Calculate the lifetime value (LTV) of a loyal customer. Understand why customers are loyal to a particular service firm. Know the core strategies of the Wheel of Loyalty that explain how to develop a loyal customer base. Appreciate why it is so important for service firms to target the “right” customers. Use service tiering to manage the customer base and build loyalty. Understand the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty. Know how to deepen the relationship through cross-selling and bundling.
Understand the role of financial and non-financial loyalty rewards in enhancing customer loyalty. customization, and structural bonds in enhancing loyalty. LO 2 LO 3 LO 4 LO 8 LO 9 LO 10 Appreciate the power of social, LO 5 LO 11 Understand what factors LO 6 cause customers to switch to a competitor, and how to reduce such switching. by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems in delivering customized services and building loyalty. LO 12 Understand the part played Figure 12. 1 Fromhigh-rollerstocasualgamblers,the glitteringlightsofHarrah’spromisecustomersatisfaction. 58 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty OPENINGVIGNETTE Harrah’s Entertainment’s Customer Relationship Management1 Harrah’s Entertainment is the world’s largest gaming company with its four main brands Harrah’s, Caesar’s, Horseshoe, and the London Clubs family of casinos. It is a leader in the use of highly sophisticated loyalty programs. Harrah’s was first to launch a tiered customer loyalty program in the gaming industry. Today, it has four tiers in its loyalty program—Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Seven Stars (by invitation only).
The program is integrated across all its properties and services. Customers identify themselves (and earn points) at every touchpoint throughout the company, ranging from its gaming tables, restaurants, and hotels, to the gift shops and shows. The points collected can be used to obtain cash, merchandise, lodging, show tickets, vacations, and events. What is special about Harrah’s is not its loyalty program, but what it does with the information gleaned about its customers when they use their cards to earn points.
At the back end, Harrah’s has linked all its databases from casino management, hotel reservations, and events to allow it to have a holistic view of each of its customers. Harrah’s now has detailed data on over 42 million customers and knows each customer’s preferences and behaviors. These range from how much they spend on each type of game and their likes in food and drinks, to entertainment and lodging preferences. All this information about the customer is captured in real time. Harrah’s uses this data to drive its marketing and on-site customer service.
For example, if a Diamond card holder on slot machine 278 signals for service, a Harrah’s associate is able to ask, “The usual, Mr. Jones? ” and then track the time it takes for a server to fill the guest’s request. In another example, when a customer wins a jackpot, Harrah’s can tailor a customerspecific reward to celebrate that win. Harrah’s also knows when a customer is approaching his maximum gaming limit on a particular evening and when Figure 12. 2 Harrah’shitsthe the customer is likely jackpotwithitstechnological to stop playing. Just innovationindeveloping before the limit is customerrelationships. eached, Harrah’s can offer him a heavily discounted ticket in real time via text message for a show with available seats. This keeps the customer on the premises (and spending) and makes him feel valued as he gets a very special deal just when he wanted to stop playing. At the same time, it uses otherwise wasted capacity in Harrah’s shows and restaurants. Likewise, when a customer makes a call to its call center, the staff will have detailed real-time information about a customer’s preferences and spending habits, and can then tailor promotions that cross-sell or up-sell its services.
Harrah’s does not do blanket promotions that target all its customers at the same time, which is, according to Harrah’s Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Loveman, “a margin eroding nightmare” Rather, it uses highly targeted . promotions that create the right incentives for each of its different customers. It also uses control groups to measure the success of a promotion in dollars and cents and to further fine-tune its campaigns. With its data-driven customer relationship management (CRM), Harrah’s is able to transform customer interactions into personal and differentiated ones. As a esult, Harrah’s increased the share-of-wallet of its Harrah’s Total Rewards card holders to an impressive 50% plus, up from 34% before its CRM program was implemented. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 359 PART IV THE SEARCH FOR CUSTOMER LOYALTY T argeting, acquiring, and retaining the “right” customers is at the core of many successful service firms. In Chapter 3, we discussed segmentation and positioning. In this chapter, we emphasize the importance of focusing on desirable, loyal customers within the chosen segments and then building and maintaining their loyalty through carefully planned relationship marketing strategies.
The objectives are to build relationships and to develop loyal customers who will do a growing volume of business with the firm in the future. Loyalty in a business context describes a customer’s willingness to continue buying from a firm over the long term and recommending the firm’s products to friends and associates. Customer loyalty does not just refer to customer behavior. It also includes preference, liking, and future intentions. “Few companies think of customers as annuities,” says Frederick Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect, and a major researcher in this field. However, that is what a loyal customer can mean to a firm—a regular source of revenue over a period of many years. The active management of the customer base and customer loyalty is also referred to as customer asset management. 3 In a marketing context, the term defection is used to describe customers who stop buying and transfer their brand loyalty to another supplier. Reichheld and Sasser made the term zero defections popular. Zero defections means keeping every customer the company can serve profitably. Not only does a rising defection rate show that something is wrong with quality (or that competitors offer better value), it may also be showing a fall in profits. Big customers do not disappear overnight. They often may show their increasing dissatisfaction by steadily reducing their purchases and shifting part of their business elsewhere. LO 1 Recognize the important role customer loyalty plays in driving a service firm’s profitability. Why Is Customer Loyalty so Important to a Firm’s Profitability? How much is a loyal customer worth in terms of profits?
Reichheld and Sasser analyzed the profit per customer in different service businesses. It was grouped by the number of years that a customer had been with the firm. 5 They found that the longer customers remained with a firm in each of these industries, the more profitable they became. Annual profit increases per customer as shown in Figure 12. 3 for a few sample industries. The industries studied (with average profits from a first-year customer shown in parentheses) were credit cards ($30), industrial laundry ($144), industrial distribution ($45), and automobile servicing ($25). The same loyalty effect was found in the Internet context.
It usually took more than a year to recover customer acquisition costs, and profits then increased as customers stayed longer with the firm. 6 Reichheld and Sasser state that there are four factors that cause this growth. These factors are: 1. Profit derived from increased purchases (or, in a credit card and banking environment, higher account balances). Over time, business customers often 360 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty 400 350 300 Profit Index (year 1 = 100) 250 200 150 100 50 0 Year 1 Industrial Laundry Year 2 Credit Card Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Auto Servicing Industrial Distribution
Figure 12. 3 Howmuchprofitacustomergeneratesovertime. Source Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review from Frederick J. Reichheld and W. Earl Sasser Jr. , “Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services” Harvard Business Review 73 (Sept–Oct 1990), 108. Copyright © 1990 by the Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. grow larger and so need to purchase in greater quantities. Individuals may also purchase more as their families grow or as they become more affluent. Both types of customers may be willing to combine their purchases with a single supplier who provides high quality service. 2.
Profit from reduced operating costs. As customers become more experienced, they make fewer demands on the supplier (for instance, they have less need for information and assistance, and make more use of self-service options). They may also make fewer mistakes when involved in operational processes. This contributes to greater productivity. Profit from referrals to other customers. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations are like free sales and advertising, saving the firm from having to invest as much money in these activities. Profit from price premium. New customers often benefit from introductory promotional discounts.
Long-term customers, however, are more likely to pay regular prices, and when they are highly satisfied they tend to be less pricesensitive. 7 Moreover, customers who trust a supplier may be more willing to pay higher prices at peak periods or for express work. 3. 4 Figure 12. 4 shows the relative contribution of each of these different factors over a seven-year period, based on an analysis of 19 different product categories (both goods and services). Reichheld argues that the economic benefits of customer loyalty noted above often explain why one firm is more profitable than a competitor.
Assessing the Value of a Loyal Customer It’s a mistake to assume that loyal customers are always more profitable than those who make one-time transactions. 8 Loyal customers may not spend more than oneDevelopingCustomerRelationships 361 PART IV Key Profit from Price Premium Profit from References Profit from Reduced Operating Costs Profit from Increased Usage Base Profit Loss 1 2 3 4 Year 5 6 7 Figure 12. 4 Whycustomersaremoreprofitableovertime. Source Why Customers Are More Profitable Over Time from Frederick J. Reichheld and W. Earl Sasser Jr. Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services,” Harvard Business Review 73 (Sept–Oct 1990), 108. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business School. time buyers, and in some instances, they may even expect price discounts. Also, profits do not necessarily increase with time for all types of customers. 9 In most mass market business-to-customer (B2C) services—such as banking, mobile phone services, and hospitality—customers cannot negotiate prices. However, in many B2B contexts, large customers have a lot of bargaining power and therefore will nearly always try to negotiate lower prices when contracts come up for renewal.
