“Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.”
― James Baldwin
Reciprocity is an unparalleled vehicle that can build trust, respect, solidarity, and ultimately loyalty and allegiance. Reciprocity is key in any type of relationship–whether that be personal or professional.
A love relationship without reciprocity is just a one-sided affair of the heart and a deception of the mind for at least one of the two involved, unless of course that’s the pre-agreed upon arrangement. A professional relationship without reciprocity means that one side is more invested or is open to providing more resources than the other party. Either way, in any relationship that does not involve reciprocity or where the energy and/or loyalty exchanged is not equal, one side is working harder than the other and one side is content to live in lack.
These days, consumers are absolutely the darlings of brands, yet the passionate love affairs are often cut quite short as soon something better comes around–a better price, better value, better quality, better service.
In this era of fast follows, the worst enemy to a successful product are the at times unscrupulous “fast-follows” that enter the market, taking your idea or product that you worked hard to perfect and improving some of the bugs or selling it at a lower price point. ‘Tis the nature of the world of business.
Unfortunately for brands, in this technologically advanced era where most consumers wield powerful comparison shopping power in the palms of their hands, it takes all but a few seconds for a potential customer to decide if they make the purchase of their desired item from you or from another, as a quick online search and skimming of sellers and pricing will help them to make a lightning speed decision.
Yet, oftentime a consumer will continue to make purchases even if it means paying a little more from the same company/brand if the right level of customer service is present. Great customer service doesn’t mean just when they interface with an actual sales or customer service rep.
No, quality service includes every touchpoint with the customer, from automated emails or newsletters to digital receipts, face-to-face interactions, chat convos (even when it’s a bot), to the way customer issues with the product or service are managed. And not just ensuring that these touchpoints are personalized with the customer name (it’s just one easy extra line of code to add that makes a big difference).
Yet, you would be surprised at how many companies cannot get those basics that make such a huge difference down. Or, I can no longer count on one hand the number of times that I’ve received emails with the wrong name on it, heck even my Target credit card has my name written incorrectly and after three attempts at getting them to correct it, I gave up.
When brands get these things wrong or ignore personalizing interactions with customers, just like in a relationship you assume that they have better things to do and that you don’t mean all that much to them and eventually the disconnect and loyalty disappears and no matter how many free perks you might offer in your rewards app, those superficial material things can’t replace the more important foundational pillars of the relationship. You begin to lose respect, trust, and eventually interest in the brand.
These days there is the added layer of shopping our values, as well. Adding yet another barrier to purchase/user conversion.
Consumers are well-aware that brands are simultaneously trying to seduce millions of potential customers, but if after such hard work to win a customer over you don’t do anything to retain them as the brand, then you better get your win-back campaign ready and it’s likely that champagne, roses, nor a weekend getaway aren’t going to cut it.
There are multiple other well-positioned brands offering your same (or sometimes even better versions) of your product, some perhaps at a lower price that are ready to take your place as your former consumers new go-to #1 crush for a specific product.
With brand’s getting into bed with every influencer (those influencer reviews sometimes come in handy though) or every celebrity and every athlete, etc. consumers are often left wondering who they are catering to.
People go where they are treated better, where quality is better, where the price is better and these days the consumer is more fickle than ever which is why it’s up to the brand to show it’s loyalty as soon as possible.
If you don’t want to see your consumer happily growing old (or forever young if it’s an anti-aging serum) with another brand, then you better step up to the plate and strengthen your customer journey/UX and relationship skills and saying I love you every now and again–or better yet, showing it, can’t hurt either.
Trust. No one wants to end up as a Chris Brown song. No one.