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Stay Ahead of the Changing Channel Loyalty Landscape

Jane Sarles Larson

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Customer trust is the new customer loyalty. “Loyalty is about the future—trust is about the present,” says Lynda Gratton, a workplace expert. People do business with those they trust. And trust isn’t built overnight—it’s built day-by-day by providing top-notch customer service with the right product or service at the right time at a reasonable price.

More importantly, it’s about creating brand advocates by engaging your partners in new and unique ways.


Develop Lasting Relationships

You know what your partners need. But do you know what they want? Partners expect consistent experiences, yes; but what about giving them something above and beyond that can reap huge benefits? When done correctly, it builds a relationship within your channel which leads to trust. In short, always be selling, but connect and communicate, too.

Build a lasting relationship with your audience by giving them valuable, relevant content that entertains and educates. This is a more personalized approach to engaging your channel that requires a deeper understanding of your channel segments. To earn the trust of today’s customers, brands must “get” them on a personal level.

The good news? Once you make an emotional connection with your partners, you get much more than traditional loyalty—you get passionate, engaged advocates of your business. Connecting with customers this way offers three times the return of just satisfying them.


What Drives Loyalty?

The changing channel loyalty landscape means future-forward companies will embrace customer-obsessed marketing that demonstrates channel understanding and customer experience. According to a recent report from Forrester, loyalty should be measured using both behavioral and emotional drivers.

Behavioral or transactional drivers typically include financial and sales metrics, customer service scores, retention tallies, etc. Emotional or attitudinal factors (across all industries) include the level to which your partners feel confident, happy, respected and valued in their relationship with your people and brand. Weaving a combination of metrics associated with internal and external motivators is a holistic strategy towards understanding how trust and connection in your channel impacts your business.

For example, Xerox wanted to understand how attitudinal factors affected performance among their 1,000+ resellers. They discovered “a high correlation (75%) between channel satisfaction (defined as the degree of trust, commitment, conflict and co-operation) and the reseller’s willingness to develop sales.” The study also noted that reseller satisfaction was “significantly dependent” upon how they felt about their relationship with Xerox. The products, delivering on their promise and support, was less important.

Related: Learn more about our strategies for driving authentic, lasting emotional connections.


Channel Your Focus

Not all partners are the same. Channel partners occupy a critical position in the brand value chain and relationship management is far more complex than traditional loyalty programs. Do the research. Interact. Ask questions of your partners. Take time to understand the unique drivers of the people in your channel segments.

Nurturing strong relationships takes a focused and concerted effort to develop trust and brand advocacy. It begins at the person-to-person level. “Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time,” says Lolly Daskal, President and CEO, Lead From Within.

Channel customers who trust their partners have less price sensitivity and offer more recommendations to others for their partners’ products and services. In addition, B2B brand advocacy leaders grow 4-8% above their market’s growth. Everyone wins.

The channel loyalty landscape is changing. Start building trust now and brand advocacy will follow. Begin forging an emotional connection with your channel partners with the help of our ebook, Brand Advocacy and the Emotionally Connected Customer.

Jane Sarles Larson's picture

Jane Sarles Larson

As the Research Manager for ITA Group’s Marketing Strategy, Jane is on the forefront of market research and thought leadership. Her interest in neuroscience and how it applies to human behavior and engagement has led to the development of ITA Group’s approach to motivation called Motivology. Her 30+ years of international advertising, sales and marketing experience is second only to her knowledge of dark chocolate.