This forces suppliers to share the cost savings resulting from doing business with large, loyal customers. DHL has found that although each of its major accounts generates significant business, they yield below average margins. In contrast, DHL’s smaller, less powerful accounts provide significantly higher profitability (Figure 12. 5). 10 Recent studies have also shown that the profit impact of a customer may vary a lot depending on the stage of the service product lifecycle. For nstance, referrals by satisfied customers and negative word-of-mouth from “defected” customers have a much greater effect on profit in the early stages of the service product’s lifecycle than in later stages, where the focus is much more on generating cash flow from the existing customer base instead of new customers. 11 Some of the challenges that you will probably face in your work are to determine the costs and revenues associated with serving customers to different market segments at different points in their customer lifecycles, and to predict future profitability.
For insights on how to calculate customer value, see the box, “Worksheet for Calculating Customer Lifetime Value. ”12 Figure 12. 5 DHLprices differentlyfordifferentmarket segments. 362 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty Worksheet for Calculating Customer Lifetime Value13 LO 2 Calculate the lifetime value (LTV) of a loyal customer. Calculating customer value is an inexact science that is subject to a variety of assumptions. You may want to try varying these assumptions to see how it affects the final figures.
Generally speaking, revenues per customer are easier to track on an individualized basis than are the associated costs of serving a customer, unless (1) no individual records are kept and/or (2) the accounts served are very large and all account-related costs are individually documented and assigned. Acquisition Revenues Less Costs If individual account records are kept, the initial application fee paid and initial purchase (if relevant) should be found in these records.
Costs, by contrast, may have to be based on average data. For instance, the marketing cost of acquiring a new client can be calculated by dividing the total marketing costs (advertising, promotions, selling, etc. ) devoted toward acquiring new customers by the total number of new customers acquired during the same period. If each acquisition takes place over an extended period of time, you may want to build in a lagged effect between when marketing expenditures are incurred and when new customers come on board.
The cost of credit checks— where relevant—must be divided by the number of new customers, not the total number of applicants, because some applicants will probably fail this hurdle. Account setup costs will also be an average figure in most organizations. Annual Revenues and Costs If annual sales, account fees, and service fees are documented on an individual-account basis, account Acquisition Initial Revenue Application feea Initial purchasea Total Revenues Initial Costs Marketing Credit checka Account setupa Less total costs Net Profit (Loss) a b evenue streams (except referrals) can be easily identified. The first priority is to segment your customer base by the length of its relationship with your firm. Depending on the sophistication and precision of your firm’s records, annual costs in each category may be directly assigned to an individual account holder or averaged for all account holders in that age category. Value of Referrals Computing the value of referrals requires a variety of assumptions.
To get started, you may need to conduct surveys to determine (1) what percentage of new customers claim that they were influenced by a recommendation from another customer and (2) what other marketing activities also drew the firm to that individual’s attention. From these two items, estimates can be made of what percentage of the credit for all new customers should be assigned to referrals. Additional research may be needed to clarify whether “older” customers are more likely to be effective recommenders than “younger” ones.
Net Present Value Calculating net present value (NPV) from a future profit stream will require choice of an appropriate annual discount figure. (This could reflect estimates of future inflation rates. ) It also requires assessment of how long the average relationship lasts. The NPV of a customer, then, is the sum of the anticipated annual profit on each customer for the projected relationship lifetime, suitably discounted each year into the future. Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year n Annual Revenues Annual account feea Sales Service feesa Value of referralsb
Annual Costs Account management Cost of sales Write-offs (e. g. , bad debts) If applicable. Anticipated profits from each new customer referred (could be limited to the first year or expressed as the net present value of the estimated future stream of profits through year n); this value could be negative if an unhappy customer starts to spread negative word-ofmouth that causes existing customers to defect. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 363 PART IV LO 3 Understand why customers are loyal to a particular service firm.
Why Are Customers Loyal? After understanding how important loyal customers can be for the bottom line of a service firm, let’s explore what it is that makes a customer loyal. Customers are not automatically loyal to any one firm. Rather, we need to give our customers a reason to combine their buying with only us and then staying with us. We need to create value for them to become and remain loyal. Just ask yourself: What service companies are you loyal to? And why are you loyal to these firms?
Research has shown that relationships can create value for individual consumers through such factors as inspiring greater confidence, offering social benefits, and providing special treatment (see Service Insights 12. 1). We will next discuss how we can systematically think about creating value for our loyal customers using the Wheel of Loyalty. SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 1 How Customers See Relational Benefits in Service Industries What benefits do customers see themselves receiving from an extended relationship with a service firm? Researchers seeking answers to this question conducted two studies.
The first consisted of in-depth interviews with 21 respondents from a broad cross-section of backgrounds. Respondents were asked to identify service providers that they used on a regular basis and invited to identify and discuss any benefits they received as a result of being a regular customer. Among the comments were: • “Ilikehim[hairstylist]…He’sreallyfunnyand always has lots of good jokes. He’s kind of like a friend now. ” • “IknowwhatI’mgetting—IknowthatifIgo to a restaurant that I regularly go to, rather than take a chance on all of the new restaurants, the food will be good. ” • “Ioftengetpricebreaks.
Thelittlebakerythat I go to in the morning, every once in a while, they’ll give me a free muffin and say, ‘You’re a good customer, it’s on us today. ’” • “You can get better service than drop-in customers … We continue to go to the same automobile repair shop because we have gotten to know the owner on a kind of personal basis, andhe…canalwaysworkusin. ” • “Oncepeoplefeelcomfortable,theydon’twant to switch to another dentist. They don’t want to train or break a new dentist in. ” Source After evaluating and grouping the comments, the researchers designed a second study in which they collected 299 survey questionnaires.
Results showed that most of the benefits that customers derived from relationships could be grouped into three categories. The first, and most important, group involved what the researchers labeled confidence benefits, followed by social benefits, and special treatment. • Confidence benefits included feelings by customers that in an established relationship, there was less risk of something going wrong, greater confidence in correct performance, and the ability to trust the provider. Customers experienced lowered anxiety when purchasing because they knew what to expect, and they typically received the firm’s highest level of service. Social benefits included mutual recognition between customers and employees, being known by name, friendship with the service provider, and enjoyment of certain social aspects of the relationship. • Special treatment benefits included better prices, discounts on special deals that were unavailable to most customers, extra services, higher priority when there was a wait, and faster service than most customers. Kevin P. Gwinner, Dwayne D. Gremler, and Mary Jo Bitner, “Relational Benefits in Services Industries: The Customer’s Perspective,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 26, no. (1998): 101–114. 364 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty THE WHEEL OF LOYALTY LO 4 Know the core strategies of the Wheel of Loyalty that explain how to develop a loyal customer base. B u uilding customer loyalty is difficult. Just try and think of all the service firms you yourself are loyal to. You are likely to only come up with very few examples. This shows that, although firms spend huge amounts of money and effort on building loyalty, they often are not successful in building true customer loyalty. We use the Wheel of Loyalty shown in Figure 12. as an organizing framework for thinking of how to build customer loyalty. It is made up of three sequential strategies. First, the firm needs a solid foundation for creating customer loyalty that includes targeting the right portfolio of customer segments, attracting the right customers, tiering the service, and delivering high levels of satisfaction. Second, to truly build loyalty, a firm needs to develop close bonds with its customers. It can either deepen the relationship through cross-selling and bundling, or add value to the customer through loyalty rewards and higher-level bonds.
