When consumer love is skin deep

I had heard stories of very loyal customers displaying their love for a brand in very visible forms – for instance, shaving a company’s logo on your head:

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Or, for the true fan, getting a tattoo:

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Or lots…

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These customers have strong emotional loyalty towards the brands, which means that they will be more forgiving than the average customer, and less price sensitive. Just what every business wants, right?

Not necessarily. According to this paper, while customers with a strong relationship with the brand may be more forgiving, when they do complain publicly (e.g., on website), they also exhibited a heightened desire for revenge (e.g., tell friends about the problems they experienced) and avoidance (e.g., cut interactions with the firm). This desire is not only more intense than that of other customers, but also lasts longer.

It is a bleak picture.

Once emotionally committed customers complain publicly, they seem unable to let go – love turns into hate, and patronage seems lost!

There is hope, however.

According to the same paper, admission of wrong doing and a heartfelt apology go a long way towards attenuating dissatisfaction of high-relationship-quality customers . This type of exchange is more effective in attenuating the desire for revenge than a generous financial offer – e.g., compensation of product replacement, for instance. The opposite happens with customers without such an emotional connection to the brand: with such customers the size of the financial compensation is the key factor in preventing revenge or avoidance behaviours.

Now, if only there was a way to spot tattoos and fancy hairstyles in online interactions…

2 thoughts on “When consumer love is skin deep

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