Building customer equity: How to create addicted customers

This sample chapter on building customer equity and loyalty, from "Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company," offers tips on attracting customers who will remain loyal to your business.

 

Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company

Excerpted with permission from "Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company," authored by John Todor, Copyright 2007. Published by Silverado Press. ISBN 1934198323. For more information about this book and other similar titles, please visit www.addictedcustomers.com.

What are Addicted Customers?

For most people, fulfilling basic needs is easy to accomplish. Increasingly, customers value opportunities to reduce stress in their lives; moreover, they want to become engaged in meaningful experiences and to become immersed in authentic relationships. When a business offers an emotionally and psychologically fulfilling experience, customers will scrimp elsewhere to enable them to splurge on the desired offering. They do so because of the total experience, not just the product.

Yet, most businesses are focused on selling "things." They have a focus on sales and market share and compete by exceeding competitors' offers. The upshot is that this "competitiveness" encourages customers to shop on price and to shop around. This works against loyalty. Loyalty comes from delivering what customers value, something they find meaningful, not just utilitarian.

This is a challenging situation that requires new strategies to deliver the experiential value customers seek. The foundation of these strategies must be based on the psychology underlying the behavior of today's customers. It is important to understand how they arrive at decisions, and how their decisions are tempered by current marketplace dynamics and the demands of contemporary lifestyles. Creating addicted customers is a metaphor for the process of delivering what today's customers value and engaging them in customer experiences that are emotionally and psychologically gratifying. These are the types of experiences that stimulate desire and as a consequence, lead to committed customer relationships. This is "how to get them hooked on your company."

The Two Distinct Buying Personalities

Customers have two distinct buying personalities: indifferent and engaged. The personality that surfaces during particular buying decisions depends on the type of value customers seek. Most businesses are optimized to sell to the indifferent personality. In this buying mindset, customers are focused on practical features such as price and convenience. As a consequence, customers' relationships with sellers are often adversarial. Customers are interested in acquiring products to fulfill well-defined, basic needs. They want means-to-an-end and they want them at the best combination of low price and convenience. They have tasks to complete and there are minimal standards of functionality, but beyond that, it is price and convenience. In this mindset, customers are emotionally indifferent to the products or the tasks those products serve. Batteries are bought so flashlights work. In these situations customers become indifferent to the purchase process as well as indifferent to the products. Or they become adversarial -- they try to get as much as they can for the lowest price. They want the purchase process to be a non-experience. They want to extract the greatest tangible value at the lowest possible price. There is no inherent basis for loyalty.

The engaged personality emerges when customers are emotionally and psychologically engaged in the buying experience, and when this engagement is motivated by desire. Certainly, "engaged" customers may buy tangible goods or services that serve utilitarian purposes. However, customers increasingly value the shopping experience for its own sake, and want to be immersed in the emotional and psychological consequences of the experience surrounding a product.

Companies that support them in this quest strengthen the relationships and this ultimately translates to customers with high lifetime value -- in short, those companies accrue customer equity.

The following "tale of two purchases" illustrates the distinction between the two primary buying personalities and their impact on the ability of businesses to create addicted customers.

Read more in the rest of sample chapter 1: What are Addicted Customers?

Read other excerpts and download more sample chapters from our CRM and call center bookshelf

To purchase the book or other similar titles, please visit www.addictedcustomers.com.

This was first published in April 2007

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