Third, the firm needs to identify and reduce the factors that result in “churn”, the loss of existing customers and the need to replace them with new ones. u u We discuss each of the components of the Wheel of Loyalty in the sections that follow. 3. Reduce Churn Drivers • Conduct churn diagnostic and monitor declining/churning customers. • Address key churn drivers: – Proactive retention measures – Reactive retention measures (e. g. , save teams) • Put effective complaint handling and service recovery processes in place. • Increase switching costs. 1. Build a Foundation for Loyalty
Enabled through: • Frontline staff • Account managers • Membership programs • CRM Systems • Be selective: Acquire customers who fit the core value proposition. • Manage the customer base via effective tiering of service. • Deliver quality service. Customer Loyalty • Build higher-level bonds: – Social – Customization – Structural 2. Create Loyalty Bonds • Give loyalty rewards: – Financial – Nonfinancial – Higher-tier service levels – Recognition and appreciation • Deepen the relationship via: – Cross-selling – Bundling Figure 12. 6 TheWheelofLoyalty. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 365
PART IV • Segment the market to match customer needs and firm capabilities. BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR LOYALTY M LO 5 Appreciate why it is so important for service firms to target the “right” customers. any elements are involved in creating long-term customer relationships and loyalty. In Chapter 3 we discussed segmentation and positioning. In this section, we emphasize the importance of focusing on serving several desirable customer segments and then building and maintaining their loyalty through carefully thought-out relationship marketing strategies. Targeting the Right Customers
Loyalty management starts with segmenting the market to match customer needs and firm capabilities; in short, identify and target the right customers. “Who should we be serving? ” is a question that every service business needs to ask regularly. Companies need to choose their target segments carefully and match them to what the firm can deliver. Managers must think carefully about how customer needs relate to such operational elements as speed and quality, the times when service is available, the firm’s capacity to serve many customers all at once, and the physical features and appearance of service facilities.
They also need to consider how well their service personnel can meet the expectations of specific types of customers, in terms of both personal style and technical ability. 14 Finally, they need to ask themselves whether their company can match or exceed competing services that are directed at the same types of customers (Figure 12. 7). The result of carefully targeting customers by matching the company capabilities and strengths with customer needs should be a superior service offering in the eyes of those customers who value what the firm has to offer.
As Frederick Reichheld said, “…theresultshouldbeawin-winsituation,whereprofitsareearnedthroughthe success and satisfaction of customers, and not at their expense. ”15 Searching for Value, Not Just Volume Figure 12. 7 Acompanythat isabletoexceedcustomer expectationswillwintheir loyalty. Too many service firms continue to focus on the number of customers they serve without giving sufficient attention to the value of each customer. 16 Generally speaking, heavy users who buy more frequently and in larger volumes are more profitable than occasional users.
Service customers who buy strictly based on lowest price (a minority in most markets) are not good target customers for relationship marketing. They are deal-prone, continuously seek the lowest price on offer, and switch brands easily. Loyalty leaders are choosy about acquiring only the right customers. Getting the right customers can bring in long-term revenues and continued growth from referrals. It can also enhance satisfaction from employees whose daily jobs are improved when they can deal with appreciative customers.
Firms that are highly focused and selective in their customer acquisition—rather than those that focus on getting new customers without being selective—tend to show rapid growth over long periods. 17 Service Insights 12. 2 shows how the Vanguard Group, a leader in the mutual funds industry, designed its products and pricing to attract and retain the right customers for its business model. Different segments offer different value for a service firm. Like investments, some types of customers may be more profitable than others in the short term, but others 366 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty
SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 2 Vanguard Discourages the Acquisition of “Wrong” Customers The Vanguard Group is a growth leader in the mutual fund industry that built its $1. 6 trillion in managed assets by 2011 through carefully targeting the right customers for its business model. Its share of new sales, which was around 25%, reflected its share of assets or market share. However, it had a far lower share of redemptions (customer defections in the fund context), which gave it a market share of net cash flows of 55% (new sales minus redemptions), and made it the fastest-growing mutual fund in its industry.
How did Vanguard achieve such low redemption rates? The secret was in its careful customer acquisition, and its product and pricing strategies, which encouraged the acquisition of the “right” customers. John Bogle, Vanguard’s founder, believed that the quality of index funds and their lower management fees would lead to higher returns over the long run. He offered Vanguard’s clients the lowest management fees through a policy of not trading (its index funds hold the market they are designed to track), not having a sales force, and spending only a small portion of what its competitors did on advertising.
Another important part of keeping its costs low was its aim to discourage the acquisition of customers who were not long-term index holders. Bogle attributes the high customer loyalty Vanguard has achieved to a great deal of focus on customer defections or low redemption rates. Low redemption rates meant that the firm was attracting the right kind of loyal, long-term investors. The stability of its loyal customer base has been key to Vanguard’s cost advantage. When an institutional investor redeemed $25 million from an index fund bought only nine months earlier, he regarded the acquisition of this customer a failure of the system.
He explained, “We don’t want short-term investors. They muck up the game at the expense of the longterm investor. ” At the end of his chairman’s letter to the Vanguard Index Trust, Bogle repeated: “We Source urgethem[short-terminvestors]tolookelsewhere for their investment opportunities. ” This care and attention to acquiring the right customers is famous. For example, Vanguard once turned away an institutional investor who wanted to invest $40 million because the firm suspected that the customer would churn the investment within the next few weeks, creating extra costs for existing customers.
The potential customer complained to Vanguard’s CEO, who not only supported the decision, but also used it as an opportunity to remind his teams why they needed to be selective about the customers they accept. Furthermore, Vanguard introduced a number of changes to industry practices that discouraged active traders from buying its funds. For example, Vanguard did not allow telephone transfers for index funds, redemption fees were added to some funds, and the standard practice subsidizing new accounts at the expense of existing customers was rejected because the practice was considered as disloyal to its core investor base.
These product and pricing policies in effect turned away heavy traders, but made the fund extremely attractive for longterm investors. Finally, Vanguard’s pricing was set up to reward loyal customers. For many of its funds, investors pay a one-time fee upfront, which goes into the funds themselves to make up for all current investors for the administrative costs of selling new shares. This fee subsidizes long-term investors, and penalizes short-term investors. Adapted from Frederick F. Reichheld, Loyalty Rules! How Today’s Leaders Build Lasting Relationships.
Boston: MA, Harvard Business School Press, 2001, 24–29, 84–87, 144–145; www. vanguard. com, accessed on March 12, 2012. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 367 PART IV may have greater potential for long-term growth. Similarly, the spending patterns of some customers may be stable over time, while others may be varied, e. g. spending heavily in boom times but cutting back sharply in recessions. A wise marketer seeks a mix of segments in order to reduce the risks associated with variations in demand. 18 Finally, managers shouldn’t assume that the “right customers” are always big spenders.
Depending on the service business model, the right customers may come from a large group of people that no other supplier is doing a good job of serving. Many firms have built successful strategies on serving customer segments that had been neglected by established players, which didn’t see them as being “valuable” enough. Examples include Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which targets customers who need a temporary replacement car. It avoided the more traditional segment of business travelers targeted by its principal competitors.
Similarly, Charles Schwab focused on retail stock buyers, and Paychex provides small businesses with payroll and human resource services. 19 LO 6 Use service tiering to manage the customer base and build loyalty. Managing the Customer Base through Effective Tiering of Service Marketers should adopt a strategic approach to retaining, upgrading, and even ending relationships with customers. Customer retention involves developing longterm, cost-effective links with customers for the mutual benefit of both parties. However, these efforts need not necessarily target all the customers in a firm with the same level of intensity.
Research has confirmed that customer profitability and return on sales can be increased by focusing a firm’s resources on top-tier customers. 20 Furthermore, different customer tiers often have quite different service expectations and needs. According to Valarie Zeithaml, Roland Rust, and Katharine Lemon, it is important for service firms to understand the needs of customers within different profitability tiers and adjust their service levels accordingly. 21 Zeithaml, Rust, and Lemon illustrate this principle through a four-level pyramid (Figure 12. 8).
