Customer Service, Not Price, Drives Brand Loyalty – Part 1

It’s a question that executives in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry ask themselves every day. In a world filled with nearly limitless choices, what motivates consumers to select one product over another?
 
For some shoppers, it’s a no-brainer: Just go with the brand name you know and trust. Thrifty patrons might choose a bargain discount, regardless of what name is on the box.
 
But for many, the choice can come down to a cluster of criteria, including price, but ultimately decided by a quality that tracks back to an underappreciated and often overlooked intangible – customer service. In a price-driven industry, CPG brands vie for consumer attention alongside competitors that often have the luxury of offering their products for the lowest possible cost.
 
Smaller and mid-size CPG brands can make their mark is by building loyalty the old-fashioned way – earning it through quality interaction with consumers. Whether it be by phone, social media or live chat, companies today have more opportunities than ever to foster deeper connections with their customer base.

Crafting the Customer Experience

In today’s technology-driven world, many CPG brands fail to utilize valuable tools that can make the difference between potential customers choosing their product over a competitor’s.
 
The most important influence in a customer’s decision making process is how positive their association with a brand is. Such experiences can help build a relationship that lasts a lifetime, but few CPG brands realize it starts before a consumer ever enters a store.
 
To create the opportunity for consumers to interact with and become familiar with a product, CPG brands must first create a way to facilitate communication. That means utilizing the latest self-service options. By investing in the infrastructure of their websites, CPG brands can better position themselves to be the go-to choice for customers, thereby laying the foundation for lasting loyalty.
 
A good example of this is Goodyear Tires. To most consumers, a tire is a tire is a tire. Few people ask their mechanic what brand tire they would recommend. They immediately go for the most cost-effective option. Goodyear recognized this, and upgraded its website to make the purchasing process as seamless as possible. Customers can now enter their automobile information and receive an online recommendation for the best tire to fit their need. They can then make an appointment at a local Goodyear shop so that the right tire is already waiting when they arrive. And they can do this all without ever speaking to a sales representative.
 
At Inktel, we have received feedback from several customers who said they only shop at Goodyear now because the process is so easy.
 

Get Proactive on Social Media

Social media users represent a vast and often untapped network of new customers and potential brand loyalists. For CPG brands, it’s not enough to simply wait for someone to comment on your product. You must be proactive and make the first move. If a consumer posts a photo wearing a specific pair of shoes, the brand owner should make a point to respond with a comment such as “Great pic!” or “love the shoes!”
 
Social media representatives must be aware of always communicating in a unified brand voice that promotes a positive interaction. Further, brands should take the time to identify followers who have been longtime brand advocates and send them free products, which can be a win-win for both the company and the consumer. Brands have the opportunity to offload excess inventory while making a customer very happy.

Summer Dennis is president and COO of Inktel Contact Center Solutionsone of the country’s largest privately owned providers of third-party customer-service solutions. The company provides support services in the form of online chat, social media, U.S.-based call centers, email response and marketing data analysis to some of the world’s largest Fortune 500 brands.

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