Are We Forcing Customers to NOT BE LOYAL?

Whenever the words CUSTOMER LOYALTY are uttered, one tends to hear some consistent themes.

·Customers are not loyal due to poor customer service/experience.

·Price drives customers from one brand, store or product to the next.

·The lack of a relationship with the customer leads to a lack of loyalty.

All this is true, but there is a piece of the Customer Loyalty puzzle that is notably missing. This piece is the correlation between product/service changes and customer loyalty. Yes, customers can be (and are) loyal to particular brands or companies, regardless of the products/services offered, but the original product or service was likely the primary reason for their loyalty.

Lately I’ve seen and heard of more and more companies trying to “change it up” for one reason or another and in the process, alienating their loyal fans. They change designs, recipes, functions and even eliminate well-loved products all together. Let’s review a few examples:

·Lindt’s 70% Chocolate. Lindt changed their recipe in the USA in late 2010. Fans (myself included) felt betrayed and abandoned as they wondered through the chocolate section looking for a replacement. Since Lindt didn’t have a replacement, this meant looking for a new brand altogether.

·Starbucks or Seattle’s Best coffee for the Tassimo coffee maker. For some, the coffee selection was the number one reason they purchased the Tassimo machine. With the elimination of these two popular brands of coffee from the line, even loyal users will be looking to replace their Tassimo coffee maker.

·The original Body Shop hair brush with a flexible rubber backing and coated metal bristles has been replaced by a plastic version. A plastic brush is rarely better than the more durable metal pin cushion brush. What do you think happened to loyal buyers of the original brush. Yep, they went seeking another brand outside of the Body Shop.

·Finally, your favorite food dish. When was the last time you were disappointed to discover your favorite dish had been replaced at a restaurant? I still hear from family and friends who lament that Lemon Chicken was pulled off the menu at Big Bowl. Many of these people no longer go to Big Bowl or go less frequently because their favorite dish is not available.

Whether due to profits, an overly zealous marketing team, change in ownership or other unknown factors, these companies let their loyal customers down and literally FORCED them to NOT BE LOYAL. So the next time you’re thinking “changing things up” and removing, replacing or changing a product or service, check with number one (your customers). You may be surprised to find that a seemingly simple change can make a big impact on your customers’ loyalty.

 

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Comments

  1. Strategy E-ssentials says:

    Excellent point Teea. I don’t think you should not change, just take your customers into consideration before you change. Too many companies change without thinking about the customer.