When you think of buyers being influenced by emotions, it’s often in the case of an impulse buy or a sappy commercial. But tapping into customer emotions can help you improve brand loyalty over the long run. While 94% of consumers say they would buy a retail brand’s product again, only 54% say the brand gives them something other brands cannot, according to ORC International’s Equity Framework study. By improving a customer’s mindset regarding the brand, retailers can bolster the loyalty of their buyers.
In the Equity Framework, which shows the interaction between the customers’ journey and loyalty, participants were asked a series of questions, including: “How likely are you to shop again at the same store?” “How likely are you to do more of your shopping at the same store?” “How likely are you to recommend the store to your family and friends?”
In our study across five world regions — US, UK, China, Singapore and Australia — over 5000 consumers were interviewed to better understand the impact customer emotions and experience have on the customers’ commitment towards the brand. The purpose of the study was to identify the impact of experience factors such as staff, store, product, etc. on the customers’ likelihood to stay and shop with the brand. The study was also designed to move beyond the functional aspects of customer experience and explore emotional engagement through goodwill towards a brand. Goodwill is the emotional reservoir a customer holds for a brand, in other words the affinity towards the brand which is built over time and through previous experiences, influences from friends, social media as well as exposure to competitors’ activities.
We found that the way the customer feels about the brand — his or her goodwill — significantly shapes loyalty and commitment. In fact, as goodwill increases it has the potential to influence brand recommendations and future shopping by as much as 10-30%.
How to spot goodwill
So having established the path between goodwill and loyalty the next step was to determine how a brand can create a reservoir of goodwill with its customers. Goodwill is an established belief in the following brand attributes:
- That the brand keeps its promises
- That the brand is flexible in its relationships with customers
- The sense of pride to be affiliated with the brand
Interestingly in the UK and China, a sign of goodwill is when the customer believes the brand cares about its customers and embodies similar values that the customer holds dear. Standout brands in the UK include: US customers develop a reservoir of goodwill when they feel they can trust the brand and believe it is responsive to their needs. Standout brands in the US include: USAA, Chick-fil-A, and Wegman’s.
What affects goodwill?
A customer’s goodwill is shaped by a strong and powerful engagement factor: customer fulfillment In order to achieve customer fulfillment, the organisation needs to understand three things:
- What do our customers expect and need?
- What makes an experience enjoyable?
- What is the easiest path to purchase?
Customer-centric organisations design customer experiences and journeys with these 3 questions in mind.
Share brand sentiment
Our research reveals that customers will recommend a brand through word of mouth and on social media when they feel their needs were fulfilled. Loyalty and goodwill are such strong influencers that they can drive purchasing decisions to a greater degree than the actual price of the product or service, as this Harvard Business Review article explains. According to the publication, loyalty is the byproduct of emotion (in other words, the goodwill) and isn’t necessarily measured by the amount spent or frequency of purchases.
Customer fulfillment in the retail industry is one of only two drivers of goodwill. By ensuring customers are fulfilled, a brand can increase customer loyalty — and sales will follow.
To drive goodwill and therefore loyalty it is important to be able to monitor and affect goodwill. As a company ask yourselves:
- How do we build a reservoir of goodwill with our customers?
- What influences our customers’ goodwill?
- How do we proactively achieve customer fulfillment?
- How are we measuring and monitoring our customers’ goodwill?