Generating Loyalty in the Age of the Customer
By Mark Cameron
In this highly competitive market, fighting to acquire and retain these newly empowered customers is going to require innovative thinking. Many companies are going to need to rethink what customer loyalty means to their business. Simply rewarding transactions is no longer enough for many customers. Consumers have always had choice about where they spend their money; now they also have another choice. They can choose what they say about the experience of making that purchase. Put simply, it is just as important to measure and reward customer advocacy as it is to reward repeat purchases.
Forrester’s research into “the Age of the Customer” suggests the trend started in 2010. The Age of Manufacturing lasted from 1900 to 1960. The age of distribution where global transportation was the key factor for scale lasted from 1960 to 1990. More recently the Age of Information, where supply chains were dominated by those who controlled the flow of data, lasted from 1990 to 2010. Nobody knows just how long the Age of the Customer will actually last but if these past examples are anything to go by, it’s likely to be a trend that may last for 10 years or more.
The experience you design and manage for your customers is now your biggest challenge and your greatest opportunity. Customer advocacy can no longer be a guessing game. It needs to be systemized. It needs to be pulled into loyalty programs and rewarded. Integration of loyalty and advocacy will become the foundation of a winning customer experience.
Mark Cameron is CEO and lead strategist of social media conversion and commercialization agency Working Three. While his agency is based in Melbourne, Australia, he works for some of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking brands. As a regular speaker and writer on social media and digital strategy, Mark stays focused on customers and outcomes, not the technology, leading to simple strategic conclusions.