Emotional Imprints Drive Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Dynamic View customer loyaltyThere is more to customer loyalty that just the experience, according to David Robbins, Global Director, Customer Satisfaction & Experience, GfK. Emotional imprints drive customer loyalty and satisfaction.

During his Tuesday webinar, “A Dynamic View of Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction,” which was hosted by Loyalty360 and presented by GfK, Robbins told attendees that bridging the gap between creating a satisfied customer and a loyal customer is a major challenge for marketers today. To be successful, businesses need to deliver product and service experiences that are both highly satisfying and memorable, and leave emotional imprints that render customer experiences memorable.

Robbins said marketers need to focus on retaining their best customers because they present the best benefits: Lower cost to serve, greater share of wallet/spend, openness to upselling or cross-selling, are stronger customer advocates, and offer companies greater profitability and increased customer value.

“We want our customers out there to promote us,” Robbins said.

Robbins said measuring customer loyalty involves the Big Three:  Advocacy, Retention, and Purchase.

What’s more, there is the importance of product and service quality measurement.

“We need to understand how companies impact customer satisfaction and customer experience,” Robbins said. “The goal is to understand what levers we can operate on to really drive the outcomes we’re trying to achieve.”

A dynamic view of customer loyalty and satisfaction revolves around a notion of emotion, Robbins said. He offered three key learnings on the impact of emotion on memory:

The most vivid memories tend be those most strongly associated with emotional events and experiences

Emotional responses enhance the memorability of certain experiences, and impair the memory of others (emotion is this force that supports memory)

The memory-enhancing effect of emotion has been widely demonstrated in countless experimental studies

Robbins said the best customer experiences leave emotional imprints.

Monitoring the “emotional imprint” of customer experience has moved from an idea to a KPI, Robbins said, depending on the low or high memorability.

“What makes it memorable is the imprint of emotion,” he said. “Satisfaction doesn’t equate to customer loyalty. There’s more to loyalty than just the experience.”

Two dynamic factors impact customer loyalty:

Brand Stickiness: Factors that make customers perceive switching could be difficult

Competitive Pull: Factors that reflect the influence of competitive alternatives

“The intersection of these two factors equals relationship durability,” Robbins said. “We’ve got to understand durability, break out of old paradigms, and narrow the gap between satisfaction and loyalty.”

Managing customer loyalty comes down to a cycle of experiences and relationships, Robbins said.

“Experiences and the emotional imprints of experiences explain behavior in the marketplace and those form the foundation for durable relationships,” he said. “Market momentum is a function of customer flow, which is really critical and central to a dynamic view of customer loyalty and satisfaction.”

The secret for growth and momentum?

Minimizing customer outflow and maximizing inflow of customers.

“Advocacy is an important driver in customer inflow,” Robbins said. “It’s critical that we focus on this notion of customer flow.

How do we determine what matters to customers?

Robbins replied with a two-step process for setting priorities that matter:

Identify and fix attributes that create Negative Emotional Imprints and At Risk relationships

Identify and enhance attributes that create Positive Emotional Imprints and Secure relationships

Robbins also offered three key things for marketers to focus on if they want a dynamic view of customer loyalty and satisfaction:

Focus on strengthening the emotional imprint of your customer experience

Focus on building durable relationships with your customers that resist the competition (many companies really struggle putting this into practice);

Focus on managing the flow of customers through your brand (through the experience and relationship cycle)

“Relationships customers have with brands tell us more than the day-to-day experiences they have with brands,” Robbins explained.

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