By Shep Hyken
If you have been following my work, you may remember something I refer to as The Loyalty Question.
It goes like this: What am I doing right now to make sure the customer comes back the next time they need whatever it is we sell?
Most people think customer loyalty is about a lifetime. That’s a pretty big goal—making a customer stay for a lifetime. But if you break it down into smaller parts—as in the next time—it becomes much easier. As you ask yourself the loyalty question, think about the next time every time. Eventually, it can become a lifetime.
That question is still relevant, now more than ever, but let’s take it beyond people-to-people interactions. Let’s look at the bigger experience—specifically, the digital or technological interactions that our customers have with us.
One of the hot topics of the COVID-19 pandemic world we live in is a touchless experience. Often, touchless means a digital or automated experience—in other words, one that is void of the people-to-people experience.
For example, pre-COVID-19 I was at an airport gift shop and bought a book. There was no cashier; just two kiosks for customers to self-checkout. There was an employee to help people who couldn’t figure out the system, but I observed that nobody talked to her. Amazon Go is a convenience store chain that has automated or self-service checkout. You walk in the store, pick up what you want and walk out. When they opened their first store in early 2018, nobody thought that customers would not only want a people-less way to shop, but in the wake of COVID-19, desire and demand it.
In his 1995 book, The Road Ahead, Bill Gates predicted we wouldn’t have to carry cash in the not-so-distant future. We would pay for goods and services, even tip the valet, without having to physically exchange cash.
Today, customers want a touchless experience. They shop online so they don’t have to interact with people. They want delivery so they don’t have to go into a store. This is not about convenience, but about health and safety.
I still believe that loyalty is driven by emotion, which has always been about the personal connection. Today, the emotion expands to feeling safe. The emotion is confidence versus fear.
I could expand on this topic (and may in the future), but for now, I want you to consider your process. You may have the best people in the world for your customers to talk to. Do you also have a process—a customer experience (CX)—that makes them feel safe?
So, The Loyalty Question 2.0 has a minor change: Does the process our customer experiences make them want to come back the next time they need what we sell?