Customer loyalty and retention are related but different concepts. Loyalty is an attitudinal measure that indicates how much customers prefer to stay with a given company. It may be measured as likelihood to renew a service or repurchase a product.
In contrast, retention is a behavioral measure that indicates whether customers actually stay with or repurchase from a company. It can be measured as the percentage of customers that stay with or repurchase from a company over time.
It is possible to have loyalty without retention. For example, one auto insurance customer may feel loyal to an insurance provider, but may switch to a different insurer after buying a new car. It is also possible to have retention without loyalty. Another customer may not like an insurance company, but might stay with them anyway. This customer has been retained, but not loyal.
Both customer loyalty and retention are affected by the customer experience with various “touch points,” which are specific ways in which customers interact with a company. For example, touch points for an insurance customer might include shopping for insurance, buying insurance, asking questions, changing a policy, renewing a policy, filing a claim, or cancelling a policy.
Two key questions can help a company decide where to invest resources to improve the customer experience:
- Which touch points have the greatest impact on customers’ loyalty and retention?
- What attributes or characteristics of the customer experience are most important at those touch points?
MMR Strategy Group uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods to measure and analyze customer loyalty, retention, and the customer experience, including the following:
- In-depth interviews (IDIs) with long-term and/or frequent customers to discuss what attracts them to the product or service.
- Focus groups and other discussions with customers who have high potential customer lifetime value (CLV) but have not demonstrated loyalty.
- Surveys of current and lost customers to understand which touch points are most important and represent the best opportunities for improvement.
- Driver analysis to evaluate what factors best drive outcomes such as customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction.
- Customer journey mapping to describe the various stages of the customer experience, establish metrics, and identify opportunities for improvement.