New Book Exposes Customer Loyalty's Big, New Threat and Offers Proven Tools to Tackle It

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"I Googled it." These three words have single handedly transformed the way customers buy across every industry and sector. The ability to compare price and product created by Internet search engines, coupled with our insatiable desire for instant information, have created a volatile, new breed of buyer: the Search-and-Switch Customer. In these bruising economic times, businesses unprepared to address this buyer are losing market share by the minute. In "Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer: Earning Customer Loyalty in a Compulsion-to-Compare World," (Jossey-Bass; March 24, 2009; hardcover) loyalty guru Jill Griffin, advisor to Microsoft, Dell, Toyota, Marriott, HP, Days Inn, and Western Union, provides a fresh, new arsenal of loyalty solutions uniquely calibrated for today's compulsion-to-compare planet of buyers.

Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer: Earning Customer Loyalty in a Compulsion-to-Compare World

"I Googled it." These three words have single handedly transformed the way customers buy across every industry and sector. The ability to compare price and product created by Internet search engines, coupled with our insatiable desire for instant information, have created a volatile, new breed of buyer: the Search-and-Switch Customer. In these bruising economic times, businesses unprepared to address this buyer are losing market share by the minute. In "Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer: Earning Customer Loyalty in a Compulsion-to-Compare World," (Jossey-Bass; March 24, 2009; hardcover) loyalty guru Jill Griffin, advisor to Microsoft, Dell, Toyota, Marriott, HP, Days Inn, and Western Union, provides a fresh, new arsenal of loyalty solutions uniquely calibrated for today's compulsion-to-compare planet of buyers.

The question, "Do I stay or do I switch?" is forever on the minds of this new breed of customer. To keep these switch-prone customers from straying, companies need bold, new loyalty strategies that skillfully address four relentless, ever-present market factors: (i) underserved customers, (ii) unprecedented choice; (iii) easy-to-use and extremely accurate search listings and (iv) bottom-up social media activism. As The Loyalty Maker®, Griffin takes aim at these factors head-on with deep knowledge, know-how and a host of tools to tame the search-and-switch customer. Her three-part solution? Get a Grip, Get the Credit You're Due, and Fortify Your Firewall.

  • Get a Grip. Dig deep and develop a keen understanding of your customer's buying behaviors with a particular eye on what triggers search and switch. In which of the four states of loyalty - true loyalty, spurious loyalty, true disloyalty, or spurious disloyalty - do each of your customers fall? Your goal is to earn true customer loyalty. Take the temperature of your customers' attitudes and identify the loyalty-building and loyalty-repressing drips that influence the gauge of their "Switch-O-Meter" and manage these drips effectively. Be proactive and know the motivations behind your customer's search habits and address them -- ensuring your brand comes out on top.

Example: Lexus, long known to provide exceptional customer service, realized that perks like cappuccino makers in the dealership waiting room were no longer enough to keep one step ahead of the competition. The car maker began offering auto maintenance house calls and training their call center reps to walk a customer through installing their car's cell phone hands-free headsets.

  • Get the Credit You're Due. You must ace your buyer's Worth-It Test™. Your ability to get and keep customers depends on it. Communicate key customer benefits to decision makers that repeatedly prove your product is superior to the competition. Like it or not, customers have a next best alternative (NBA) and you need to ensure your performance surpasses it.

Example: Dell created its online customer community, IdeaStorm, with a mission of giving Dell customers a place where they could share with Dell, and with others, their ideas on how the company could improve its goods and services. The "Ideas in Action" section of the site shows when and how user-generated ideas have been enacted.

  • Fortify Your Firewall. Building and sustaining customer trust is a crucial piece of fortifying your firewall. Value-delivering employees provide insulation to fend off competitors and keep customers from switching. From acing the Worth-It Test™ to building customer trust, these strategies depend on one irreplaceable point of execution: customer-driven staff members, at every level of the organization, who are passionate to serve. As the face of your business, it is highly important to turn them into advocates and buffers against competitors. "Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer" offers important strategies for finding and fostering these employees.

Example: The Container Store assigns a training buddy to each new employee, who not only debriefs them on all the company's merchandise but also coaches them on sales skills. This continues throughout the employee's first year. At over 240 training hours, The Container Store's program stands in huge contrast to the 8 hour training most retail workers receive. And it's paying off - the company consistently ranks high on Fortune magazine's best places to work list and employee turnover is well below the retail industry norms.

To earn customer loyalty in a world where customers relentlessly search and switch, a business must consistently deliver superb customer value that buyers recognize and reward.

With a war chest of tools, offered up with guidelines and examples from real life companies that utilize them, "Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer" is a crucial strategy book for anyone whose livelihood depends on getting and keeping customers in today's Googlized world.

About the Author
Jill Griffin is known to her clients as The Loyalty Maker®. Since 1988, she has led Austin-based Griffin Group, helping firms worldwide build fierce loyal customers. Her clients include Microsoft, Dell, Toyota, Marriott, HP, Western Union, and Sprint. Her previous book, "Customer Loyalty," was named to Harvard Business School's "Working Knowledge" list and has been translated into six languages. She is also the co-author of "Customer Winback," which earned Soundview's "30 Best Business Books" award.

Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer:
Earning Customer Loyalty in a Compulsion-to-Compare World
Author: Jill Griffin
Publication date: March 24, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-470-34504-7
Hardcover, $24.95

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