Many marketers define customer loyalty as repeated purchases (or other relevant kinds of transactions) by a customer with a company. But this is overstated and a poor conception for what drives customer loyalty. You might just be the cheapest provider or your store might just be the closest to their home. As soon as a better option comes around, you are left on the cutting room floor. That is not loyalty.
Am I going somewhere with this or just exchanging pleasantries? A little of both. On my way home from work last Wednesday, I passed a Chinese restaurant with a bar in the front. Sitting at the bar was a row of about ten men, all seemed to be alone, staring down at the bottle of beer on the counter in front of them, with the same blank stare. Since it was a weekday and 7pm, I generalized that most of them were on their way home from work but not yet ready to go home. They were leaving the cognitive or physical stressors at work and needed some rest before encountering the social stressors at home. As pressed as we are for time in the Age of the Missing Work-Life Balance, sometimes we need to check out of life for a few minutes.
I bring this up here because I was thinking that this is a real waste of a possible user experience for the restaurant. With a little ingenuity, they could engage the customer, provide them with the valuable benefit of mental recovery, and build some customer loyalty.
Do you prefer to interact with companies or products that have social goals or otherwise make you feel good about giving them your business? Now flip to the other side. As an experience designer, do you consider this feeling when designing customer experiences? Have you ever worked on products or services that leveraged a social good as the customer experience rather than the direct value derived from the product or service itself?
Take Patagonia for example. On the surface, they are an apparel company, specializing in rugged outdoorsy gear. The reputation of their products is pretty solid, so they can market themselves as a high quality provider. But they don’t. Instead, they promote their social mission. They donate 1% of sales to grassroots environmental causes. This is self-serving, you might say, since their best customers are probably environmentally minded.
I am sure that many EID readers are regular travelers who have stayed in a hotel or two. How many times have you looked around your room or the common areas and thought of ways that things could be done better? Better delivery of food and drink? Better support for working in your room? Better entertainment? A better night’s sleep? Better support for regular customers to build community and long term loyalty?…