Even The Girl Scouts of America Know the Importance of Customer Loyalty

Recently, while watching the evening news, there appeared a story about the Girl Scouts of the USA.  The reporter described how the Girl Scouts completely overhauled the system of badges that Scouts could earn. The new badges encourage “the critical thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship that the next generation of leaders will need to make the world a better place, including one entitled “Customer Loyalty”.  This topic brought to mind how important customer loyalty is for private enterprise and our bottom line.

Girl Scouts of America ~ The “Customer Loyalty” badge in
the Cookie sequence.

As a point of reference, let’s define loyalty as a customer’s intention to continue doing business with a company, increase their spending or say good things about it (or refrain from saying bad things). A recent article from the Customer Contact Council
(CCC), headquartered in Washington, DC, contradicts conventional wisdom that to increase loyalty, companies must “delight” customers by exceeding service expectations.  In fact, based on the results of a large scale study of contact-center and self-service interactions, CCC found that what customers really want (but rarely get) is just a satisfactory solution to their service issue.

Two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy. First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort – the work they must do to get their problem solved – does.  Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs and decrease customer agitation.

CCC elaborates further that reps should focus on reducing the effort customers must make and that doing so increase the
likelihood that they will return to the company, increase the amount they spend there and speak positively (and not negatively) about it – in other words, that they’ll become more loyal.

When it comes to service, businesses create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.  During the CCC study, they found many companies that had successfully implemented low-customer-effort approaches to
service.  The following are five of the tactics they used:

  1. Don’t just resolve the current issue – head off the next one.
  2. Arm service representatives to address the emotional side of customer interactions.
  3. Minimize channel switching by increasing self-service channel “stickiness.”
  4. Use feedback from disgruntled or struggling customers to reduce customer effort.
  5. Empower the front line to deliver low-effort experience.

Last week, Avatel celebrated Customer Service Week by reaffirming our commitment to customer satisfaction, realigning our priorities to put customers first and recharging our energy and passion for service.  If our local Thin Mint cookie representatives
can remember how important customer loyalty is to their bottom-line, shouldn’t we, as business professionals, be doing the same?

Guest Blogger, Lonnie Ledford ~ Avatel Project Manager

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