Expectation matching key to customer loyalty

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on February 2, 2012

Rather than merely offering 'daily deal' discounts, the idea of 'expectation matching' based on voice of the customer (VOC) initiatives has been identified as the key to customer retention and driving sustainable brand growth, according to research by loyalty marketing association Loyalty 360.

Each brand's customers have similar yet distinct interests and expectations, and long-term customer loyalty is dependent upon the brand's ability to understand them, not only when they're acquired but also to use a data-centric marketing strategy to drive brand engagement and make them into loyal brand advocates.

According to Mark Johnson, CEO for Loyalty 360, "When the expectations of both the consumer and the brand are understood and refined through a process of interactive dialogue, the expectation is matched, and mutually beneficial outcomes and financial benefit for the brand are created."

So 'expectation matching' happens when customer-centric brands create both brand loyalty and engagement by using behavioural insights gleaned through a proactive dialogue with their customers.

"Marketers believe that they know what is best for their customers, and through countless customer experience surveys they think they understand what their consumers want. Yet, we know that people are inherently irrational and what they tell you in a feedback mechanism may not mirror their actual behaviour or desires," warned Johnson. "Marketers that successfully cultivate loyal brand advocates do so by implementing a true voice of the customer model to create a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the customer. Only with this insight can marketers deliver a brand experience that matches and ultimately exceeds customer expectations."

Brands that do not meet the expectations of their customers typically resort to using discounting, gimmicks and other methods to entice potential customers to purchase from them. This practice is not new; it has been around for years in the form of coupons, free-standing inserts (FSIs), and other price-conscious campaigns. The idea is that the brand should offer a significant discount that will encourage customers to buy it, try it, but it's not a long term strategy because customers never know if the brand will do so more than once.

Johnson believes that this 'acquisition without expectation' mentality is detrimental: "I would argue that you harm the brand indefinitely when, from the onset of the relationship, you tell the customer that you will give them a huge discount to purchase their brand. Doing this creates divergent expectations and, since the brand is not going to exceed or even meet customer experience, there's really no hope that the customer will re-engage with the brand."

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