How Talking Loyalty at CX Exchange Pushed Our Thinking Forward

Jul 7, 2020 · 4 min read

This article was originally published July 24th, 2018

I love speaking.

Just the other day at the incredibly useful CX Exchange Retail event, I spoke about how customer loyalty towards retailers doesn’t exist. It sparked lively debate and resulted in us creating a Loyalty solution as a result. But loyalty doesn’t exist! It’s all so confusing, and that’s because while loyalty really doesn’t exist, something a lot like it can be identified and won by retailers. I’ll explain what and how shortly. I’ll also throw in a sneak preview at the private beta of a new tool we’ve created to help you win something not a billion miles from customer loyalty…

I started this blog with ‘I’. You’re not supposed to do that, if there were a blog-writing school — there probably is a blog writing school, and I bet the Dean is a jerk and the jocks write sports blogs and the nerds like me write the data ones and eventually through some sort of improbable set of circumstances get the girl/boy after all, while the jocks learn something important about themselves and the power of blog. All the while the emo blog-writers look on at this power struggle with a distant distain and then go write blogs about organisation structure and the role of HR in modern businesses — then leading with ‘I’ is almost certainly featured in Day One’s first session on ‘what to never do in a blog’.

But I do love speaking and get asked to do it a lot; so it becomes a real dilemma because so many people ask me to speak at their thing and there’s only so many hours in the day. When the ever lovely Darren Williams demands that you come do a session at a two-day customer experience event he’s chairing though, you can only say ‘yes’. I’m so glad I did, I’ve never been to one of CX Exchange’s events but I’d heard good stories and this turned out to be incredibly useful all round.

What a cracking event it was; 65 customer experience pros all trying to solve similar problems, thrown together into a practical environment to share stories, talk through solutions, offer up ideas and generally work as a collaborative group to gain new perspectives. I can highly recommend CX Exchange to anyone, and I’m not being paid to say that (nor, incidentally, has anyone at CX asked for an endorsement). I left with new ideas and I know delegates did too.

I ran a session on customer loyalty, which could have ended pretty quickly as my third slide read simply ‘LOYALTY TO RETAILERS DOESN’T EXIST’. Which as I said, it doesn’t and I will fight anyone who wants to claim otherwise. Towards brands? Yes, loyalty a-plenty but customers won’t defend Currys to the death versus the electricals department on Amazon like they will Apple versus Samsung. It’s one of those distracting myths; if as retailers we believe that customer loyalty to us is real then we end up making disastrously poor investments and strategic decisions.

What is possible, and what is sexy as hell strategically-speaking, is gaining first-visit advantage. That’s the status in which customers on a given shopper mission will give you the first bite of the cherry; the first opportunity to meet their needs. They will open your app first, type in your address first, park at your end of town, or get off the bus at the stop nearest you.

How do you win first-visit advantage? By thinking friction/reward; even Amazon, who you might suggest commands deep loyalty, as soon as a much lower-friction option offering the same level of reward emerges, as unlikely as that is to happen in the short run, but all empires eventually fall, then customers will promiscuously and happily skip away to that new option.

Even better, match the friction but boost the reward and do so with tight focus on what you can do specific to shopper mission and in the right need-state context; do that and you’ll start to pull customers away to your option. It’s not instant, you’ll need to use your communications channels to reach customers and tell them how things have changed but this in and of itself is another good reason to think friction/reward; you can drive your messaging from the joined up insight into what frictions customers want cleared and which rewards really matter to them.

To give you a taster of this kind of thinking; we’ve produced a little Healthcheck app that uses your opinion of your current CX to generate useful headline thoughts around how friction/reward aligns for your customers. Take a look here; this is a sneak preview of our beta, feel free to share, but share wisely!

Speaking at CX Exchange Retail and then talking around the subject with some brilliant and thought-provoking delegates afterwards had another maybe surprising outcome: it helped push our thinking further as the world’s first friction/reward indexing platform. As a result, we’ve developed a solution we call the Uncrowd Loyalty Maker™; a friction/reward tracking tool that does all of the things I’ve talked about above and spits out rich actionable insight that shows retailers how to become first-choice and to dominate share of wallet as a result. There’s more detail in the healthcheck app at or get in touch with me direct on

The Uncrowd

After the customer analytics herd there is the…