by Rick Robinson
Originally posted on IBM's Midsize Insider blog on December 27th, 2012.
Building and retaining customer loyalty is one of the biggest challenges that midsize firms face. Conventional wisdom, after all, has it that consumers are inherently fickle. They are hard to win over and all too easy to lose. They may love you one day and turn their backs on you the next.
But the conventional wisdom is mostly wrong. Customers, by and large, would like to be loyal. After all, sticking with a trusted company or brand makes their life a good deal easier. To walk into, say, a grocery store to buy a new product is to be confronted with too many choices. How do you choose among dozens of similar products or services? Far easier to just go in and get a brand you know you can depend on.
For companies, however, this does not make loyalty easy to build or keep.
Establishing and retaining customer loyalty is all about listening to your customers. For a small storefront business this can be relatively simple, if not always easy. Customers will come right up to the counter and give you an earful.
For midsize firms it can be more complicated. The most important customers may not be the most vocal ones. But analytic solutions from IBM can help make the listening process more reliable and effective.
Analytics tools can help a company determine what makes for satisfied--or dissatisfied--customers. And analytics can provide an ongoing picture of customers and their reactions. Potential problems, or opportunities, can be identified and tracked in real time. Thus, firms can act promptly to retain customers at risk or identify new customers who can be brought into the fold.
Likewise, analytics can help to identify your best customers, and help you build a stronger relationship with them.
Detecting Subtle Signals
Analytics are powerful because they don't just track what customers say, but also what they do. Big data has become a popular buzzword in the tech world. When it comes to customer behavior, however, big data is a reality as well as an opportunity that midsize firms should not ignore.
From subtle trends in buying behavior to comments on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, customers and potential customers are constantly sending signals about what they like and what they want more of. Combining these different signals can provide information that would have otherwise remained undiscovered.
IBM's analytics tools can help you hear what your customers are thinking, so you can respond to their needs more quickly.