Friday, August 24, 2007

Customer Turnoffs - Another Perspective of Loyalty

I think Paul Timm, professor at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management and author of the book "Seven Power strategies for Building Customer Loyalty" has taken a different course in his research into customer loyalty than others who are researching the topic. He has focused his research for a number of years on surveying business customers and consumers by asking them "what turns you off as a customer?"

He has found that the responses boil down to a disconnect between service intentions and reality. The fact that customer expectations are not met is generally the result of the company failing to met their own performance levels that they established.

It is amazing that it takes only three categories of customer turnoffs to account for 97% of all responses.

The first turnoff: VALUE. The customers perceives that they are not getting what they paid for. This could include inadequate guarantees, inferior quality, and high prices relative to the perceived value of the product. (this is an excellent description of the product dimension of customer loyalty - as described in a previous blog)

The second turnoff: SYSTEMS PERFORMANCE. When systems do not meet customer expectations, customers experience a systems turnoff. This could look like transactions or processes that are unnecessarily complicated or inefficient. It could look like employees who lack the knowledge to answer customer questions. The number one system process problem noted by Timm is slow service. (the process dimension of customer loyalty also described previously).

The third turnoff: PEOPLE. Companies are composed of people and when those employees lack courtesy or attention, demonstrate inappropriate or unprofessional behavior or have an indifferent attitude, customers are definitely turned off. All these characteristics can be summed up by any behaviour that conveys a lack of care or consideration for the customer. (the relationship dimension of customer loyalty also described previously).

The bottom line is that Professor Timm's research is consistent with my previous blog that characterized the three real components of customer loyalty as product, process and relationship. The good news is that he discoved these factors by looking at customers from the negative side.

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