Which segment sees high value in our offer, spends more with us over time, costs less to maintain, and spreads positive word-of-mouth? Good-Relationship Customers Platinum Gold Iron Which segment costs us in time, effort and money but does not provide the returns we want? Which segment is difficult to do business with? Lead Figure 12. 8 Thecustomer pyramid. Source Poor-Relationship Customers Valerie A. Zeithaml, Roland T. Rust, and Katherine N. Lemon “The Customer Pyramid: Creating and Serving Profitable Customers”, California Management Review 43, no. , Summer 2001, Figure 1, pp. 118–142 Copyright © 2001 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted by permission of The Regents for electronic posting add” All rights reserved. This article is for personal viewing by individuals accessing this site. It is not to be copied, reproduced, or otherwise disseminated without written permission from the California Management Review. By viewing this document, you hereby agree to these terms. For permission or reprints, contact: [email protected] berkeley. edu. 368 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty u Platinum.
These customers form a very small percentage of a firm’s customer base. They are heavy users and contribute a large share of the profits. This segment is usually less price sensitive, but expects highest service levels in return. They are likely to be willing to invest in and try new services. Gold. The gold tier includes a larger percentage of customers than the platinum. However, individual customers contribute less profit than platinum customers do. They tend to be slightly more price sensitive and less committed to the firm. Iron. These customers provide the bulk of the customer base.
Their numbers give the firm economies of scale. Hence, they are important so that a firm can build and maintain a certain capacity level and infrastructure, which are often needed for serving gold and platinum customers well. However, iron customers in themselves may only be marginally profitable. Their level of business is not enough to justify special treatment. Lead. Customers in this tier tend to generate low revenues for a firm. However, they often still require the same level of service as iron customers do. Therefore, from the firm’s perspective, they are frequently a loss-making segment. u u Tiering the service means that the firm delivers different services and service levels to different customer groups. The benefit features for platinum and gold customers should be designed to encourage them to remain loyal because these customers are the very ones competitors would like most to steal. Among loyal segments, the focus should be on developing and growing the relationship, perhaps via loyalty programs. 22 By contrast, among lead-tier customers at the bottom of the pyramid, the options are to either to move them to the iron segment (e. g. through increasing sales, increasing prices, and/or cutting servicing costs) or to end the relationship with them. Imposing a minimum balance or fee that is waived when a certain level of revenue is generated may encourage customers who use several suppliers to consolidate their buying with a single firm instead. Another way to move customers from the lead tier to iron is to encourage them to use low-cost service delivery channels. For instance, lead-tier customers may be charged a fee for face-to-face interactions but the fee is waived when such customers use electronic channels.
In the cellular telephone industry, for example, low-use mobile users can be encouraged to use prepaid packages that do not require the firm to send out bills and collect payment. This also reduces the risk of bad debts on such accounts. Divesting or terminating customers comes when the firm realizes that not all existing customer relationships are worth keeping. 23 Some relationships may no longer be profitable for the firm because they cost more to maintain than the contributions they generate. Some customers no longer fit the firm’s strategy either because that strategy has changed or because the customers’ behavior and needs have changed.
Occasionally, customers are “fired” outright. ING Direct is one such company that does so. It sells a no-frills type of consumer banking; it only has a handful of basic products, and it lures low-maintenance customers with no minimum balance nor fees and slightly higher interest rates (its Orange savings account paid 1. 5% in August 2010) (Figure 12. 9). To offset that generosity, its business model pushes its customers toward online transactions, and the bank routinely fires customers who don’t fit its business model. When a customer calls too often (the average customer phone call DevelopingCustomerRelationships
Figure 12. 9 INGDirectoffers highinterestratesthatkeep customershappy. 369 PART IV costs the bank $5. 25 to handle) or wants too many exceptions to the rule, the bank’s sales associates basically say: “Look, this doesn’t fit you. You need to go back to your community bank and get the kind of contact you’re comfortable with. ” As a result, ING Direct’s cost per account is only one-third of the industry average. 24 Each service firm needs to regularly examine its customer portfolio and consider ending unsuccessful relationships. Legal and ethical considerations, of course, will determine and how to take such actions.
For example, a bank may introduce a minimum monthly fee for accounts with a low balance (e. g. , below $1,000), but, for social responsibility considerations, waive this fee for customers on social security. LO 7 Understand the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality Are Prerequisites for Loyalty The foundation for building true loyalty lies in customer satisfaction. Highly satisfied or even delighted customers are more likely to consolidate their purchases, spread positive word-of-mouth, and become loyal advocates of a firm. 5 On the other hand, dissatisfaction drives customers away and is a key factor in switching behavior. Recent research even showed that increases in customer satisfaction lead to increases in stock prices. See Service Insights 12. 3. The satisfaction—loyalty relationship can be divided into three main zones: defection, indifference, and affection (Figure 12. 10). The zone of defection occurs at low satisfaction levels. Customers will switch unless switching costs are high or there are no other choices. Extremely dissatisfied customers can turn into ‘terrorists’ 00 80 LOYALTY (retention) 60 40 20 Terrorist 0 1 2 3 4 5 Apostle Zone of Affection Near Apostle Zone of Indifference Zone of Defection Very Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied SATISFACTION Satisfied Very Satisfied Figure 12. 10 Thecustomersatisfaction-loyaltyrelationship. Source Adapted from Thomas O. Jones and W. Earl Sasser, Jr. , “Why Satisfied Customers Defect,” Harvard Business Review, November-December 1995, p. 91. 370 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 3
Customer Satisfaction and Wall Street—High Returns and Low Risk! Does a firm’s customer satisfaction levels have anything to do with its stock price? This was the interesting research question Claes Fornell and his colleagues wanted to answer. More specifically, they examined whether investments in customer satisfaction led to excess stock returns. If so, were these returns associated with higher risks as would be predicted by finance theory? The researchers built two stock portfolios, one hypothetical back-dated portfolio and a realworld portfolio.
Both portfolios consisted only of firms that did Cancustomersatisfactiondatahelptooutperformthemarket? well in terms of their customer satisfaction ratings, as measured customers improve the level and the stability of cash by the American Customer Satisfaction Index flow. (ACSI). Their findings are striking for managers and investors alike! Fornell and his colleagues discovered For marketing managers, this study’s findings that ACSI was significantly related to stock prices of confirm that investments (or “expenses” if you talk the individual firms and outperformed the market. o accountants) in managing customer relationships However, simply publishing the latest data on the and the cash flows they produce increase a firm’s ACSI index did not immediately move share prices. value. Although the results are convincing, be Instead, share prices seemed to adjust slowly over careful if you want to invest in firms that show time, as firms published other results (perhaps high increases in customer satisfaction in future earnings data or other “hard” facts that may lag ACSI releases. Your finance friends will tell you customer satisfaction).
Therefore, acting faster than that efficient markets learn fast! You know this the market to changes in the ACSI index generated has happened when you see stock prices move as excess stock returns. The results are in line with a response to future ACSI releases. You can learn research in marketing, which holds that satisfied more about the ACSI at www. theacsi. org. Sources Claes Fornell, Sunil Mithas, Forrest V. Morgeson III, and M. S. Krishnan, “Customer Satisfaction and Stock Prices: High Returns, Low Risk,” Journal of Marketing 70 (January 2006): 3–14. Lerzan Aksoy, Bruce Cooil, Christopher Groening, Timothy L.
Keiningham, and Atakan Yalcin, “The Long-Term Stock Market Valuation of Customer Satisfaction,” Journal of Marketing 72, no. 4 (2008): 105–122. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 371 PART IV providing a lot of negative word-of-mouth for the service provider. 26 The zone of indifference is found at moderate satisfaction levels. Here, customers are willing to switch if they find a better choice. Finally, the zone of affection is located at very high satisfaction levels, where customers may have such high attitudinal loyalty that they do not look for alternative service providers.
Customers who praise the firm in public and refer others to the firm are described as “apostles. ” High satisfaction levels lead to improved future business performance. 27 STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING LOYALTY BONDS WITH CUSTOMERS H aving the right portfolio of customer segments, attracting the right customers, tiering the service, and delivering high levels of satisfaction are a solid foundation for creating customer loyalty as shown in the wheel of loyalty in Figure 12. 6. However, firms can do more to “bond” more closely with their customers.
