Whilst small businesses often have a close and continuous relationship with their customers, giant brands often have to rely on a more distant relationship, which makes “brand” essential for their progress and survival.

Brand loyalty is much sought-after by large companies and it is easy to see why, when a recent survey by Which? Magazine revealed three key facts:

  1. 94% of people said they were likely to continue buying from their favourite brands.
  2. 93% said that they would recommend the brand to others.
  3. 79% said that they would consider other products or services from the same brand.

There are a number of areas where people stick to a brand with some enthusiasm, almost the same way that they might support a sports team.  There are many famous “battles of the brands”, such as:

  1. Coke versus Pepsi
  2. Apple versus Samsung
  3. Apple versus Microsoft
  4. Tesco versus Sainsbury’s
  5. Canon versus Nikon
  6. Mercedes versus BMW

It is therefore easy to see how large companies such as retailers expand to provide a variety of different products, including financial services.

On the other hand, they also have to work hard to retain their customers.  The Which? Magazine survey highlighted six with several reasons that customers switch their loyalty to other brands:

  1. Disappointment with the quality of goods (73%).
  2. Failure of the company to handle a complaint properly (69%) - it is amazing how tolerant they can be if their complaints are handled well; it can often reinforce the relationship rather than destroy it.
  3. Poor customer service (65%) – customers do not have infinite patience with too many mistakes, inefficiency or rudeness. 
  4. Price (53%) - it is interesting to note that almost half of customers will be unlikely to switch based on price alone.
  5. Convenience - customers can be lured away by other brands if they offer greater convenience, such as telephone apps, free delivery etc.
  6. Negative headlines in the press about sustainability or ethics - if people invest their loyalty and pride, they do not want to be let down by the company.

There are clearly lessons for businesses of all sizes.   You should do everything you can to ensure that the quality of your goods and services is high and consistent.  If you do have any problems then make sure that you deal with your customers quickly, politely and effectively. If you get this right, you will have an even more loyal customer and they will tell other people how good you were in solving their problem. On the other hand, if you get this wrong, they will tell a very large number of people that they should not do business with you.

On the subject of pricing, you should be confident in the price of your product or service, in relation to the level of service you provide.  You do not have to have the lowest price in your market to succeed.  There is no point in you proudly boasting that you will work more cheaply than anybody else.

You should consider precisely what it is like to do business with you from the customer’s point of view and work hard to ensure that you provide every one of your customers with the maximum amount of convenience, whether this be online or in the physical world.

Finally, ensure that you conduct your social media, public relations and all day-to-day business activities in a way that will make your customers proud to do business with you.