By now, we’re all familiar with the importance of customer experience: from personalized ads to unforgettable unboxings to a perfect post-purchase email flow, today’s shoppers demand hyper-relevant interactions with brands. But when you break it down, what are the key factors that truly influence a customer’s perception of your brand?
Building brand loyalty through great customer experience
In our digital-first age, brands have more growth opportunities than ever before. But on the other hand, this presents challenges in the form of increased competition and sky-high consumer expectations.
The dynamics of business are constantly evolving: Salesforce found that for 80% of today’s consumers, the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
While brands and retailers often have their eyes trained on conversion and sales, exceptional customer experience is just as essential because it breeds long-term brand loyalty. Your loyal customers will not only come back to shop again and again, but they are also more likely to tell their friends, family, and online and offline communities about their favorite brands. Creating a customer experience that enhances loyalty is great for business in the long-run.
According to Bain & Company, “loyalty leaders” or companies that prioritize customer relationships, “grow revenues more than twice as fast as their industry peers.”
8 Factors that impact customer experience and, ultimately, brand loyalty
Delivering a spectacular customer experience is easier said than done. What may be a positive interaction for one customer can have the opposite effect on another. Shoppers have wildly varied preferences, depending on everything from their demographic profile to their shopping habits.
Personalization is critical. Brands must understand their customers in order to provide experiences that suit their needs, and in turn, continuously nurture customer loyalty.
Gartner revealed that close to 80% of “companies that have seen positive revenue growth collect more customer experience data than non-growth companies.” These companies use tools such as surveys, usability testing, focus groups, and real-time analytics to better understand their customers.
To get you started, consider the following eight areas that present an opportunity to improve customer experience and turn one-time shoppers into brand loyalists.
1. Price and value
Unsurprisingly, price plays heavily into purchase considerations. Seventy-nine percent of consumers would switch from a brand they like to another for a better price. However, perceived value goes a long way towards ensuring customer satisfaction at any price point. In fact, despite their desire for lower prices, consumers are willing to pay up to a 16% price premium if it means they’ll enjoy a positive customer experience, according to PwC.
By creating the right experience, every industry from car insurance to sporting event tickets can command a higher price (7% more and 13% more respectively). Shoppers are typically willing to pay even more for a great customer experience when it comes to luxury or even smaller indulgence purchases, such as coffee (16% more) and hotel stays (14% more).
2. Speed and convenience
Customers want to engage with brands that make their lives easier, whether that’s done by speeding up website load times to save them time and frustration or by solving last-mile delivery challenges for a smoother experience.
Across industries, convenience drives growth and influences purchase decisions. In retail, NRF found that a whopping 97% of consumers have backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient for them.
3. Product accessibility
Shoppers, especially those who prefer self-service, want to find the products they’re looking for as quickly as possible. However, McKinsey & Co. pointed to a key customer pain point at this stage of the buyer journey: the “inability to identify and find the product.” With endless product listing pages to scroll through, shoppers often get frustrated and may drop off your site in favor of a competitor’s or event abandon the search altogether.
One solution is visual search, which enables users to upload an image, screenshot, or photo to a search engine and get visually similar matches. This improves inventory visibility as well as intuitive product discovery across the shopping experience.
4. Quality of service
What are the top two reasons that would stop almost 60% of consumers from doing business with a company? A bad employee attitude and unfriendly service, according to PwC.
Consistent communication, knowledgeable customer support, and engaging in-store staff make for high-quality service regardless of industry — similarly to overall positive experiences, many shoppers are also willing to pay a premium if they can expect top-notch customer service.
5. Brand image and social currency
Instead of solely relying on brand advertisements, consumers are increasingly turning to communities, word-of-mouth, and user-generated content for product recommendations. This is where social currency becomes significant.
KPMG defines social currency as “the entirety of actual and potential resources which arise from the presence in social networks and communities, including both digital and offline.”
The more a customer feels understood by and identified with a brand’s image, the more likely they are to engage with that brand on social media, as well as share content about their purchases and recommend the brand to their social networks. According to Vivaldi, social currency drives brand loyalty, and brands with high social currency command a price premium.
In today’s competitive landscape, treating customers like VIPs is the foundation of good customer experience. Adding an element of exclusivity for your best customers takes their interactions with your brand to the next level. When consumers perceive a company, its products, and services as exclusive, they are willing to pay more.
One way to ensure your best customers feel special is by introducing a loyalty program that allows high-spend customers to unlock VIP benefits, like exclusive access to sales or new products. A loyalty program will encourage even your newest customers to come back time and again: In fact, Yotpo found that when trying a new brand, loyalty perks and rewards are primary motivators for 35% of consumers.
Consumers connect with brands that not only align with their lifestyles, but also with their principles. A KPMG study found integrity to be one of the most influential factors for consumers worldwide when choosing to do business with a particular company.
In addition to the responsible use of personal data, “firms with a strong sense of purpose are attracting generation Z, millennials and baby boomers, as environmental and social concerns increase in many countries.” Today’s consumers are savvy and well-informed, so when choosing your brand values, it’s important to stick to causes that authentically resonate with your business.
8. A human touch: the core of a memorable customer experience
Empathy is critical for building a better customer experience. According to the Harvard Business Review, the top ten most empathetic companies “increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom ten.”
Not only that, but empathy is also a key way to make customers feel seen and understood, building a strong emotional connection that will go a long way towards fostering brand loyalty. Psychology Today revealed that customers are more likely to remain loyal when there’s a positive emotional connection with a brand. Some are more likely to spend more, while others are willing to advocate on behalf of the brand.
Finding the Right Balance for Your Customer Experience
Ultimately, when taken all together, these factors support a personalized customer experience, which is at the core of building brand loyalty. Investing in the right technology, strategy, and people can help brands find the ideal balance among these key customer experience influencers, enabling them to attract, engage, and most importantly, retain customers.