Research shows that, when customers are loyal to a company, they are attracted to visit the company. However, once there, it is the loyalty program that will attract them to spend money. 28 Therefore, there is a need to have a variety of strategies to develop loyalty bonds with customers. Specific strategies include (1) deepening the relationship through cross-selling and bundling, (2) creating loyalty rewards, and (3) building higher-level bonds such as social, customization, and structural bonds. 29 We will discuss each of these three strategies next. LO 8
Know how to deepen the relationship through crossselling and bundling. Deepening the Relationship To build closer ties with its customers, firms can deepen the relationship through bundling and/or cross-selling services. For example, banks like to sell as many financial products to an account or household as possible. Once a family has its current account, credit card, savings account, safe deposit box, car loan, mortgage, etc. with the same bank, the relationship is so deep that switching becomes a major hassle. Therefore, customers are not likely to switch unless they are very dissatisfied with the bank.
In addition to higher switching costs, there is often also value for the customer too when buying all particular services from a single provider. One-stop shopping typically is more convenient and less hassle than buying individual services from different providers. When having many services with the same firm, the customer may achieve a higher service tier and receive better services, and sometimes service bundles do come with price discounts. LO 9 Understand the role of financial and nonfinancial loyalty rewards in enhancing customer loyalty.
Encouraging Loyalty through Financial and Nonfinancial Rewards Few customers buy only from only one supplier. This is especially true in situations where service delivery involves separate transactions (such as a car rental) instead of being continuous in nature (as with insurance coverage). In many instances, consumers are loyal to several brands (sometimes described as “polygamous loyalty”) but avoid others. In such instances, the marketing goal is to strengthen the customer’s preference for one brand over others and to gain a greater share of the customer’s 72 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty spending on that service category (also referred to as increasing “share-of-wallet”). Well-designed loyalty programs can achieve increased share-ofwallet reward-based bonds. 30 Incentives that offer rewards based on the frequency of purchase, value of purchase, or a combination of both, represent a basic level of customer bonding. These rewards can be financial or nonfinancial in nature. Financial Rewards Financial rewards are customer incentives that have a financial value (also called “hard benefits”).
These include discounts on purchases, loyalty program rewards such as frequent flier miles (Figure 12. 11), and the cash-back programs provided by some credit card issuers. Besides airlines and hotels, an increasing number of service firms ranging from retailers (such as department stores, supermarkets,31 book shops, and petrol stations), telecommunications providers, and cafe chains to courier services and cinema chains have or are launching similar reward programs in response to the increasing competitiveness of their markets.
Many firms denominate their awards in miles that can be credited to a selected frequent flyer program. In short, air miles have become a form of promotional currency in the service sector. 32 Recent research in the credit card industry suggests that financial rewards-based loyalty programs strengthen the customers’ perception of the value proposition and lead to increased revenues due to fewer defections and higher usage levels. 33 Interestingly, if a firm has loyalty program partners, (e. g. an airline may partner credit card companies, hotels, car rental firms, where loyalty program points can also be earned with these companies), satisfaction with the core service can have a positive impact on buying from program partners. In the same way, satisfaction with the service of program partners can have a positive impact on the buying of the core service. 34 Even well-designed rewards programs by themselves are not enough to keep a firm’s most desirable customers. If you are dissatisfied with the quality of service, or believe that you can get better value from a less expensive service, you may quickly become disloyal.
No service business that has a rewards program for frequent users can ever afford to lose sight of its broader goals of offering high service quality and good value relative to the price and other costs incurred by customers. 35 Sometimes, what the customer wants is just for the firm to deliver the basic service well, meet their needs, and solve their problems quickly and easily, and they will be loyal. 36 Finally, customers can be frustrated with financial rewards-based programs so that instead of creating loyalty and goodwill, they breed dissatisfaction.
This can happen when customers feel they are excluded from a reward program because of low balances or volume of business, if the rewards are seen as having little or no value, if they cannot redeem their loyalty points because of black-out dates during high-demand periods, and if redemption processes are too troublesome and time consuming. 37 Figure 12. 11 AmericanAirlines triestomakeitsloyaltyprogram enticing. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 373 PART IV And some customers already have so many loyalty cards in their wallet that they simply are not interested in adding more cards to that pile.
Nonfinancial Rewards Nonfinancial rewards (also called “soft benefits”) provide benefits that cannot be translated directly into monetary terms. Examples include giving priority to loyalty program members on reservation wait lists and virtual queues in call centers. Some airlines provide benefits such as higher baggage allowances, priority upgrading, access to airport lounges and the like to its frequent flyers, even when they are only flying in economy class. Important intangible rewards include special recognition and appreciation.
Customers tend to value the extra attention given to their needs and appreciate the implicit service guarantee offered by high-tier loyalty program memberships. This includes efforts to meet their occasional special requests. Many loyalty programs also provide important status benefits to customers in the top tiers who feel part of an elite group (e. g. , the Seven Stars card holders with Harrah’s Entertainment in our opening vignette) and enjoy their special treatment. 38 Nonfinancial rewards, especially if linked to higher-tier service levels, are typically more owerful than financial ones. Higher-tier service can create a lot of value for customers. Unlike financial rewards, nonfinancial rewards directly relate to the firm’s core service and improve the customers’ experience and value perception. In the hotel context, for example, redeeming loyalty points for free gifts does nothing for the guest experience. However, getting priority for reservations, early check-in, late check-out, upgrades, and receiving special attention and appreciation make your stay more pleasant and makes you want to come back.
Service Insights 12. 4 describes how British Airways has designed its Executive Club, effectively combining financial and nonfinancial loyalty rewards. SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 4 Rewarding Value of Use, Not Just Frequency, at British Airways Unlike some frequent flyer programs, in which customer usage is measured simply in miles, British Airways’ (BA) Executive Club members receive both air miles toward redemption of air travel awards and points toward silver or gold tier status for travel on BA.
With the creation of the OneWorld alliance with American Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and other airlines, Executive Club members have been able to earn miles (and sometimes points) by flying these partner airlines, too. As shown in Table 12. 1, silver and gold card holders are entitled to special benefits, such as priority reservations and a superior level of on-the-ground service. For instance, even if a gold card holder is only traveling in economy class, he or she will be entitled to first-class standards of treatment at check-in and in the airport lounges.
Miles can be accumulated for up to three years (after which they expire), but tier status is valid for only 12 months beyond the membership year in which it was earned. 374 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty This means that the right to special privileges must be re-earned each year. The objective of awarding tier status is to encourage passengers who have a choice of airlines to concentrate their travel on British Airways. Few passengers travel so often that they will be able to obtain the benefits of gold tier status (or its equivalent) on more than one airline. Points given also vary according to the class of service.
Longer trips earn more points than shorter ones. However, tickets at deeply discounted prices may earn fewer miles and no points at all. To reward purchase of higher-priced tickets, passengers earn points at double the economy rate if they travel in club (business class), and at triple the rate in first class. Although the airline makes no promises about complimentary upgrades, members of BA’s Executive Club are more likely to receive such invitations than other passengers. Tier status is an important consideration. Unlike many airlines, BA tends to limit upgrades to situations in which a lower class of cabin is overbooked.
They do not want frequent travelers to believe that they can plan on buying a less expensive ticket and then automatically receive an upgraded seat. Table 12. 1 BenefitsofferedbyBritishAirwaystoitsmostvaluedpassengers Benefit Reservations Reservation assurance Silver-tier Members Dedicatedsilverphoneline Ifflightisfull,guaranteedseatin economywhenbookingfullfareticketat least24hoursinadvanceandchecking inatleastonehourinadvance Higherpriority Club(regardlessoftravelclass) Clubdepartureloungesforpassenger andoneguestregardlessofclassof travel Gold-tier Members
Dedicatedgoldphoneline Ifflightisfull,guaranteedseatineconomy whenbookingfullfareticketatleast24hours inadvanceandcheckinginatleastonehourin advance Highestpriority First(regardlessoftravelclass) First-classdepartureloungeforpassenger andoneguest,regardlessoftravelclass;use ofarrivalslounges;loungeaccessanytime, allowinguseofloungesevenwhennotflyingBA intercontinentalflights Boardaircraftatleisure Problemsolvingbeyondthataccordedtoother BAtravelers Prioritywaitlist andstandby Check-indesk Loungeaccess Preferred boarding Specialservices assistance Bonusairmiles Upgradefortwo Boardaircraftatleisure 100% +100% Freeupgradetonextcabinformemberand companionafterearning2,500tierpointsinone year;anotherupgradefortwoafter3,500points insameyear. AwardsomeoneelsewithaSilver Partnercardonreaching4,500pointswithin membershipyear. ConcordeRoomaccessatHeathrowTerminal5 forthosewhoearn5,000points Special privilege Source British Airways Executive Club, www. britishairways. com/travel/ecbenftgold/public/en_us, accessed July 2011. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 375 PART IV LO 10 Appreciate the power of social, customization, and structural bonds in enhancing loyalty. Building Higher-Level Bonds
One objective of loyalty rewards is to motivate customers to combine their purchases with one provider or at least make it the preferred provider. However, reward-based loyalty programs are quite easy for other suppliers to copy and seldom provide a sustained competitive advantage. In contrast, higher-level bonds tend to offer a longer-term competitive advantage. We discuss next the three main types of higher-level bonds, which are (1) social, (2) customization, and (3) structural bonds. Figure 12. 12 Aknowledgeable andcharismaticlecturer helpsbuildsocialbondswith students.
