British companies are failing to keep the love alive with customers, according to a St Valentine’s Day survey from Strativity, a leading customer strategy firm. In a poll of 402 managers and directors, 69% feel they are either in an open marriage or in an on-again-off-again relationship. Any loyalty from customers is due to inertia, not delight.
The survey, released in time for Valentine’s Day, delved into the current state of relationships between companies and their customers. Forty-seven per cent believe that customers stay with them because of inertia and a further 24% feel customers stay only because of convenience or price. Like a marriage that has lost its spark, expectations have sunk to an all time low, with 37% of executives acknowledging that they have become too comfortable and complacent.
Lior Arussy, CEO of Strativity, says: “Many couples find that good communication withers away a few years into a marriage; the same is true of companies and their customers. If you only talk when you are fighting (when a customer has a complaint) and on special occasions (a renewal date), then it’s time to call in the marriage guidance counsellor.”
Despite a need to fight harder to retain custom in tough economic times, it seems that British companies are still opting for minimal investment in their relationships. A tiny percentage (just 7%) of UK respondents are planning to ‘shower customers with gifts’ (rewards or loyalty schemes) to entice customers to stay, compared to 20% of US companies.
Chris Mills, Strativity’s UK Managing Director, is urging UK companies to use Valentine’s Day to inject some excitement into their relationships. “If you let your ego get in the way of making an effort with your relationship, don’t be surprised if your customer walks away. There is no room for complacency in good economic times or bad but when we are threatened with a triple dip recession, you have to put the customer first in order to survive.”
The Strativity survey did see a hint of some good intentions. It seems that being asked the question prompted many directors and managers to think about change – 52% said they would try to sweep their customers off their feet in 2013 by providing exceptional customer service and 51% did promise to try something new.
And there was some good news to be taken from the findings. Complacency and apathy may be rife but only 5% of companies felt they were a one night stand based on price only.
Lior Arussy’s top three tips for putting the passion back into your relationships:
- Take an honest look at the state of your relationship. Is it inspiring and emotional or merely transactional?
- This year focus on delighting and surprising your customers. Stop boring them with the same old experience.
- Collaborate with your customers to create exceptional experiences. Don’t assume you know what’s good for them.