How to build a loyalty strategy that measures behavior + emotion

Emily Gates | Aug 10, 2017 Emily Gates 08/10/17

Think about your last purchase: Did you buy from a brand that was convenient—maybe on your route from home to office? Or did you buy from a brand that you visit over and over not because it’s particularly convenient or affordable—but because it’s a brand you love and want to spend your money with?

I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve done either. And maybe even times when a brand has met both criteria—being a place you love that also appeals to your rational need for convenience and price and all the other stuff that makes logical sense. (I know when my favorite taco place opened up around the corner, I felt like I’d won the jackpot! No more long treks for a shrimp taco!)

The fact is, when it comes to customer loyalty, both matter. And according to Forrester, brands need to evaluate both customer emotion and behavior to have a complete loyalty equation. But how do you do that?

Measure behavioral loyalty with customer actions

Measurement of behavioral loyalty is relatively straightforward. Is a customer visiting your brand and spending money with you? If so, that’s a demonstration of behavioral loyalty. In Forrester’s report Improve Loyalty Measurement With Behavioral And Emotional Metrics, they outline several ways to get at behavioral loyalty. These are in the realm of tangible business results like:

  • Repurchase rates
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Interaction metrics (e.g., time onsite, mobile app session times, response rates)
  • Share of wallet

What do they all have in common? They can be measured by concrete, customer actions. They’ll also prove to your c-suite that loyalty is important, because it’s tied to hard numbers that impact your business.

Add context with emotional loyalty

Now for the tricky side of the loyalty equation—emotional loyalty. Any living, breathing human will tell you: Emotions can be hard to define. And any brand will tell you: Emotions can be hard to measure. How do you get at that intangible, squishy feeling that means a customer is emotionally loyal to your brand? For example, I know that I love my favorite retailer and that I’ll go out of my way to shop there, but it’s hard for me to express why exactly I choose to visit that brand—even with plenty of other options.

Yet emotional loyalty is critically important and gives context to actions—adding a why to customer behaviors. It shouldn’t be ignored. There are a few ways to go about measuring it, which we discuss in our white paper Best practices for using emotional loyalty in CX measurement :

1. Ask.
Sounds simple, right? It kind of is. But it comes with a caveat—you have to ask about emotional loyalty in a way that makes sense to the consumer. If you ask them something high on the subjectivity spectrum, like “Rate how much you love this brand,” your responses will be based on thousands of different interpretations of what that phrase means. On the other hand, if you ask something low on the subjectivity spectrum, like “How likely are you to shop this brand in the next 30 days?” you’ll get much more uniform responses. There’s only one way to interpret that question.


2. Tap open-ended sentiment.
Your customers are already responding to open-ended questions. With text analytics, you can detect positive and negative sentiment in the wording of their comments to understand their feelings associated with an interaction. In this way, you can absorb and quantify diverse expressions of emotions volunteered by your customers.

Living at the loyalty intersection

When you have both ends of the loyalty equation, you can understand how loyal customers act, and how loyal customers feel. Because it’s really at that intersection of customers who act loyal and customers who feel loyal—that you’ll find customers who are loyal.


Learn how to put the full loyalty equation into practice  

Next week we’re hosting a webinar on the topic, featuring a guest speaker from Forrester. We’ll cover real client examples and discuss ways to apply behavioral and emotional loyalty measures to your CX program.

Emily Gates
Director, Client Insights

Customer Experience Update