Let’s jump right in. Businesses that want to improve customer loyalty usually start too far downstream to build the plan. Customer data and feedback is forensically analysed for clues about why people leave. Marketing and customer service teams pour over journey maps. Loyalty programmes are put through the wringer. Frontline employees pitch in. What businesses often don’t do, but should, is first put themselves under the microscope and study their own DNA.
And, experience tells us that it’s only when companies focus on what’s happening on the inside: their leadership, culture and employees are they able to drive what happens on the outside – the way customers behave. It’s your organisational DNA and culture that has a major impact on customer stickiness.
In biology, our DNA is obviously what makes us unique. It doesn’t change. Every business also has a distinctive DNA expressed through its organisational culture and strategy. Some businesses are created with the loyalty gene. Most aren’t (more on this in a moment).
What do we mean by loyalty gene?
Think about the companies that are ranked top for customer loyalty. The top four for 2022 are Apple, Amazon, Domino’s and Disney, according to Brand Keys. There are major similarities in that their uniqueness is driven by the founder’s vision and values. They all have a relentless focus on customers.
Domino’s is an outlier in a sense. It wasn’t created with the loyalty gene in the same way that Apple and Amazon were. In businesses like Apple, all aspects of the organisation are aligned to deliver a differentiated, superior experience that fosters loyalty. Customers trust the brand enough to stick around even when a cheaper offer or better product comes along. Many businesses think they have strong loyalty but often it’s because they have the cheapest option, a product that can’t be bought elsewhere or a low margin product that customers buy frequently.
Okay, let’s get back to Domino’s. The pizza chain was in the doldrums 12 years ago. Although, it’s always been good at delivery, customers were switched off to the brand and its pizzas. Speed up the storybook over the past decade and Domino’s has recaptured the hearts of its customers to rightfully earn its place in the top four flight. How did it do this? By focussing on customers and making experience a core strategy. Learn more here.
Retooling your organisation
Chances are your business is not founder-led. You probably don’t have first mover advantage. The business probably wasn’t originally built with a customer focus. Your organisational culture and strategy might still be product and price led. Don’t be concerned. Like Domino’s and countless other brands that have realigned the business around their customers, you can still innovate and retool to offer a differentiated experience. An experience that creates a loyal base that is resistant to competitive pressures. Change on this scale will require a commitment from your people – at every level – to think and behave differently.
6 questions to get you started
Here are six questions to get you thinking about how the behaviour of your organisation needs to change to be able to change your customers’ behaviour. The place to start is with what you want to achieve. Everything flows from here.
1. What do want to achieve as a business?
What do you want to be known for? What are your strategic and financial goals?
2. How do you want your customers to behave to achieve your goals?
Do you want them to spend more, buy more products, recommend your business, write positive reviews, share your valuable content?
3. What experience do you need to provide to earn this behaviour?
What investments do you make to create a dramatically different experience to inspire loyal behaviour?
4. How do your people and your culture need to change?
How do you ensure your people are engaged, motivated and capable? How do you build a culture that supports the behavioural change? Who will lead?
5. Do your products and services add value?
How do your products and services make customers lives easier and solve their problems?
6. Are your enabling processes and technology simple and easy to use?
Customers know what technology can do for them. Do your digital products and services make their lives easier? Are any processes broken and outdated?
A final thought – your business probably wasn’t created with the loyalty gene but …
You don’t need to spend months and months retooling your business to start to see improvements in loyalty. Learn more by downloading our guide An Inconvenient Truth: Creating Loyal Customers Starts With You.