Have you ever noticed how your favorite hairdresser calls you by your name when you go for a haircut or how she asks why she hasn’t seen you for a long time? Social bonds are usually based on personal relationships between providers and customers. There is an element of trust, which is important for loyalty. 39 Social bonds are more difficult to build than financial bonds and may take longer to achieve, but they are also harder for other suppliers to imitate. A firm that has created social bonds with its customers has a better chance of keeping them for the long term because of the trust the customers place in the staff. 0 When social bonds include shared relationships (Figure 12. 12) or experiences between customers, such as in country clubs or educational settings, they can be a major loyalty driver for the organization. 41 Social Bonds Customization Bonds These bonds are built when the service provider succeeds in providing customized service to its loyal customers. For example, Starbucks’ employees are encouraged to learn their regular customers’ preferences and customize their service accordingly (Figure 12. 13). Many large hotel chains capture the preferences of their customers through their loyalty program databases.
Firms offering customized service are likely to have more loyalty customers. 42 For example, when customers arrive at their hotel, they find that their individual needs have already been met. These range from preferred drinks and snacks in the mini bar, to the kind of pillow they like, and the newspaper they want to receive in the morning. When a customer becomes used to this special service, he or she may find it difficult to adjust to another service provider who is not able to customize the service (at least immediately as it takes time for the new provider to learn about someone’s needs and preferences). 3 Figure 12. 13 Starbucks’ employeesareencouraged tolearntheircustomers’ preferences. Structural Bonds Structural bonds are commonly seen in B2B settings. They are created by getting customers to align their way of doing things with the supplier’s own processes, thus linking the customer to the firm. This situation makes it more difficult for 376 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty competitors to draw them away. Examples include joint investments in projects and sharing of information, processes, and equipment. Structural bonds can be created in a B2C environment, too.
For instance, some car rental companies offer travelers the opportunity to create customized pages on the firm’s website where they can get details of past trips including the types of cars, insurance coverage, and so forth. This simplifies and speeds up the task of making new bookings. Have you noticed that, while all these bonds tie a customer closer to the firm, they also deliver the confidence, social, and special treatment benefits that customers desire (refer to Service Insights 12. 1)? In general, bonds will not work well unless they also generate value for the customer!
STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING CUSTOMER DEFECTIONS LO 11 Understand what factors cause customers to switch to a competitor, and how to reduce such switching. S o far, we have discussed drivers of loyalty and how to tie customers more closely to the firm. A complementary approach is to understand the drivers for customer defections, also called customer churn, and work on eliminating or at least reducing those drivers. Analyze Customer Defections and Monitor Declining Accounts The first step is to understand the reasons for customer switching.
Susan Keveaney conducted a large-scale study across a range of services and found several key reasons why customers switch to another provider (Figure 12. 14). 44 These were: Service Failure/Recovery Core Service Failure • Service mistakes • Billing errors • Service catastrophe Service Encounter Failures • Uncaring • Impolite • Unresponsive • Unknowledgeable Response to Service Failure • Negative • None • Reluctant Value Proposition Pricing • High • Increases • Unfair • Deceptive Service Switching Inconvenience • Location/hours • Wait for appointment • Wait for service Competition • Found better service Others
Involuntary Switching • Customer moved • Provider closed Source Ethical Problems • Cheat • Unsafe • Hard sell • Conflict of interest Adapted from Susan M. Keaveney, “Customer Switching Behavior in Service Industries: An Exploratory Study,” Journal of Marketing 59 (April 1995), 71–82. Figure 12. 14 Whatdrives customerstoswitchawayfrom aservicefirm? DevelopingCustomerRelationships 377 PART IV u u u u u Core service failures (44% of respondents). Dissatisfactory service encounters (34%). High, deceptive, or unfair pricing (30%). Inconvenience in terms of time, location, or delays (21%). Poor response to service failure (17%).
Many respondents decided to switch after a series of related incidents, such as a service failure followed by an unsatisfactory service recovery. Many service firms regularly conduct what is called churn diagnostics. This includes the analysis of data from churned and declining customers, exit interviews (call center staff often have a short set of questions they ask when a customer cancels an account to gain a better understanding of why customers defect), and in-depth interviews of former customers by a third-party research agency, which typically yield a more detailed understanding of churn drivers. 5 Some firms even try to predict churn of individual accounts. For example, cell phone service providers use churn alert systems. These systems keep track of the activity in individual customer accounts. The objective is to predict when a customer might switch. Important accounts at risk are flagged and efforts are made to keep the customer, such as sending a voucher and/or having a customer service representative call the customer to check on the health of the customer relationship and start corrective action if needed.
Address Key Churn Drivers Keaveney’s findings show the importance of addressing some general churn drivers by delivering quality service (see Chapter 14), reducing inconvenience and other nonmonetary costs, and having fair and transparent pricing (Chapter 6). There are often industry-specific churn drivers as well. For example, handset replacement is a common reason for cellular phone service subscribers to discontinue an existing relationship, as new subscription plans usually come with heavily subsidized new handsets.
To prevent handset-related churn, many providers now offer handset replacement programs, offering current subscribers heavily discounted new handsets at regular intervals. Some providers even provide handsets free to high-value customers or against redemption of loyalty points. In addition to measures to prevent churn, many firms take active steps to retain customers. They train call center staff, called “save teams,” who deal with customers who intend to cancel their accounts. The main job of save team employees is to listen to customer needs and issues and try to address these with the key focus of retaining the customer.
But be careful on how to reward save teams—see Service Insights 12. 5. Implement Effective Complaint Handling and Service Recovery Procedures Effective complaint handling and excellent service recovery are important to keep unhappy customers from switching providers. Well-managed firms make it easy for customers to voice their problems and respond with suitable service recovery strategies. 378 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 5 Churn Management Gone Wrong
America Online (AOL) found itself on the wrong end of churn management when about 300 of its subscribers filed complaints with the New York state attorney general’s office, saying that AOL had ignored their demands to cancel the service and stop billing them. After an investigation by the State of New York, AOL eventually agreed to pay $1. 25 million in penalties and costs and to change some of its customer service practices to settle the case. What went wrong? AOL had been rewarding its call center employees for “saving” customers who called in to cancel their service.
Employees could earn high bonuses if they were able to persuade half or more of such customers to stay with the firm. As claimed by the attorney general’s office, this may have led AOL’s employees to make it difficult to cancel service. As a response, AOL agreed in a settlement to have service cancellations requests recorded and verified by a third-party monitor, and to provide up to four months’ worth of refunds Source to all New York subscribers who claim that their cancellations had been ignored (AOL did not admit to any wrongdoing in that settlement).
Eliot Spitzer, New York’s Attorney General at the time, said, “This agreement helps to ensure that AOL will strive to keep its customers through quality service, not stealth retention programs. ” The Associated Press, “AOL to Pay $1,25M to Settle Spitzer Probe,” USA Today, 25. 08. 2005, p. 5B. In that way, customers will remain satisfied, and this will reduce the intention to switch. 46 We will discuss in depth on how to do that effectively in Chapter 13. Increase Switching Costs Another way to reduce churn is to increase switching barriers. 47 Many services have natural switching costs.
