfaction is included in the overall strategy.

Train Employees To Retain Happy Customers

Every level of the organization must be educated about the importance of customer experience and how they can make a difference! This includes front line employees, managers, and executives.

Furthermore, every employee must be held accountable for delivering customer excellence. To promote accountability, I highly recommend including CX metrics in everyone’s annual objectives. Include the ability to get bonuses when employees achieve goals, similar to other key performance indicators (KPIs). I have tested this theory throughout my career and can unequivocally say that, when CX is a shared goal among all employees (not just a few) business results are significantly better.

Humanize Experiences

Emphasize the importance of humanizing customer experiences throughout your organization. This starts with meeting customer needs without over-complicating processes.

Often, small things mean the most. For instance, using simple “please” and “thank you” statements help make customers feel like they matter. It is actually the secret to Chick-fil-A’s success. Also, “eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.”

When customers feel appreciated, they are more satisfied. And they are more likely to recommend brands to others. The concept is obvious. Yet, it’s surprising how often employees forget the human element when they interact with customers.

Leverage Technology The Right Way

Many companies use tools and platforms to fully understand what customers are saying across channels and touchpoints. However, they don’t always incorporate the Voice of Employee (VOE), which is a key element in building a successful customer-centric program.

Employees need to know their opinions count. When that happens, they become better performers who are more motivated to serve customers, fix their issues (“Close The Loop”), and do the right thing even when their boss isn’t looking.

If you want to drive accountability and a CX culture, focus first on employees. Then look at technology. Not the other way around.