Stairway to Brand Heaven & Hell — Creating Loyalty/Disloyalty

July 13, 2008 · 0 comments

I came across a very interesting graphic today showing how a company can progress to either loyalty or disloyalty — it can be applied to any brand, whether it’s a rewards program or a specific merchant. It’s nothing terribly ground-breaking (basically common sense) but it’s an interesting way to visualize the concepts.
What’s happening now with is an example of how a company can have the ultimate in loyalty but can make decisions that may seem to make business sense, yet alienate its customers, causing a swift downward slide toward disloyalty.
Jellyfish started as a cashback shopping site, not much different from any other rebate portal. What propelled the company beyond loyalty all the way to evangelism was the introduction several months later of its reverse auction feature. The site had wonderful customer service and was very receptive to customer suggestions, and members ate it up — making visiting the site a part of their daily routine, creating Jellyfish Firefox extensions, Jellyfish How-To sites, databases of prior Jellyfish reverse auction purchase prices, Jellyfish off-site chat rooms and YahooGroups, organizing Jellyfish member meet-ups, creating a Jellyfish member calendar, even sending gifts to Jellyfish headquarters like flowers and cookies.
Then the website was purchased by Microsoft, and the slide down the Loyalty Stairway began. Response time for emails to Jellyfish customer service began to increase. Microsoft pulled out the cashback shopping arm of Jellyfish for use as the new Microsoft Live Search Cashback. And most recently, Microsoft eliminated the 24/7 reverse auctions in favor of one two-hour “show” on weekdays only. Long-time Jellyfish members are furious that their loyalty is being “repaid” in this manner. Decisions that may seem to make sense to Microsoft from a business standpoint are destroying the evangelical fervor that Jellyfish members once had for the site, an asset that other companies would kill for.
Can Microsoft/Jellyfish turn it around and regain the trust, and eventually the loyalty, of its members before it’s too late? Its actions in the immediate future will determine that. But I’d caution them: let your customers spend too long in the depths of Disloyalty Hell and it’ll be harder, if not impossible, to make that uphill climb.

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