How internal corporate culture affects customer loyalty

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Do you think customer loyalty is non-existent in the volatile world of ecommerce? A quaint idea like customer loyalty should no longer apply in this digital era, right?

Ecommerce professionals will staunchly disagree. As more customers engage in online transactions than ever before, these professionals will tell you that customer loyalty is crucial for e-businesses.

However, the nature of ecommerce, where product substitutes are readily available, means that gaining customer loyalty is an uphill battle for e-businesses. E-loyalty cannot be secured by a convenient locality or by creating a welcoming environment or even by providing a bespoke in-store experience. Rather it needs to be curated within the company culture itself.

Company values, morals, and attitudes must intrinsically link with customer’s needs to increase their satisfaction and encourage e-loyalty.

Zappos, a US-based online shoe and clothing company, is famous for its customer retention. 75% of their business comes from repeat purchases. We have identified 5 ways in which Zappos’ corporate culture attracts customers, implicitly generating genuine e-loyalty.

Here’s what we have taken as a how-to guide from Zappos:

  • Be interactive
  • Surprise your customers
  • Make life easy
  • Be transparent
  • Be consistent

 

Be interactive

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Customers have become accustomed to declining human interaction at the point of purchase. However, Zappos has found value in capturing the customer’s undivided attention through interaction. Zappos’ employees are well-prepared to build a personal, memorable connection with the customer, by using positive and informative conversations not limited by scripts or time restrictions.

They utilise social media, in particular, Twitter. They brilliantly and constantly use this platform to engage with their customers but also respond to their queries about their products. This personalised customer interaction stems from Zappos’ prioritisation of customer experience, and therefore retention, over additional sales.

 

Surprise your customers

Creating a memorable moment for your customer can go a long way in obtaining loyalty. Even a small, unexpected gesture can generate immense happiness above and beyond customer initial expectations. In this way, Zappos aims to “wow the customer”.

For example, a Zappos’ customer contacted them to request an overnight delivery on some shoes she had purchased  as her son needed them for school the next day. Zappos responded by not only shipping the shoes earlier than originally requested, but they also waived the overnight delivery fee and placed a handwritten “Good Luck” note within the package.

This level of customer service went above and beyond the customer’s needs.  And it was possible because of the company “wow” ethos that enables their employees to go that extra mile. This demonstrates the considerate and thoughtful culture within Zappos, that has worked so well in generating long term customer loyalty.

 

Make life easy

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E-businesses have had to face resistance from some customers about the logistics involved in purchasing online. For instance, what if the Halloween costume does not fit, or a Christmas present doesn’t arrive on time? Zappos aims to mitigate the risk of dissatisfaction by eliminating shipping fees on returns, providing a step by step guide on how to return, and offering guaranteed overnight or two-day shipping.

Zappos truly believe in keeping things simple and clear within their company, which reflects back on the kind of painless customer service they provide.

 

Be transparent

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Customers who understand your business will be more inclined to make purchases from you. E-businesses have no physical location with which to develop a sense of belonging Therefore, it is essential that they share their culture, goals and experiences transparently in order to build that familiarity.

“Zappos Insights” gives customers a chance to get to know the real Zappos culture. In addition to virtual tours of the Zappos HQ, they describe the company’s “10 Core Values”, provide Zappos’s customers with a fact sheet, and list several testimonials.

Zappos transparency around their internal culture and values is definitely not a consumer expectation. However, it helps build trust and credibility, thus contributing to e-loyalty.

 

Be consistent

Consistency in customer interaction is key; one substandard experience and all trust can be lost. Consistency is achieved when all employees have the same set of core values and the same attitude towards customer satisfaction, both of which should be determined within the hiring process.

Zappos understand how important this compatibility is, and therefore offer any employees unable to embrace their company culture a monetary incentive to leave their employ. That is to say, they want their employees to be loyal to the company and to their impeccable customer service ethos.

The message is: we are willing to invest in employees that are in this for the long term. They feel that paying employees to quit is less expensive than a high turnover of employees that do not share their innate values. Thus, demonstrating the importance of consistent service for their customers.

 

Conclusion

Given the accessibility of substitutes in ecommerce, corporate transparency is a way in which companies can differentiate themselves from competitors. Gaining loyalty is definitely not easy but Zappos proves that shared values between consumers and businesses can help in increasing customer satisfaction, which is undoubtedly a start.

 

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