customer experience brand loyalty emotion researchIn the United States, repeat customers account for 40-percent of all online shopping revenue. However, they only account for 8-percent of site visitors. Quite simply, loyal customers spend more money and move the needle on sales.

According to a 2018 Retail Trends Report, “83-percent of consumers consider themselves about the same or more loyal to brands than their parents.” Almost 30-percent of Millennials (the highest demo percentage in the report) stated that they were even more loyal to a brand than their parents. Generational loyalty can take years to cultivate and maintain. However, it can all be lost with a single negative customer experience.

Loyalty, it seems, only goes as far as the most recent brand interaction, which is why each and every interaction needs to not only go above and beyond but predict what the customer wants next. This is certainly a challenge for brands because there is no one single strategy that works. Fortunately, there are several methods for modern CX that brands can implement to continue to engage, retain, and create their most loyal consumers.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are a tried and true way for brands to maintain customer loyalty. The average consumer is signed up for 14 loyalty programs but maxes out at actively using only seven of them. For rewards programs to succeed, they need to reward every interaction and make the CX simple, convenient, and enjoyable (often in the form of in-app gamification). Dunkin’ Donuts‘ DD Rewards offers on-the-go mobile ordering, free beverages, and special rewards and offers on every purchase. The new Lyft Rewards program targets everyday riders who accumulate points for upgrades and discounts on future rides. Whether it’s coffee consumption or ride-sharing, the more customers use these everyday services, the more they are rewarded.

Brand loyalty through customer experience referralsReferral Programs

While positive word-of-mouth remains a powerful source for new customer lead generation, the referrer has to take it upon themselves to proselytize a particular brand. Referral programs that play directly off of a positive CX experience can offer customers some strong incentives for sharing their experience and recruiting new loyalists. Refer-a-friend programs are everywhere from Seamless to Tesla, but the most successful ones reward both the old and new customer. Dropbox represents a classic example. Both the referrer and the new customer received extra storage space, which was the key to enjoying this particular product.


While Millennials can exhibit more brand loyalty than previous generations, they also expect more beyond the standard CX. They want their dollar to help others and they expect the brands they engage to share that ethos. Some brands have based their entire business models around a one-for-one purchase structure. For every pair of Bombas socks purchased a pair is donated to the homeless community. Toms started with a one-for-one offering of shoes for children in need and expanded to eyewear (glasses, surgery, and medical treatments) and coffee (one week of clean water). Knowing that every future purchase will invariably help another underprivileged individual is a unique type of CX but one that certainly engenders new levels of loyalty.


A positive customer experience isn’t always about loving a purchase but what happens when that purchase doesn’t meet expectations. Few-to-no-questions-asked return policies are another important side of CX. Amazon will take back most items for a full refund within 30 days. Casper goes even further with its “100 Night Trial” for mattress testing that includes a return pick-up. Then there’s Bed Bath & Beyond who have recently updated their return policy because too many people were taking advantage of it: an unlimited return window with a receipt or 365 days without one. Sometimes brand loyalty is created through nothing more than a guarantee and a consistent follow-through on that guarantee.

market research data on customer experienceData

Rewards and referral programs, guarantees, and charitable donations have all been effective at creating and maintaining loyalty through CX. But they’re not enough. No matter how great your brand maintains and promotes its CX, your customer base will always demand more. The need for customer data is paramount for predicting buying patterns and mapping customer personas. Knowing what a customer has purchased and how they’ve interacted with the brand can dictate when they’ll come back and what they’ll come back for. Most importantly, data can inform brands on the who, what, where, when, and how to interact with their repeat customers, like when to promote that perfect Instagram “buy now” ad.

Customers are more in control than ever when it comes to their relationships with brands. They expect more from their customer experience and have little tolerance when expectations aren’t met or exceeded. The challenge for brands is to be able to one-up each CX, to make it feel personalized, and to stay ahead of their customers by predicting their wants and needs. The best way to achieve this understanding is through emotion research methods, like our Emotion Intelligence solution, that provide deeper insights into what your customer is thinking and feeling. There’s no one catch-all solution but every effort that places CX as the top priority will go far to ensuring and maintaining customer loyalty.

For your next CX project contact The Martec Group.

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