Feb 27, 2015

What Drives Customer Loyalty?

Hint: It's NOT prices or prizes

Feb 27, 2015

What Drives Customer Loyalty?

Hint: It's NOT prices or prizes

It may not come as a shock that, according to the Social Consumer Study, price weighs heavily on a consumer's decisions.

But this might surprise you: price comes in at a distant second when it comes to driving customer loyalty.

The same study says that, in long-term customer relationships, nothing weighs as heavily as consistently positive experiences: If you promise great service and a good time, your customers will remain your customers as long as you keep that promise.

What Creates Positive Experiences?

It's thinking like this that rescued Continental Airlines.

In 1994, the company ranked dead last among major airlines. Bags were often lost, takeoffs were rarely punctual. Customer complaints were the industry high, meal quality was the industry low. They had not turned a profit in 16 years.

They started with tactics designed to reduce ticket prices and lower costs: adding seats, eliminating food services, even incentivizing pilots to fly slower in order to reduce fuel usage. Their stock continued to tank.

Then they started over. CEO Gordon Bethune reimagined Continental from the tarmac up, keeping the customer in view at every turn.

Exceptional amenities became the standard: better meals were served at more suitable times.

Customer satisfaction became employee satisfaction: company-wide incentives were delivered for keeping flights on time.

Cleanliness became a priority: cleaning crew visits were tripled.

By 1995, they were the number one airline in the industry, and they remained so right up to their merger with United in 2010.

How Can I Be Consistent?

That campaign was dubbed "Make Reliability a Reality," and reliability is the key to its success: the remodeled Continental nurtured a new culture of loyalty by promising a first-class experience and delivering it again and again.

How can you make reliability a reality in your store? Try it the Continentalway.

Make exceptional amenities the norm: diverse food offerings, storage for bags and trade binders, plush seating.

Make customer satisfaction the first concern: generous return policy, kiosk for DCI sign ups, employees hired for personality rather than game knowledge.

Make cleanliness the routine: spotless floors, inviting restrooms, orderly product displays.

First consider your customer's perspective, then consider how to measure success.

How Do I Know It's Working?

Continental measured success with Department of Transportation monitored statistics—luggage mishandlings, denied boardings, customer complaints—assuming that as those numbers went down, the bottom line would go up.

So what are the game store equivalents?

Your WPN rep can help you track new players, return players, total players and more.

Beyond that, you can monitor your ratings on social media, online review sites, or build satisfaction surveys and monitor responses.

What Can I Do Now?

Continental's plan succeeded in less than six months. The first week was spent devising the plan.

Establish a goal—improve customer retention by 5%, say. Then establish the tactics to get you there, and the measurements to know when you've arrived.

Because whether you're underperforming or overachieving, making reliability a reality is a good move for any business—including yours.

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