What is customer commitment?
I noticed in a recent webinar invitation that JetBlue has a Manager of Customer Commitment and upon further searching, also has a group called the Customer Commitment Crew. That’s not a title or term I’ve seen much recently, so I started digging around to see if “customer commitment” is a trending role or term, but more importantly, a trending measurement in the CX space. If JetBlue is doing it, maybe we should pay attention. After all, unlike most airlines notorious for bad customer service, JetBlue has earned its two million plus Twitter followers and its reputation for fast, fun customer engagement and problem-solving.
From what I found, the term was frequently used back in the 1990s through the early 2000s, but it appears to be resurfacing. As an example of how it was used in the past, a 1998 report from the European Advances in Consumer Research showed that “the interest in the concept of customer commitment is steadily increasing.” Similarly, a definition from an older Pennsylvania University report studied the term, defining customer commitment as “the intention of a customer to maintain a long-term relationship with a supplier.”
Ok, great. But what about more recent use of this term? A 2015 report from Taylor Research and Consulting asserts that “…customer loyalty doesn’t (and can’t) truly exist, but customer commitment can and must be the goal for today’s and tomorrow’s best brands.”
If customer commitment should be a new goal, then how do we measure it?
The above-mentioned PU report based its findings on analysis of 303 customer-supplier relationships and found that “trust and value are powerful predictors of commitment.” It goes on to “…theorize that
relationships are driven by the need to create value. That can be both product based and relationship based. Trust is the doorway to successful relationships while value creation is the glue that leads to commitment. Commitment ensures a future for the relationship.”
To assess customer commitment, we need to collect feedback to measure the level of trust our customers feel and to gauge our perceived value. But, what else factors into the commitment equation? It’s the word of the year at Clicktools: engagement.
According to Taylor Research, “The bottom line here is that if you want customers who are committed to your brand—unmoved by competitive offers—you need to engage them with your brand. And the best way to fully engage your customers …[and]… to separate your brand from your competitors is to double down on whatever exclusivity and personalization you have to offer or can develop: exclusive offerings that make your customers realize they have too much to lose to even consider going elsewhere and personalized offerings that get your customers thoroughly engaged and fully invested in your brand.”
For ideas on how to drive engagement, click here to check out how our sibling CallidusCloud company, Badgeville, uses gamification and digital motivation to get people more plugged into the applications they already use. Also, take a look at this recent post: 5 tips to drive deeper customer engagement.
As an added note, if you engage customers with offerings and communications that your competitors can’t provide (as well as build trust by providing value), you’ll also see higher satisfaction scores as an outcome. However, since most of you already track CSAT, we won’t focus on that for the purpose of this article. Instead, simply consider the fact that your most satisfied customers can also be your most committed ones, if you work on developing the other three elements (trust, value, and engagement).
The question for today is how do we set models to start tracking those elements (and should we), which brings us back to the JetBlue example: In a recent interview, Laurie Meacham, JetBlue’s Manager of Customer Commitment, said that they purposely don’t measure response rates on Twitter because they want to encourage employees “to engage smartly, and for the conversations to be organic and natural. We look for opportunities to add value and connect with our customers, not just respond to every single mention that comes our way.”
So there you have it straight from the mouth of a Commitment Professional: authentic engagement, real value, and human connection (i.e. trust) add up to equal “customer commitment.” Stay tuned for more from us, particularly on the subjects of trust and engagement. These are big areas of interest going forward.