People will net customer loyalty

Maybe those companies engaged in driving us online in order to streamline their operations (MW October 25) and drive cost out of their businesses would do well to remember that it was not so long ago that organisations tried to make us all convert to the telephone, away from face-to-face services, for the same reason.

Anyone who has ever bought anything over the Internet will know that sometimes you just want to talk to a person – albeit face to face or over the phone. The wisest of the wise, therefore, now offer that option at any time during a Net-based transaction, presumably as a response to recent Forrester research indicating that a high proportion of online transactions are never completed.

In the long term, those companies that choose to operate solely over the Net had better have well-established and well-entrenched brands that differentiate and engender a degree of trust. Virtual operations open brands up to new perils of low loyalty levels and limitless competitive threat. Technology will soon allow Net consumers to switch allegiance at the click of a mouse.

So yes, Alan Mitchell, brands must meet consumers’ transactional as well as functional needs in their Net-based transactions, but I would add that they must also look to their emotional wellbeing above all – if they would like to hang on to them as customers, that is.

Kevin Thompson

Managing director

Brandsmiths

London WC2

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