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Mila D'Antonio | April 11, 2012

Waking Up to Customer Loyalty in April

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April is customer loyalty month, a 30-day wake-up call for companies to realize that engaging customers one-on-one in stores, through social media, and in marketing communications can have far-reaching effects on customer loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and increased sales.

To highlight customer loyalty month, ClickFox conducted a brand loyalty survey, and the results shed light on the key customer loyalty drivers. One theme resonated trhoughout: Quality and customer service are most important to consumers in gaining and retaining customer loyalty. In fact:

• Eighty-eight percent of respondents indicated that quality is a key factor in their decision to remain loyal to a brand; 72 percent identified customer service as a top priority.

• Eighty-seven percent of consumers indicated that they would tolerate more from certain companies or brands, such as paying more for a name brand. Seventy-seven percent of respondents noted that a company's commitment to quality would cause them to tolerate more from a company, while 62 percent said customer service would cause them to tolerate more.

• Forty-eight percent of respondents said that the most critical time for a company to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase or begin service.

• Seventy-eight percent said they spread word of mouth about the brands that they love.

• Fifty-four percent of respondents would consider increasing the amount of business they do with a company for a loyalty reward, however62 percent said that brands are not doing enough to reward their loyalty.

Additionally, 20 percent singled out Apple as the brand they could not live without. Other top choices included Starbucks, Amazon, Target, Microsoft, Google, and Coca-Cola.

These results show that consumers have come to expect quality and service. Many companies are missing the mark when it comes to fostering and rewarding loyalty. The brands that focus on quality and service, as well as recognize and reward customers who frequently spend money with them and spread positive word of mouth, will not only garner more loyal customers; they'll differentiate themselves from their competitors.

So use the next 19 days, to reenergize your workforce: retrain, rehire, reintroduce policies and procedures. Empower your employees to rectify any problems or issues that customers may have and to reward them for their business. You owe it to your customers.

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