Customer loyalty can be developed because of three basic areas:
1. Customer service – This is about how well you deliver the product or service that you sell.
2. Confidence – This comes from the customer knowing what to expect – and getting it. The experience becomes predictable.
3. The product or service works – No matter how nice you are (customer service) if the product doesn’t do what it is supposed to do, you will probably lose the customer.
A recent study conducted by Marco Costa, of the University of Bologna, as reported in the Harvard Business Review (September 2011) sparked an idea that could improve the customer experience, which would further move the customer toward loyalty. Costa’s study indicated that 66% of students observed in lecture halls over a six week period chose the same seat, or an adjacent one, every time. The study, titled “Territorial Behavior in Public Settings,” suggests that restaurants and hotels could boost satisfaction by giving repeat customers the same table or room on each visit. From an internal customer service perspective, the study suggests that companies could reduce worker anxiety by holding recurring meetings in the same conference room.
The idea falls in the area of predictability. More than creating a predictable customer experience through service, which is typically delivered by people, look for ways to repeat a tangible or physical part of the experience. This appeals to the customer’s senses. A repeat of the physical layout, putting the customer at the table they are familiar with, a memorable smell, a familiar type of music in the background; all of these are tangible and add a big layer of consistency.
We work very hard to create a great customer experience. Customers like consistency. They like what they are used to. They like what they have positively experienced in the past, and tend to want a repeat experience. So, what can you consistently do, over and over, that will build a positive and predictable tangible experience for your customers?