What Drives Customer Loyalty?

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I was speaking with a colleague at work last week about the Harvard Business Review article on customer effort and its effect on customer loyalty. She had recently written a post about the article and we were discussing what we thought drove loyalty. Lots of research has been done, but the results are inconclusive. Some research shows that there’s a direct correlation between customer service or customer satisfaction and customer loyalty; others don’t. My guess is that the differences are driven by the way questions are asked in the satisfaction survey.

My colleague, Monica, was musing that perhaps we’re just less loyal than previous generations. Her father drove a Ford…forever. My folks favored Mercury. I was a Volvo girl until the Prius came along. Since I believe that people buy based on emotion and backfill with logic, it makes sense that loyalty may be driven in part by demographics and psychographics in addition to customer satisfaction, customer effort, etc.

I’ve been examining my own loyalty ever since that article came out in the Harvard Business Review. What I can report is that while I love my FitBit to death and am currently extremely loyal, I would bail in a heartbeat if better technology came along (read I see myself as an early adopter of technology). I love my Prius but with my next car purchase could be talked into something even more energy efficient (read save the planet and don’t forget the cool factor). Yes, customer effort plays a part in keeping me loyal, but only until something that fits my values and emotions better come along. Then I’m willing to travel into uncharted waters and risk poor service. So loyal? Yes, for awhile.

Think about your own loyalty. What companies do you consider yourself loyal to? What would cause you to move to another company? Just how “loyal” are you? Does it have to do with what type of service you receive from the company? The product? Your values and emotions? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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