man buying ice cream from a truck as his dog sits nearby
PHOTO: Jahsie Ault

In April, Google shook up the enterprise cloud computing world with the introduction of Anthos, a hybrid and multi-cloud management platform that enables organizations to manage workloads not only on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) but also competing services, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). While Microsoft and Amazon both sell hybrid management solutions that connect their own clouds with customers’ on-prem hardware, Google Anthos is the first cloud management platform that will play nicely with competitors’ cloud offerings.

Why would Google build a solution that makes it easier for customers to work with competitors’ products, especially since GCP ranks a distant third behind AWS and Azure in market share? Because multi-cloud is by far the preferred strategy of modern businesses, with 84% preferring it over a single-cloud solution. Google knows it needs to play some serious catch-up in the enterprise cloud computing market, and it’s hoping to accomplish that by simply meeting customers where they are: by adjusting their product so it fits customers’ preferences.

To engender customer loyalty, GCP is demonstrating that it is loyal to its customers. It is proclaiming its company loyalty.

What Is Company Loyalty?

It used to be, businesses defined themselves according to their products or services. Companies told customers what to buy and dictated the terms under which buyers could transact and communicate with them. This worked well enough because, in most cases, consumers didn’t have a plethora of competing choices at their fingertips. They also weren’t connected 24/7 and didn’t expect the businesses they transacted with to be, either.

Then, the Digital Age arrived, bringing mobile technology and 24/7 connectivity that fundamentally altered buyer expectations and habits. Suddenly, customers had nearly endless buying choices at their fingertips, anywhere and anytime. They became quite fickle, willing to switch brands at the drop of a hat and scoffing at the notion that they should be loyal to brands that obviously felt no loyalty towards them. Savvy businesses realized that to survive in this brave new marketplace, they had to put their customers, not their products or services, at the center of their enterprises. They had to demonstrate company loyalty.

Company loyalty is about meeting customers where they are, and following them wherever they’re going. Businesses that demonstrate company loyalty stay in tune with their customer demographics and their evolving needs and desires.

Related Article: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Customer Experience and Loyalty

Customer-Centric Customer Service Demonstrates Company Loyalty

Being loyal to your customers could mean carving out a more niche route for your brand, one that avoids the mistakes of your less in-tune competitors. JetBlue is a perfect example of how meeting human needs without driving up prices can turn a low-cost carrier into a world-class company. Named by Forbes as the best transportation and logistics employer, the airline has earned the respect of consumers and competitors alike simply by providing outstanding customer service and amenities with a sense of humanity and humor.

Meeting customers where they are is thus not only about offering products and services that will meet their needs but also delivering customer service and support on customers’ terms. The buying environment is not the only thing that has been digitally transformed. Today’s digital consumers have wildly different customer service expectations than buyers did 25 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Customer service 800-numbers and even email are going the way of the horse and buggy. Modern consumers see phone calls and emails as inconvenient. They want omnichannel customer interactions and digital communication options that are interconnected. Modern implementations of live chat can now support that: they allow starting a conversation on a company’s website and then continuing it in the company’s mobile app as the consumer leaves the office and starts their commute. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are built for portability, so is SMS.

While most digital-age consumers want seamless integration of their favorite communication channels, some are still leery of AI in certain emerging technologies. Thus, it’s important not to push for too much too soon. Leave open the channels of communication that your consumer demographic is still comfortable using, while slowly introducing the emerging technologies that an increasing number of them have begun to embrace. Presenting it as an option, rather than a mandate, will help to attract a younger demographic without alienating more conservative customers. 

According to an article in USA Today, Nordstrom saw record-breaking sales in 2017, thanks to its digital, ecommerce initiatives and off-price retailer, Nordstrom Rack. A few perks of being its customer include free shipping and returns, same-day delivery on in-stock items at local stores, in-store pickup, a “text to buy” app, and optional text notifications.

Businesses that demonstrate their loyalty to their customers — by giving them the products and services they need, and transacting and communicating with them on their terms — will reap the rewards of long- and short-term profits.