Why Standard Customer Metrics May No Longer Work
Over the weeks and months ahead we will begin to see the gradual re-opening of the economy with a degree of social distancing depending on your country of residence. Metrics that have typically defined customer loyalty may not be relevant to this new reality. Academics and practitioners are both aligned in their thinking that there is likely to be a re-ordering of what will define customer loyalty behind the standard metrics of customer satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, and share of wallet, among others. Some go so far as to theorize that brand loyalty may become a think of the past as consumers battle with less discretionary spending and an increasing focus on health and wellbeing.
In determining what the new dynamics might be, however, it is prudent for brands to start looking at customer perceptions and behaviors by assessing which ones are:
- Critical now and will have a lasting impact
- Critical now, but will not have a lasting impact
- Typically important, but not in the current context
What are the most relevant customer metrics in today’s environment?
In order to answer this question, the best place to start is to take a look at the barriers, whether they are real or merely perceived, that customers may have in accessing your brand, product, or service. In the traditional sense, it is believed that low barriers can result in higher loyalty and conversely, high barriers in lower loyalty. If we look at a somewhat obvious barrier, we can see that soap products likely had a high degree of brand loyalty pre-COVID but such has been the demand for such products over the last few months, it was the available brand, not the favored brand which got purchased.
Over the next few months, we are likely to witness a growing shift in consumer purchase and usage patterns. Availability will continue to have affected customer behaviors thereby impacting overall brand perceptions, loyalty, and future purchase behavior.
But beyond availability then, brands need to ask themselves how these other potential drivers may shift in consumer priority, particularly when it comes to engagement;
- Product Quality
- Ease of Purchase
- Customer Service
- Digital Presence and Overall Social Awareness
Significant swaths of customers’ economic and social well-being have been completely upended as a result of COVID. Customers are now expecting brands to show more of social conscience as we move onto the next stage of existence, even if this had not been on their radar prior to the pandemic.
Brands need to be wise and revise the metrics used to understand what drivers are critical now and will continue to have a lasting impact and those which may have an impact in the short term but which will return to relative normality once the situation eases.
What we can be sure of however is that shifts in customer usage and purchase patterns, time spent with brands, and other new dynamics will likely impact engagement and loyalty both in the short term and the long term. It is time for brands to wise up and act fast.