The brands that top the charts in customer experience are also winning the loyalty battle.
Forrester Research recently released its list of top brands for customer service. Surveying over 4600 U.S. consumers about their customer experiences, Barnes and Noble topped the list. Others making the top five were Marriott Hotels, Hampton Inn, Amazon and Holiday Inn Express. At the bottom of the list were Charter Communications, United Healthcare and Citigroup. (A complete list can be seen here).
It’s always interesting to see how consumers rate businesses in regard to their customer service experiences. And to examine what businesses do to improve their customer service. It’s also interesting to see the correlation between customer service and other brand attributes.
One thing we know is there is a strong correlation between customer experience and brand loyalty. Those companies that deliver superior customer service also build strong brand loyalty. The brand image and perception are largely determined at the point it interacts with the customer. Brand loyalty is determined at the point of customer contact.
As hospital marketers, this is invaluable information. We often put our emphasis on technology, convenience, services and a host of other things. But how much emphasis are we putting on that point of customer contact? What is happening when our brand interacts with the patient and the patient’s family? Brand loyalty is being determined at those random points of contact. The future of our brand is determined during these interactions.
This is undoubtedly the most difficult thing to control. There are so many within our organization that have contact with the patient and each one of them can make or break the experience. It’s very difficult to control all of these contacts. But it is imperative that we create a culture, an environment, where there is consistent attention and a strong emphasis on positive customer service. Yes technology, convenience, services and a host of other things are important, but in a consumer-directed economy, customer service is at the top. The customer experience will determine how our brand is viewed and if there is any brand loyalty.
Barnes and Noble and the other companies at the top of the list make great effort to create a customer-friendly atmosphere and attempt to deliver the highest level of customer service. They make it their corporate culture. The future of our own brand largely depends on how well we create that culture within our organizations.