For example, it is a lot of work for customers to change their primary banking account, especially when many direct debits, credits, and other related banking services are tied to that account. Also, many customers are reluctant to learn about the products and processes of a new provider. 48 Switching costs can also be created by having contractual penalties for switching, such as the transfer fees payable to some brokerage firms for moving shares and bonds to another financial institution. However, firms need to be careful so that they are not seen as holding their customers hostage.
A firm with high switching barriers and poor service quality is likely to generate negative attitudes and bad word-of-mouth. At some point, a previously inert customer may have enough and switch the service provider. 49 DevelopingCustomerRelationships 379 PART IV LO 12 Understand the part played by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems in delivering customized services and building loyalty. CRM: CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT S ervice marketers have understood for some time the power of relationship management, and certain industries have applied it for years.
Examples include the corner grocery store, the neighborhood car repair shop, and providers of banking services to high-net-worth clients. However, mention CRM, and immediately costly and complex IT systems and infrastructure come to mind. But CRM is actually the whole process by which relations with the customers are built and maintained. 50 It should be seen as enabling the successful implementation of the Wheel of Loyalty. Let’s first look at CRM systems before we move to a more strategic perspective. Common Objectives of CRM Systems CRM systems allow customer information to be captured and deliver it to the various touchpoints.
From a customer perspective, well-implemented CRM systems deliver customization and personalization. This means that, at each transaction, the person serving the customer will have easy access to the customer’s relevant account details, knowledge of customer preferences and past transactions, or history of a service problem. This can result in a vast service improvement and increased customer value. Personalization and improved communication will result in more loyalty. 51 From a company’s perspective, CRM systems allow the company to better understand, segment, and tier its customer base, better target promotions and crossselling, and ven implement churn alert systems that signal if a customer is in danger of defecting. 52 Service Insights 12. 6 highlights some common CRM applications. SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 6 Common CRM Applications • Data collection. The system captures customer data such as contact details, demographics, purchasing history, service preferences, and the like. • Data analysis. The data captured is analyzed and grouped by the system according to criteria set by the firm. This is used to tier the customer base and tailor service delivery accordingly. • Sales force automation.
Sales leads, cross-sell, and up-sell opportunities can be effectively identified and processed. The entire sales cycle from lead generation to close of sales and aftersales service can be tracked through the CRM system. • Marketing automation. Mining of customer data allows the firm to target its market. A good CRM system allows the firm to achieve one-toone marketing and cost savings, often through loyalty and retention programs. This results in increasing the return on investment (ROI) on its marketing expenditure. CRM systems also allow firms to judge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through the analysis of responses. Call center automation. Call center staff have customer information at their fingertips and can improve their service levels to all customers. Furthermore, caller ID and account numbers allow call centers to identify the customer tier the caller belongs to, and to tailor the service accordingly. For example, platinum callers get priority in waiting loops. 380 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty WHAT DOES A COMPREHENSIVE CRM STRATEGY INCLUDE? 53 R 1. ather than viewing CRM as a technology, we should view it as a system that focuses on the profitable development and management of customer relationships.
Figure 12. 15 provides five key processes involved in a CRM strategy: Strategy development involves looking at business strategy, including the company’s vision, industry trends, and competition. It is usually the responsibility of top management. For customer relationship management to have a positive impact on a firm’s performance, the firm’s strategy is key. 54 Therefore, business strategy should guide the development of customer strategy, including the choice of target segments, customer base tiering, the design of loyalty bonds, and churn management (as discussed in the Wheel of Loyalty, Figure 12. 6).
Value creation translates business and customer strategies into value propositions for customers and the firm. The value created for customers includes all the benefits that are delivered through priority tiered services, loyalty rewards, and Strategy Development Process Business Strategy • Business vision • Industry and competitive analysis 2. Value Creation Process Value Customer Receives • Value proposition, including -Higher tier services -Loyalty rewards -Customization Dual Creation of Value Value Organization Receives • Acquisition economics • Retention economics • Share-of-wallet Customer Segment Lifetime Value Analysis
Multichannel Integration Process Sales force Outlets Telephony Direct marketing Electronic commerce Mobile commerce • • • • Integrated Channel Management Performance Assessment Process Stakeholder Results Customer value Employee value Shareholder value Cost reduction • • • • Customer Strategy Target segments Tiering of service Loyalty bonds Churn management CRM Process Monitoring Data Repository IT systems Analysis tools Front-office applications Back-office applications Information Management Process Figure 12. 15 AnintegratedframeworkforCRMstrategy. Source
Adapted from: Adrian Payne and Pennie Frow, “A Strategic Framework for Customer Relationship Management,” Journal of Marketing 69 (October 2005): 167–176. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 381 PART IV Marketing & Service Delivery Performance Monitoring • Customer metrics • Service delivery standards customization and personalization. The values created for the firm include reduced customer acquisition and retention costs, increased share-of-wallet, and reduced customer serving costs. Customers need to participate in CRM (e. g. , through volunteering information) so that they benefit from the firm’s CRM strategy.
CRM seems most successful when there is a win-win situation for the firm and its customers. 55 3. Multi-channel integration. Most service firms interact with their customers through a multitude of channels, and it has become a challenge to serve customers well across these many potential interfaces, and offer a unified customer interface that delivers customization and personalization. CRM’s channel integration addresses this challenge. Information management. Service delivery across many channels depends on the firm’s ability to collect customer information from all channels at the various touchpoints (Figure 12. 6). The information management process includes: • Thedatarepositorythatcontainsallthecustomerdata. • ITsystemsincludingIThardwareandsoftware. • Analyticaltoolssuchasdataminingpackages. • Specificapplicationpackagessuchascampaignmanagementanalysis,credit assessment, customer profiling, and churn alert systems. • Front-office applications, which support activities that involve direct customer contact, including sales force automation and call center management applications. • Back-officeapplications,whichsupportinternalcustomer-relatedprocesses, including, logistics, procurement, and financial processing.
Performance assessment must address three critical questions: • IstheCRMstrategycreatingvalueforitskeystakeholders(i. e. ,customers, employees, and shareholders)? 4. Figure 12. 16 Airportselfcheckinkiosksrepresentanother servicetouchpointthatneeds tobeintegratedintoanairline’s CRMsystem. 5. 382 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty • Are the marketing objectives (ranging from customer acquisition, shareof-wallet, and retention to customer satisfaction) and service delivery performance objectives (e. g. , call center service standards such as call waiting) being achieved? • Is the CRM process itself performing up o expectations? (e. g. , Are the relevant strategies being set? Is customer and firm value being created? Is the information management process working effectively? Is integration across customer service channels being achieved effectively? ) Common Failures in CRM Implementation Unfortunately, the majority of CRM implementations have failed in the past. According to the Gartner Group, the CRM implementation failure rate is 55%, and Accenture claims it to be as high as around 60%. A key reason for this high failure rate is that firms often think just installing CRM systems is having a customer relationship strategy.
They forget that the system is just a tool to enhance the firm’s customer servicing capabilities, and is not the strategy itself. Furthermore, CRM cuts across many departments and functions (e. g. , from customer contact centers, online services and distributions, to branch operations, employee training, and IT departments), programs (ranging from sales and loyalty programs to launching of new services, and cross-selling initiatives), and processes (e. g. , from credit line authorization all the way to complaint handling and service recovery). The wide-ranging scope of CRM makes it challenging to implement and to get it right.
Common reasons for CRM failures include:56 u Viewing CRM as a technology initiative. It’s easy to let the focus shift toward technology and its features, with the result that the IT department rather than top management or marketing taking the lead in coming up with the CRM strategy. This often results in a lack of direction from management and a lack of understanding of customers and markets during implementation. Lack of customer focus. Many firms implement CRM without the goal of allowing for improving service delivery for valued customers across all delivery channels.
