Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’

If you’re like me, your wallet (or purse) is crammed with so-called loyalty cards. They come from grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and even credit card companies themselves. But, are they really loyalty cards or are they just rewarding frequent purchases? Are they effective?

Do these cards increase purchase frequency? In my case they do. I will buy my gas at the same station every week because it offers Air Miles.

Do these cards drive product preference? Yes, because I try to use only my MasterCard credit card because, again, I can accumulate more Air Miles.

Do these cards result in brand switching? Yes, because I will select a brand (within my substitutable set of brands or commodity products) if there are reward points associated with the purchase.

So, the cards can influence purchase behaviors, which is good for marketers, but do they drive loyalty? Do the cards create Promoters. My response is emphatically NO!

Loyalty is based on an emotional attachment for a product or brand. To paraphrase Fred Reichheld, author of The Ultimate Question, “Have I been treated in a way that is worthy of my loyalty?”. If I have been treated well, received good value, had my expectations exceeded and developed an emotional attachment to the product or service, then I have become a loyal customer and will  recommend a product or service.

Plastic cards are no guarantee that I will be treated well or fairly. They do not create those intangible “warm and fuzzy” feelings that signify loyalty. My use of these cards is a very rational decision, and nothing to do with loyalty. For example, I shopped at a local grocery store for years to amass more Air Miles. On the surface, the retailer would see me as a loyal customer who shopped there on a regular basis and spent lots of money. In fact, I hated the store and shopped there only because it was conveniently located, open 24 hours and offered Air Miles. As soon as a better store open closer to my home, I was gone even though the new store did not offer reward points. I became a former customer overnight because I had a better option. Had I been a loyal customer, they would still have my business.

On the other hand, I have owned 12 Toyotas since 1976. They don’t offer reward points but I have developed a deep emotional attachment with the brand and that has overcome all the disappointments that the brand has experienced in the past year or so. I don’t need a plastic card to give them my business provided they continue to treat me fairly, offer good value and exceed my expectations. I just feel good about the brand.

Those little plastic cards can influence purchase decisions. They can provide incentives to change behaviors. But call them what they really are – reward cards not loyalty cards.

My loyalty is not for sale.

Keith Chapin is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and Consultant with over 35 years of experience in research, marketing and customer insights. He can be reached at kchapin@promotersrecommend.com

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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If you read my earlier blogs, you’ll know that I have been a devoted and loyal Toyota owner since 1976. In the past, I’ve recommended Toyotas to anyone within hearing distance. The cars have been dependable, reliable and, in spite of ongoing price creep, a good value in cars.

But now what do I do? With all the recalls for Toyota products, do I continue to recommend freely, or do I qualify my recommendation? Would anybody even believe my recommendation? Have I suddenly become a Passive?

To make matters worse, the lease on my 2006 Camry ends in April 2010. I’ve been shopping the Toyota dealerships looking for a replacement, but every model I considered has been recalled. I even test drove the Prius hybrid and was seriously considering leasing the new 2010 model. Then, surprise surprise, the Prius seemed to develop software issues with the brakes. How discouraging!

This is really testing the limits of my Net Promoter instincts. Promoters, by definition, are tolerant of missteps by manufacturers to whom they are loyal. They give manufactures a lot of latitude and expect (or pray) that defects are anomalies that will be resolved and fixed. As a long time Toyota owner, that’s what I’m doing.

A report by Reuters indicates that Toyota Canada has ramped up its advertising spending, but the ads are aimed at its existing customers, rather than at new ones. A company spokesperson says that the future is in the hands of customers driving the cars today, not some potential customers. Toyota seems to understand the importance of their Promoters and wants to keep them that way. OK, Mr. Toyoda, I’m waiting to be convinced that all is good in Toyota Land. I’ve got to get a new car and soon. As a Promoter, I’ll give you my business, but you’ve got to give me back my peace of mind.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out the new Hyundai Tucson. Maybe even take it for a test drive. I don’t think I’m going to like this one bit!

 

Keith Chapin is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and Consultant with over 35 years of experience in research, marketing and customer insights. He can be reached at kchapin@promotersrecommend.com

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

Net Promoter™ is the internationally recognized tool that measures the dimensions of loyalty. By asking the simple question, “How likely are you to recommend my company (product, service or brand)?” customer loyalty can be effectively measured and tracked. But loyalty is not a simple concept. Loyalty has many dimensions that involve both the rational (the head) and the emotional (the heart).

The rational dimension of loyalty uses the head in a very logical evaluation of the product or service. Did it have the features I wanted? Did I get the best service? Was it the best price? If all this results in positive answers, then you were probably satisfied with the product or service. It met your expectations and maybe even exceeded them. You were satisfied, but were you loyal?

Satisfaction has a lot to do with initial expectations. I like to use the example of the new owner of a Kia 4 door sedan and the proud new owner of the BMW 335i sedan. After six months a headlight fails and forces both owners back to the dealership for servicing. The Kia owner may be happy that nothing else has gone wrong with this low-cost, entry-level car. However, the BMW is furious that his $60,000 pride and joy is in the shop for something as simple as a headlight. The Kia owner is still very satisfied with the purchase, mainly because expectations were low to begin with. The BMW owner was expecting perfection and is less than pleased that the headlight failed. The Kia owner has a higher level of satisfaction than the BMW owner, based on initial expectations. Who is likely to be more loyal, the owner whose low expectations were exceeded, or the owner whose high expectations were unmet?

The emotional dimension of loyalty engages the heart. Loyalty will be earned when a personal relationship develops between the product or service and the customer. The heart asks the questions: Do they know me? Do they value me as a client? Do they listen to me? Do they share my values? Only when the emotional combines with the rational does true loyalty happen.

Think about the last time you recommended a product or service. How did you feel when asked to make a recommendation? How did you feel when your recommendation was followed? Did you feel good when everything worked out? When you are loyal and recommend a product, you’re really sticking your neck out so you better totally engaged before you do it.

I am a long time Toyota owner and promoter (I’ve owned eleven Toyotas over the years) and I never hesitate to recommend the brand. It feels great when someone follows my recommendation and they become a happy Toyota owner. Needless to say, there are a lot of Toyotas in my neighbors’ driveways. I am very emotionally engaged with the brand.

Promoters, by definition, are emotionally engaged with the product or service they recommend. Passives, however, are not emotionally engaged. Their rational, logical mind may tell them that they are somewhat satisfied, but their heart has not yet created an emotional bond. Passives may not recommend nor stay with the brand. Detractors, on the other hand, may use rationality and emotion for NOT recommending (did not meet my expectations and I do not feel good about recommending).

If you are a quantitative researcher who lives for the numbers, you might be uncomfortable with the simplicity of Net Promoter Score and the short questionnaire used to collect the data. If you are the accountant- type manager who needs massive amounts of data to make business decisions, you may question the wisdom of using a single number to enable organizational change. However, if you are the researcher or manager who understands the complex interactions of the head and heart, you will see Net Promoter Score® as an effective tool to create a customer-centric focus within the organization.

The head and heart work in mysterious ways.

 

 

Keith Chapin is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and Consultant with over 35 years of experience in research, marketing and customer insights. He can be reached at kchapin@promotersrecommend.com

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.