Brand Experiences Affect Customer Loyalty

“Remarkable experiences leave a mark – whether the experience is remarkably good, or remarkably bad. These memories are mind-share, essentially brand equity, the capital of brands.” – Niko Nyman

There is possibly no room for doubt that brand experiences are critical to customer loyalty – having a direct bearing on how customers view and interact with a brand. Some of the largest and most successful companies are so because they have understood that brand experiences affect customer loyalty, and therefore ensure that every interaction and experience customers have with their brand leaves customers pleased and even more amenable to buying again. Brand experiences are, simply put, the feelings and behaviours that a brand is able to evoke in its customers – and these experiences could be either good or bad. Whatever the experience, customer satisfaction and loyalty are directly connected and affected, and it really is the responsibility of the company to use its brand as a relationship builder in order to gain customer loyalty and business success.

While a brand itself may incite feelings and emotions, it is the experiences that a customer may have with it, which would define whether they feel positive or negatively about the brand. The customer’s response is therefore directly influenced by the stimuli created by a brand. Brand experiences affect customer loyalty – these experiences are about the way a customer feels about a brand. Hence, naturally positive experiences would build affinity and loyalty, while negative ones would have diametrically opposite reactions. Every company needs to increase their business and customer loyalty, and hence the most obvious thing to do would be ensure that every experience customers have, leaves them delighted, willing to provide repeat business, and over time become the brand ambassadors.

The thing about brand experiences is that they are easily spread and passed on to others. We know that customers are using social media and other means increasingly, to discuss, share, and speak about companies and brands. However, the tough part is that people tend to share poor experiences a lot more than the positive ones – on average, bad experiences are shared with at least 16 people, as opposed to an average of only nine for the good ones. The challenge for companies is that despite their best efforts they would not be able to control every touch-point and interaction that a customer may have with the brand. However, what a company can do is ensure that every interaction in its control exceeds the expectations of customers, and the impression they are left with is memorable and happy.

For a brand to be able to stimulate customers towards loyalty, a company must ensure top class quality of the products, and customer service, thereby providing undeniable value to customers. The brand must stand out and differentiate itself in as many ways as possible from every other player in the market. The most important thing to remember though would be that all of the aspects mentioned, would be in vain if the brand experiences were poor, and negatively affected customers. Consistently poor or great experiences will determine whether a customer runs away or stays loyal to a brand and company. Has your company identified the ways in which it can provide consistently great brand experiences such that customers stay?

There is a saying, “what can be seen, will sell”. By this ‘mantra’, it becomes necessary for a company to make it convenient and easy for customers to find, buy, and enjoy long-term benefits from the brand. As a customer, would you not choose a brand / company that provided speedy and ‘doorstep’ service, as opposed to one that had long wait times and or required appointments and scheduling. In addition, as customers we expect to find whatever we need , and would not frequent a place that either did not have what we need, or was consistently out of stock. Convenience, speedy, and efficiency are brand experiences that will positively affect customer loyalty, while a company that makes customers chase after them, or constantly follow up, will soon be out of business.

We know that one of the topmost reasons for customer loyalty (or not) now is the kind of service a company provides. Top class customer service is possibly one of the leading generators of loyalty. Customers expect and demand great service – it shows them how committed a company is to them, and how much belief it has in its brand and products. The basic premise of service would be to make the life of customers easier by responding speedily to their requests, and efficiently solving their problems. It is about giving customers delightful brand experiences, which they would want to share and pass on to others. We would like to point out however, that even if a customer does have a poor experience, a company can salvage the relationship, or build a new one by swift action and service recovery. In fact, a company that is able quickly resolved issues is able to demonstrate its capability and assure customers that they would have better experiences going forward. Research proves that the more successful brands are those that consistently provide great experiences, and in the event that they do mess up, do an awesome job in fixing whatever went wrong and assuring customers that the situation would not recur.

As customers become happier with a company, they would be more prone to providing positive comments (the converse being true as well), especially on online and social media sites. A company’s reputation is made or broken depending on the brand experiences they have – and often a company would be unaware of the ‘discussions’ that surround it. To ensure that your brand is seen as authentic, valuable, and interesting, it is imperative for a company to build strong relationships with their customers. It is these customers who end up sharing positive word of mouth, and sending top class referrals to a company, increasingly strengthening a brand. While a company would never always have positive comments from their customers, a large number of great comments would still be extremely beneficial to it. It is critical for a company to respond to both positive and negative customer comments – this is feedback from customers, and they expect that a company would honour their comments by responding to them. It is easier to respond to positive comments, but top brand experiences happen by the way a company handles negativity – highly professional and efficient responses and solutions can actually turn an irate customer to a loyal one.

We have spoken earlier about the fact that corporate social responsibility (CSR) of a company has become a major factor in customer choice. Customers tend to reward companies that have a robust CSR program that consistently reaches out to alleviate problems and issues in society and or environment related. Such companies are more likely to gain customer loyalty since a company active in social causes displays its humane side – an aspect that scores very high on customer satisfaction and loyalty. The whole idea is that a brand must be focused on experiences that go beyond the actual products and or service offered. Such companies are sure to have customer loyalty for a long time – it is all about marketing and displaying a brand in order to create and sustain positive and memorable brand experiences.

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