Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Drivers for e-Loyalty

Last week I wrote a blog about e-Loyalty. I would like to add some additional information to the e-Loyalty model by describing what, I believe, are some of the key drivers. It is always easy to say the drivers for e-Loyalty are the same as the drivers for face-to-face loyalty. That might be easy to say but it certainly is not correct.

When we are dealing face-to-face with customers the three components of loyalty are the product, the process and the people that represent the company. I believe the same components are there for e-Loyalty but with some additional considerations.

1. The PRODUCT has to have the same or better value proposition as the product that can be handled. When customers use the internet the company can offer a large set of choices without carrying the inventory, can provide warranties and well-known brands. The first component is still the competitive product.
2. The SERVICE PROCESS has the same name as the face-to-face service except the website and the technology replace the service process. Instead of a person there to answer questions, the web must provide fast page loads, an easy to navigate browser, language options, effective search functions, and a quick shopping checkout process.
3. The CUSTOMER SERVICE may or may not include contact with a real person. Some web sites do have a contact button that will immediately transfer to a real person. In this case, the customer service process has the same characteristics as a call center. Without the direct connect to customer service, customer service becomes the typical customer service function which handles customer inquiries, warranty administration, and problems that are not answered by the web site FAQs.

The main reason I am discussing these e-Loyalty components is the additional consideration of the website characteristics and the technology that are not necessary with face-to-face business but become critical on the web. The web site becomes a process that provides fast response to customer inquiries (usually through the net) and is easy to contact, provides an easy payment method (such as Pay-Pal), and provides delivery options from very fast at extra cost to snail mail at the lowest cost.

A secondary reason for discussing web loyalty is the aspect of trust and security for the web site. Trust and security are rarely a concern when dealing face-to-face with customers. On the web there is the concern for privacy and trust. Reputation becomes significant (who wants to spend money on an unknown; yes, I know there are many who do, but they generally do it irresponsibly). There is also the requirement for authentication in both directions. We know there are many hoaxes and scams on the web and that should alert every customer to be wary of an unknown site.

The bottom line is the web is a great selling tool and can be used effectively to build customer loyalty; however, it must be designed to incorporate the additional features of customer service along with web trust and security that are not necessary in the world of face-to-face business.

No comments:


web visitor stats
OptiPlex 755 Desktops