As consumer behaviour expert Philip Graves has shown, we’re all much more sensitive to the risk of losing out than we are to the opportunity for a win. Experiments have shown, for example, that people who lose money feel the loss more than those who find it feel the gain. We are, as a species, a rather pessimistic bunch.
When it comes to customer service and the art of making brands ‘stickier’ this trait has a big implication: people often return to the same brand simply because they don’t want to risk the disappointment that may result from trying a new one.
Put like that I can see why Graves believes customer loyalty doesn’t really exist and that what we actually feel towards our favourite brands is ‘stickiness’.
The difference between ‘loyalty’ and ‘stickiness’ may seem purely semantic, but there’s actually an important distinction between the two. With loyalty as our goal, brands focus on positives and on what they can do to make customers like them more. With stickiness as the goal, it’s more important to focus on what the brand can do to stop customers feeling regret for choosing them. The grass isn’t always greener, it seems.
As Graves points out, the major advantage of ‘stickiness’ over ‘loyalty’ is that we can measure the former.
Recently, Net Promoter Scores and Customer Effort Scores have become popular, but it can be difficult to find a simple, measurable correlation between these scores and a business’ bottom line. For instance, we may know that 30% of our customers actively promote our brand, but what does that relate to in terms of revenue? It’s opaque at best, and quite frankly, murky at worst.
Stickiness bridges this gap. After all, stickiness is essentially an equation: the number of products a customer has purchased calculated against the length of time they have owned them and how many of a competitor’s products they have also bought. Pragmatically we should think of stickiness as a measurement of customer retention – which in turn allows brands to lower their overall acquisition and service costs (reinforcing the old adage that it’s much cheaper to keep an existing customer than to win over a new one).
If businesses adopt stickiness as a measurement then there must be a caveat: it’s not a panacea or magic bullet. A number of metrics should be used as focusing too heavily on one or two could have adverse effects on other areas that need to be address. For example, measuring success in terms of how quickly an agent concludes a customer call may only lead to rushed calls rather than better service.
Customer service issues are therefore multi-dimensional and must be measured across a number of different variables – including acquisition, retention and efficiency – and always from the point of view of the customer’s experience and needs.
In this way, measurement needs to evolve from purely quantitative metrics to qualitative ones too. By treating customers as people and not simply cases to be solved, businesses will take major strides towards ensuring they never feel regret, and towards ensuring they stick with the brand in a way that has a proven impact on the bottom line.
Consumer psychology expert Philip Graves, explains the three key customer behaviours critical to understand for great customer service delivery. Watch his video here.