Simply satisfying customers doesn’t cut it anymore in the loyalty stakes. Consumers are mired in adequate experiences from brands jostling to stand out. Yes, they’re satisfied. But brands need to do way more than rely on high levels of customer satisfaction to create fans who rave and refer. The extra mile to win over hearts and minds has become two … three … even.

Customer satisfaction used to be the gold standard for measuring the ROI on CX efforts. People used to be perfectly happy with satisfied. But everything’s changed. Customers have become cynical. “If you want me to come back, spend more, tell my friends about you then do a lot more than just the basics to keep me happy. Wow me”, they say.

By their own admission, brands recognise a shift in how they even get to satisfied. Research by Forrester and Accenture Interactive found that 87%.of businesses believe that traditional experiences are no longer enough to satisfy customers. As the report points out ‘customers are placing increasing value on hyper-relevant, mindset-aware experiences that visibly add value to their lives’. Even so, not all brands recognise what it takes to drive loyalty. Most management teams are still huddled around the monthly CSAT results making a fundamental error.

Busting the CSAT myth

We need to bust the CSAT myth here. Businesses still conflate satisfaction with a strong customer relationship. But, how do they know? These types of surveys don’t delve into customer intent or provide insights into the quality (stickiness) of the relationship. In truth, CSAT surveys just capture a transitory moment.

Satisfaction is subjective. Being satisfied means different things to people scoring different types of experiences and interactions. For example, anything longer than a second or two listening to muzak while on hold can relegate an agent’s efficient first time resolution to a 2.

Strong CSAT scores don’t necessarily create fans that want to rave and stay.

Why customer satisfaction is not enough

Nothing better illustrates the reasons why satisfaction is not enough than the landmark research by Heskett in 1994 that shows the relationship between loyalty and satisfaction.

The Heskett curveMost significantly, the study shows that there is no straight-line relationship between loyalty and satisfaction. In competitive industries roughly 25% of customers will remain loyal to a brand when satisfied.  To achieve 70-80% customer retention, organisations need to ensure that their customers are very satisfied. In our intensely competitive world, “I am satisfied” no longer means “I will stay”.

How to create fans

Start with your behaviour

The 64,000 dollar question is how does a company stand out in a way that fosters loyalty, and stay ahead? The answer? Start with your behaviour. Focus on what happens on the inside to influence how customers behave on the outside. Retool to burn a customer focus into the ‘everyday’ of your organisation. This will require organisational realignment and a commitment from your people – at every level – to think and behave differently.

What do you want to be known for?

You can’t be a 10 out of 10 for everything. It’s impossible. From your leadership to the frontline, focus on a shared vision of what you want your organisation to be known for. You will be creating a branded customer experience – a hallmark of the way your organisation does business. This laser focus will help you prioritise investment, resources and effort to improve the customer experience where it counts.

Employees can be fans too. Motivating your people to deliver your hallmark experience will not only improve what customers go through. Your people will also want to ‘live’ your brand and rave about it.

Be clear about purpose and communicate your values

Some companies are loved because they are clear about why they exist and the difference they make for their customers, their employees and the world. Being clear about ‘why’ helps identify the customers the organisation will appeal to. Trying to be ‘everything to everybody’ is a dangerous place to be.

Consumers want to buy from business that have a shared common purpose. They will assess businesses on what they stand for, say and do. Businesses that connect with customers on this shared sense of purpose tend to build hard-to-break bonds because their customers are emotionally invested in the mission. Understand what makes your ideal customer tick. Work out how to tap into the emotional drivers that makes them behave in the way they do.

Focus on the vital few investments

One of the biggest dilemmas we hear senior executives articulate is where do I invest in order to drive higher levels of customer satisfaction? Do I spend money improving my call centre, refurbishing my retail stores, training my staff or upgrading our product range? Research, focusing on your ideal customer, helps organisations understand which customer touchpoints are of most important and where the ‘moments of truth’ are that offer the greatest opportunity to establish an emotional bond.

Design the experience to deliver both consistency and differentiation – one that creates an emotional connection with customers

Getting the basics right is important for any organisation. Inconsistency drives customers away but consistency alone does not create fans. The big question is how to create distinct and memorable emotional experiences, in addition to functional reliability, along the customer journey. And for those sceptical about the power of emotional connection:

  • 80% of consumers make buying decisions based on an emotional connection with the business (via CallCentreHelper)
  • 55% of customers say they feel an emotional connection to local businesses (Uberall)
  • Positive emotional experiences are a bright spot for consumers experiencing a general deterioration in CX standards. And they increasing year on year. (Forrester)

Finally … share the love

Clothing company Charles Tyrwhitt understands that satisfied is not good enough for true loyalty. They want their customers to love them … and they are not afraid to say that and hold themselves to that standard through their content. These lines from a recent email I received are a good example of how to get this right.

CT explains its ‘love’ mission in a relatable way. It’s not trite or twee.

The company tells me that I am valued.