Insufficient appreciation of customer lifetime value (LTV). Marketing does not take into account the different profitabilities of different customers. Furthermore, the servicing costs for different customers are often not well captured (e. g. , by using activity-based costing as discussed in Chapter 6). Inadequate support from top management. Without ownership and active involvement from top management, the CRM implementation will not be successful. Failing to re-engineer business processes. It is nearly impossible to implement CRM successfully without redesigning customer service and back-office processes.
Many implementations fail because CRM is being fitted into existing processes, rather than redesigning the processes to fit a customer-centric CRM implementation. Redesigning also requires change management and employee involvement and support, which are often lacking. u u u u DevelopingCustomerRelationships 383 PART IV u Underestimating the challenges in data integration. Firms frequently fail to integrate customer data that usually are scattered across the organization. However, one way to take advantage of the full potential of CRM is to make customer knowledge available in real time to all employees who need it.
In the long run, firms can put their CRM strategies at risk if customers believe that CRM is being used in a way that is harmful to them. 57 Examples include feeling that they are not being treated fairly (including not being offered attractive pricing or promotions that are offered, for example, to new accounts, but not to existing customers) and potential privacy concerns (see Service Insights 12. 7). Being aware and actively avoiding these weaknesses is a first step toward a successful CRM implementation. How to Get CRM Implementation Right
Despite the horror stories of millions of dollars sinking into unsuccessful CRM projects, more and more firms are getting it right. “No longer a black hole, CRM is becoming a basic building block of corporate success,” argue Darrell Rigby and Dianne Ledingham. 58 Even CRM systems that have been implemented but have not yet shown results can be well positioned for future success. Experienced McKinsey consultants believe that even CRM systems that have yet to show results can still be turned around. They recommend taking a step back and focusing on how to build customer loyalty, rather than focusing on the technology itself. 9 Rather than using CRM to transform entire businesses through the implementation of the CRM model shown in Figure 12. 15, service firms should focus on clearly defined problems within their customer relationship cycle. These narrow CRM strategies often reveal additional opportunities for further improvements, which, taken together, can develop into broad CRM implementation extending across the entire company. 60 Among the key questions managers should ask when defining their customer relationship strategy are: 1. 2. 3. How should our value proposition change to increase customer loyalty?
How much customization or one-to-one marketing and service delivery is appropriate and profitable? What is the incremental profit potential of increasing the share-of-wallet with our current customers? How much does this vary by customer tier and/or segment? How much time and resources can we allocate to CRM right now? If we believe in customer relationship management, why haven’t we taken more steps in that direction in the past? What can we do today to develop customer relationships without spending a lot on technology? 61 4. 5. Figure 12. 7 CRMcanhelp companiescreatetwo-way channelswithcustomers. Answering these questions can even lead to the conclusion that a CRM system may not be the best investment or highest priority at the moment. In any case, we emphasize that the system is merely a tool to drive the strategy and must thus be customized to deliver that strategy (Figure 12. 17). 384 Chapter12 • Managing Relationships and Building Loyalty SERVICE INSIGHTS 12. 7 CRM Extreme—A Glimpse into Ordering Pizza in 2018? Operator: “Thank you for calling Pizza Delight. Linda speaking, how may I help you? Customer:“Goodevening,canIorder…” Operator: “Sir, before taking your order, could I please have the number of your multi-purpose smart card? ” Customer:“Holdon…. it’s…. um…CA-4555 9831. ” Operator: “Thank you! Can I please confirm you’re Mr Thompson calling from 10940 Wilford Boulevard? You are calling from your home number 432-3876, your cell phone number is 992-4566, and your office number is 432-9377. ” Customer: “How in the world did you get my address and all my numbers? ” Operator: “Sir, we are connected to the Integrated Customer Intimacy System. Customer: “I would like to order a large seafood pizza…” Operator: “Sir, that’s not a good idea. ” Customer: “Why?!? ” Operator: “According to your medical records, you have very high blood pressure and a far too high cholesterol level, Sir. ” Customer: “What? … What do you recommend then? ” Operator: “Try our Low Fat Soybean Yoghurt Pizza. You’ll like it. ” Customer: “How do you know? ” Operator: “You borrowed the book ‘Popular Soybean Dishes’ from the City Library last week, Sir. ” Customer: “OK, I give up …Getmethreelargeones then. How much will that be? Operator: “That should be enough for your family of eight, Sir. The total is $54. 90. ” Customer: “Can I pay by credit card? ” Operator: “I’m afraid you’ll have to pay us cash, Sir. Your credit card is over the limit and your checking account has an overdue balance of $2,435. 88. That’s excluding the late payment charges on your home equity loan, Sir. ” Customer: “I guess I’ll have to run to the ATM and withdraw some cash before your guy arrives. ” Operator: “You can’t do that, Sir. Based on the records, you’ve reached your daily machine withdrawals limit for today. ”
Operator: “About 45 minutes Sir, but if you don’t want to wait you can always come and collect it on yourHarley,registrationnumberL. A. 6468…” Customer: “#@$#@%^%%@” Operator: “Sir, please watch your language. Remember, on 28th April 2017 you were convicted ofusingabusivelanguageatatrafficwarden…” Customer: (Speechless) Operator: “Is there anything else, Sir? ” Source This story was adapted from various sources, including www. lawdebt. com/gazette/nov2004/nov2004. pdf (accessed in January 2006) and a video created by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) available at www. aclu. org/pizza.
This video aims to communicate the privacy threats that CRM poses to consumers. ACLU is a nonprofit organization that campaigns against government’s and corporations’ aggressive collection of information on people’s personal life and habits. DevelopingCustomerRelationships 385 PART IV Customer: “Never mind. Just send the pizzas, I’ll have the cash ready. How long is it gonna take? ” CHAPTER SUMMARY LO 1 u Customer loyalty is an important driver of a service firm’s profitability. The profits derived from loyal customers come from (1) increased purchases, (2) reduced operation costs, (3) referral of new customers, and (4) price premiums.
Also, customer acquisition costs can be amortized over a longer period of time. To build the foundation for loyalty, firms need to: LO 5 u Segment the market and target the “right” customers. Firms need to choose their target segments carefully and match them to what the firm can do best. Firms need to focus on customer value, instead of just going for customer volume. LO 2 u However, it is not true that loyal customers are always more profitable. They may expect price discounts for staying loyal. To truly understand the profit impact of the customers, firms need to learn how to calculate the LTV of their customers.
LTV calculations need to include (1) acquisition costs, (2) revenue streams, (3) account-specific servicing costs, (4) expected number of years the customer will stay with the firm, and (5) discount rate for future cash flows. LO 6 u Manage the customer base via service tiering, which divides the customer base into different value tiers (e. g. , platinum, gold, iron, and lead). It helps to tailor strategies to the different service tiers. The higher tiers offer higher value for the firm but also expect higher service levels.
For the lower tiers, the focus should be on increasing profitability through building volume, increasing prices, cutting servicing costs, and as a last resort even ending unprofitable relationships. LO 3 u Customers are only loyal if there is a benefit for them to be so. Common benefits customers see in being loyal include: o Confidence benefits, including feeling that there is less risk of something going wrong, ability to trust the provider, and receipt of the firm’s highest level of service. Social benefits, including being known by name, friendship with the service provider, and enjoyment of certain social aspects of the relationship.
Special treatment benefits, including better prices, extra services, and higher priority. LO 7 u Understand that the foundation for loyalty lies in customer satisfaction. The satisfaction loyalty relationship can be divided into three main zones: defection, indifference, and affection. Only highly satisfied or delighted customers who are in the zone of affection will be truly loyal. o Loyalty bonds are used to build relationships with customers. There are three different types of customer bonds: LO 8 u Cross-selling and bundling deepen relationships that make switching more difficult and often increase convenience through one-stop shopping. LO 4 u It is not easy to build customer loyalty. The Wheel of Loyalty offers a systematic framework that guides firms on how to do so. The framework has three components that follow a sequence. o First, firms need to build a foundation for loyalty without which loyalty cannot be achieved. The foundation delivers confidence benefits to its loyal customers. Once the foundation is laid, firms can then create loyalty bonds to strengthen the relationship. Loyalty benefits deliver social and special treatment benefits. Finally, besides focusing on loyalty, firms also have to work on reducing customer churn. LO 9