The mass extinction of loyal customers

Do truly loyal customers actually exist? I don’t believe they do.Now, before leaping forward and citing Apple and its legion of fanboys as the very example of customer loyalty, consider this: the fans of movie-streaming service Netflix were thought to be die-hard once upon a time, right up until the ergence of other streaming services like Hulu Plus, Amazon and Redbox Instant. Then, Netflix’s army of once-loyal customers scattered, switching to services that better suited each one’s changing tastes and needs.Where does that leave Netflix? The company is today struggling to rain a major player in its own market.What about bank tv commercials proudly proclaiming that generations of people have banked there, so why wouldn’t they continue? Yet, thanks to the Occupy movent – #occupy on Twitter – that has raised awareness of the giant profits of corporations across the world, big bank customers are defecting to smaller banks and credit unions to satisfy their own ethical preferences.What does this mean at the retail level? Customers are constantly re-evaluating not just the product but also the entire purchasing experience. They are kicking the tyres a lot but they’re doing it everywhere, not just at one business.Loyalty is deadFor a long time, customers were trapped. Switching is generally such a pain that it kept consumers stuck in limbo, not really satisfied with their experience but not really feeling enough real pain to go through the difficult process of leaving one business to use another.{{quote-A:R-W:450-Q: Not only must stores keep evaluating their customer experiences, but they must also keep their eyes on the competition and watch for changes in the needs of customers }}Ever tried to cancel a gym mbership or change mobile phone providers? Ever driven across town just to use a Coles instead of a Woolworths?Now, however, the barriers are breaking down. Typically a five-minute sign-up is all it takes to enjoy the spoils of becoming a new customer elsewhere.Consumers want to find a spot where they can stay. It’s too difficult to keep evaluating the competition. New businesses are the ones who do this best because they do it for the consumers – they explore the marketplace, find a source of pain or a dand for a new service, and they provide a solution to that ‘probl’.Businesses, however, become fat and happy while ignoring the truth: that their product is no longer cutting-edge and their customer experience is lacklustre and dated. But it’s OK, they say, because they still have their loyal customers, right? Don’t be fooled.When a business owner pushes evaluation and innovation to the back burner, big changes in customer expectations are brewing. All the while, competitors are watching and stirring the pot. Stores, including optometry practices, need to make customer experience a priority and they need to do it today.But who has the time to explore what’s happening on the outside? Already, day-to-day operations have the business fully stretched.The smart businesses, the ones who continue to delight their customers beyond the honeymoon phase, are the ones who prioritise their evaluations.Not only must stores keep evaluating their customer experiences but they must also keep their eyes on the competition, all the while watching for changes in the needs and expectations of the customers/patients.Rber the old stories about the Pony Express? They were hailed as heroes – rightfully – because they delivered the mail no matter what. Now, the US Postal Service is pushing enhanced and more specialised services into the market to compete with courier parcel services like UPS and FedEx.Australia Post is doing the same thing. The expectations have changed and it’s not enough just to deliver the mail anymore.The absence of constant market evaluation means the competition will gain ascendency when addressing the ever-changing expectations of those shared customers, and it will be too late to respond once it happens.

Relationships are like banksA friend of mine once explained why our friendship was so strong: “Relationships are like banks. It works best when you both make deposits. That way, there’s always something in the bank for a withdrawal.”His observation was truthful for many reasons. Apply this idea to business relationships and with customers, and you’ll see everyone, whether customer or business, needs to make a withdrawal from the relationship bank at times.If your customers feel nurtured and appreciated during the good times, they will be more forgiving and compassionate when there’s a probl. If your customers mistreated or neglected when everything is going as expected, how will they feel when you need to make a withdrawal from the relationship bank?


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