The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it – Spontaneity & Consistency
I’m returning to the subject of what I believe to be the Customer Loyalty Code. I have suggested that it is –
I’ve already written about Factor.1, Leadership and Culture, Factor.2, People and Culture and Factor 3. Science and Systems. So I’m now turning to Factor 4, Consistency and Spontaneity.
I think the starting point for this is to consider this simple diagram.
I’ve drawn it has a triangle because there is usually a lot more in the consistency part than in the spontaneity section. The key focus of this diagram, however, should be the dotted line. I’ve heard it said that you can’t have both consistency and spontaneity. But in my experience, you can. Here’s how.
What’s below the dotted line are the consistent things that should always be the same. They are the prescribed systems and behaviours that should never change or fail. They are monitored, ideally continually, but at least regularly, and measures are urgently taken if they ever slip below the prescribed minimums.
What’s above the line are the things that happen spontaneously. They are decided upon and delivered by the people closest to customers. And if there is a good monitoring and feedback system here too, as the really good ones are discovered, they can then be adopted as the norm, added to the consistent things, and so the line moves up and continuous improvement is achieved. It may sound simple, but it works.
I once heard a Brand describes as ‘A Bundle of Expectations, Experiences and Memories’. I really like that definition. The Expectations will result from the Promises the organisation makes (in say advertising & marketing, sales conversations, etc.,) public information about the organisation, and/or Memories of past Experiences. The Experiences part relates to the experiences that take place when the customer makes any contact with the organisation. And the Memories are the very few bits of the Experiences that stick in customers’ minds.
The expectations make up the things that must be consistently delivered if sustainable loyalty is to result. What these are will differ from organisation to organisation, but they usually relate to things like –
- Product or service quality
- Timing issues (like delivery or response times)
- Dress code
- Health and Safety
But whatever they are, as mentioned above, they are like a promise, which must be kept.
Research from various sources has shown that the most common number one requirement of a customer is to know that their supplier is Reliable. That means, ‘They are a supplier that can be trusted to always do what they say they will do’. Failing to do so makes the organization unreliable and customer disloyalty will inevitably follow. So reliability, which comes, from consistency, is a must. There are numerous ways this can be achieved, but in my experience, there are two key ones that really help.
System Thinking (Lean)
System Thinking is something that was originally devised by Dr W Edwards Deming. It was originally designed for use in manufacturing processes but it has been shown to be effective for other processes and in any type of organization.
It’s first, and probably most famous, use was in the creation of The Toyota Manufacturing System. That was key to making Toyota the most successful vehicle manufacturer of all time which has since been studiedand copied by organizations throughout the world. It is a system that is also called ‘Lean’. I try not to use that word because in my experience it can give the wrong impression (one of slimming down and/or cutting things) to people. And that’s not what it does. Its core purpose is to focus all people on being the best they can be, working together in the best way possible and delivering the best they can to those who receive what they do; whether that is colleagues or the end customer.
I have found that the principles, systems and processes recommended by System Thinking can create efficiency, and consistency in any organization and would, therefore, recommend getting to know what they are and using them wherever you can.
This is another system that was originally designed for manufacturers. It was created originally by Motorola as a system to remove unwanted variances in the manufacture of military equipment. That means it is a way of creating consistency, by ensuring that things are always as required. It, therefore, can be used in any organization to stop things going wrong.
A good example of its application would be to remove, for good, the causes of customer complaints. This is, therefore, another approach that I would recommend investigating and making use of.
I was reading recently that American Express have two principles to guide all employee decisions and actions. They are –
- Only promise what we can deliver.
- Always deliver what we promise.
If you can do that, you will be well on your way to delivering reliability through consistency.
So having considered Consistency. Let’s now turn to Spontaneity.
Things that happen as expected rarely make an impression and are not likely to be remembered. It’s the things that were unexpected, that we like, that are remembered and build loyalty. This means that spontaneity is an essential element to loyalty building.
For this to happen on a regular basis, people throughout the organization need to be encouraged and empowered to do what they think is right for their colleague or customer to give a great, unexpected service, when and how they think. I’ve heard this called ‘Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.’
Then, as mentioned above, any of these things that can be, should become built into the ‘way we do things around here’ so they become part of the consistency customer learn to expect and associate with the brand.
Remember that when people are free to do this, they will occasionally get it wrong. That’s how we learn new things. The key is to accept this will happen, support people when it does, help them fix anything that needs fixing, learn from it so it doesn’t happen again, but then encourage them to keep acting with spontaneity whenever they feel they should.
That’s it for consistence and spontaneity. In the next blog about The Loyalty Code I will comment on Factor 5. Improvement + Pace
- 4/4/2017:The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it – How Culture Fits In To The Loyalty Code
- 14/3/2017:The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it - Leadership & Strategy
- 21/3/2017:The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it - Leadership & Strategy vol2
- 28/3/2017:The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it – People and Culture
- 25/4/2017:The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it – Science & Systems