In the marketing world, the “corner store” is often referred to with nostalgia as the pinnacle of loyalty. Think back to 1957: Then Leave It to Beaver made its television debut, Elvis Presley bought Graceland – and then most people bought it at stores or nearby stores. It was true that shopping options at the time were more limited and these stores had everything we needed, but we knew the family that owned the corner store, or we made friends with the manager and built a relationship. At that time, the customer-company relationship was king: we dared not shop anywhere else.
Sixty years later, a lot has changed. Of course, Leave It to Beaver can still be seen and Graceland remains Memphis’ top tourist attraction. But the convenience store or department store — and Norman Rockwell’s vision of loyalty — is dead.
Reimagine your category—by putting customers in the driver’s seat
No matter what industry you are in, it has been completely and permanently changed by technology over the past 60 years. And while technological innovation often hurts loyalty—the easier it is to acquire customers, the easier it is to lose them—some of the most notorious business successes of the past decade have placed customers at the center of their universe.
Make it easy for a customer to leave you—and even easier to stay
If there’s one thing customers don’t miss, it’s options. But companies cannot earn loyalty by making it difficult for customers to switch. For example, arresting people with tiny fingerprints and absurd contracts will only damage your customer relationships in the long run.
It sounds like heresy – discussing how a customer can leave you – but this is the opposite of the customer retention problem. Companies like Amazon and Apple have found: Offering more personalization that helps customers become a greater part of your brand but in a less transactional way.
Make sure the right-hand knows what the left is up to
Almost everyone agrees that the future is in the data. By some estimates, the big data analytics market will soon reach $200 billion in global revenue – with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 12%. But to use this data effectively, companies need to break free from the silos that throw away critical knowledge. Think about it: Why, while you’re complaining about one thing to customer service, why is the company’s marketing team trying to sell you another new service, just like when everything was fine?
As long as you don’t tear down your company’s inner walls, the outer wall stays with the customers.
If someone said five years ago, “I want to link transaction and behavior data to attitude data and try to collect a 360-degree view of the customer, people would say, ‘Great idea, but impossible.’ Today, they would say: “It’s very difficult. With each passing year, it becomes less difficult to deliver on the promise of a data-driven loyalty revolution. But to get there, we need to continually interact with customers and build a lasting system to build a long-term relationship with them.