The contention that loyal customers are always more profitable is a gross simplification, according to the authors. They posit that such schemes do not fundamentally alter market structure and, instead, increase market expenditures without really creating any extra brand loyalty. Dowling and Uncles suggest ways to design an effective program.
These days, many businesses are focused on increasing customers’ positive word of mouth. But emphasizing customer participation — such as providing feedback or suggestions — may be a more important vehicle for generating valuable repeat business. As one COO said, “Levels of feedback is a way we identify our most profitable customers. Those that bother to write to us do care. And they do spend money with us.”
To become a customer-focused organization requires senior executives to open up communication with people throughout the organization so they can hear what is actually going on — as opposed to a sanitized version. Few companies make this leap, even though not doing it can hurt long-term performance. However, managers can come to terms with their company’s weaknesses in the realm of customer focus by posing a set of five questions specifically designed to uncover their vulnerabilities.