The previous column described the various dimensions of CCC Quality. Of course the next question is, what is the impact of CCC Quality on satisfaction, trust, commitment and loyalty? My research showed good quality of customer service to have the greatest impact on satisfaction and trust, and therefore to play an important role in creating sustainable loyalty.
Theories on loyalty often distinguish between long-term loyalty (so-called true loyalty) and shorter term loyalty (so-called spurious loyalty). Long-term loyalty is aimed particularly at reinforcing the customer’s feelings in order to influence his loyalty. Those feelings are then translated into trust and commitment. As a customer, once I feel more confident about the organization, I also feel more committed. And that directly influences my loyalty, expressed in mouth-to-mouth advertising and the intention to make repeat purchases. Loyalty created in this way is much less sensitive to ad hoc efforts made by competitors. Customers will be much less likely to switch simply because the competition is offering them a nice price.
Short-term loyalty on the other hand, is explicitly aimed at directly influencing customers’ (buying) behavior. Special price offers can tempt customers to immediately buy the product, for example. However, the disadvantage of this type of loyalty is that customers will switch straight to the next new special offer by competitors, and purchase the product there.
My research therefore shows that CCC Quality has a positive influence on satisfaction with, trust in and commitment to the organization as a whole. And so customer service is an important value adder in increasing the true loyalty of customers. Superficially speaking, customer service is a brief transaction: the customer calls to ask a question, receive an answer and that’s it. However this does not do justice to the underlying role played by customer service. The customer service department is there to help customers when they need someone, during the so-called moments of truth. Many customers no longer have an account manager or office which they can visit, and they are therefore fully dependent on the CCC for any questions or problems. As soon as the CCC is actually there for them, this increases the sense of trust in the organization.
This allows the customer service department to once and for all adopt a more strategic role in order to increase loyalty, alongside the more operational role of efficient handling of customer contact moments.