In the manufacturing B2B space, most of us believe our customers are loyal since we keep getting repeat business from them over time. It is also perceived that the capital equipment purchase in manufacturing is driven by the same sentiment because it is fairly common to see lines of machines from the same manufacturer. However, a different picture emerges when we seriously ponder over the noble quality of loyalty and its attributes.
Faithfulness in a relationship inherently implies adhering to the chosen one and not getting strayed by equally or more attractive options. The emotion is far from being logical. It is similarly irrational when an existing customer continues to do business with a company even when a cheaper, more convenient or even higher-quality machine is available from another. The decision of sticking to the same company, despite enough knowledge of a better offer, has more to do with the buyer than the seller.
There is a great divide between loyalty and repeat sales. Technology, price, aesthetics help influence the initial sales, whereas repeat sales happen due to familiarity, habit, and difficulties in switching. Repeat buying is a calculated move driven by sellers who sweeten the deal, making it difficult for the existing buyer to leave. Loyalty, on the other hand, is led by an emotional connect. It stems from the buyer’s belief system and identity, which are deeply personal. He must be able to relate to the company’s philosophy, its way of doing business and what it stands for.
Apple customers best exemplify the loyalty in question. While the price of any Apple product is at least 25 to 40 percent more than its competition’s products that offer higher specifications in phones, tabs, note books and computers, Apple has no threat with regard to its customer base. They remain fiercely dedicated, having no qualms with fewer peripheral choices, difference in chargers, proprietary software etc. The decision to buy an Apple is emotional and owning it reflects a sense of identity.
Closer home akin to the Harley Davidson furor is our very own Enfield motorcycle following, which helps to reiterate that loyalty is more about a company’s ability to express a distinct sense of why they exist and what they believe in rather than what they make or the quality of what they make. The clearer the belief, the greater the appeal of the company to those with similar beliefs.
From a Machine Tool perspective, the philosophy of service—standing with the customer in times of need, handholding him with a strong belief of customer support and practicing the belief across the company—drives loyalty. When put in practice, the company reflects an authentic belief system that will be supported by a loyal customer base.
“The decision of sticking to the same company, despite enough knowledge of a better offer, has more to do with the buyer than the seller.”
T K Ramesh
Whole time Director and CEO
Micromatic Machine Tools Pvt Ltd