But once the customer finds that retailer, what builds lasting loyalty is not so much trust as gratitude. In the U.S., researchers at University of Washington, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, San Jose State University, and University of Cincinnati found that when a customer is aware of their gratitude to a retailer, they become more likely to purchase items from that retailer.
In Italy, researchers at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi looked at relationships between six emotions and what the shopper with those emotions did after completion of the purchase. The six emotions were anger, gratitude, guilt, happiness, pride, and sadness. The four behaviors were complaining to the retailer, criticizing the retailer when talking to other people (negative word of mouth), expressing an intention to make a future purchase, and praising the retailer when talking to other people (positive word of mouth).
The greater the extent to which customers said they felt grateful to the retailer for helping to solve a problem or satisfy a need, the more likely the customer was to praise the retailer to others and to say they intended to shop with that retailer again. In the study, there were no significant correlations between customer happiness, on the one hand, and either positive word of mouth or repurchase intention, on the other hand.
Continually give your customers reasons to be grateful to you and to your store. Then solidify your relationships with customers by locking in their gratitude to you.
- Even better than general praise are thank you’s for specific actions you’ve taken to benefit the customer. When a customer shares one with you, reply, “I’m pleased I could help you out.”
- On any customer attitude surveys, ask for specifics of what your store did well. When the customer replies, that’s helping to lock in the gratitude.
- Consider asking for paybacks. Research at University of Toronto indicates that with customers you know by name, asking the person to recommend you to family and friends in the future works well. With customers you don’t know by name, asking them to complete a comments card immediately is a better choice.
Go for Customer Gratitude and Guilt