What are the ‘hygiene factors’ of customer loyalty?

In Customer Experience, Loyalty & CRM by emily4 Comments


There's a term in business management called ‘hygiene factors'. It describes elements of the workplace that can lead to employee dissatisfaction. These typically include pay, conditions and relationships with peers. Although these factors might not make the employee satisfied, if there is a problem with any of these, it will certainly make them dissatisfied.

It's a term that has resonance in the field of customer loyalty. If all is well the customer might not love you, but when something is wrong, the customer will certainly have negative feelings. If you want an example, just read this blog post from a Barnes & Noble customer whose e-edition of the New York Times doesn't arrive on time each morning. It's really annoying him and his loyalty to that company running out fast. What's also interesting is the fact that he is wondering whether Amazon would do a better job – it's leading to customer disloyalty.

So what are the ‘hygiene factors' of customer loyalty? What does business need to get right to make sure customers don't become disloyal. Here are my initial suggestions – what do you think?

1. The speed at which the customer gets to speak to a human about a problem

2. A ‘can do' attitude from customer service personnel

3. Ease of purchase – someone there to serve, an easy to navigate website

4. Recognition of customers who are loyal

.5 Good customer care policies, such as returns and refunds


  1. Emily

    billquisengMay 22, 4:00pm via HootSuiteWhat are the ‘hygiene factors’ of customer loyalty? via @customerss ow.ly/b4sBj I’d add: 6. Problem resolution on first contact.

    Twitter reply from customer service speaker Bill Quiseng. What would you add?

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Emily,
    There are many who debate whether hygiene factors actually create customer loyalty.  Others claim customer loyalty is fleeting. Still others say it depends on the generation, the industry, etc…

    When my clients swirl in this debate, I advise them to focus on basic customer service truths many of which you have listed here as hygiene factors. 

    These truths (customer recognition, ease, quick access, can do attitude, and customer friendly processes) are essential for having customers right now and, I believe, in the long view.

    You ask what I would add to this list? 
    Deep consistency of care that is at the heart of the company culture, the thoughts of company executives, and every action of every employee.   Anyone can have a fleeting positive experience with a customer service person who happens to be nice. Yet one bad moment reveals what the company truly believes about the customer.

    The challenge of excellence is consistency (not scripted repetition) and to achieve it — the company must see customer experience as the oxygen of its existence.

    Some posts that expand this:
    The Super Glue of Customer Experience

    Super Customer Experience: Loyalty Not Imprisonment.

    So pleased to connect with you on this heart felt topic of success and survival Emily.

    You captured many of the essentials.

  3. Emily

    Thanks so much for your input Kate. Its so true what you say about frontline staff, they are essential. It reminds me of an answer Stephan Dupré, Director Loyalty Marketing, Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts recently gave us. He said: 

    “One of today’s most repeated words, when it comes to loyalty, is not “Loyalty”. We hear “Trust”, “Likeability”, “Relationship” and even “Love”. The relation between a brand and its customers has changed, and so should the strategies in service delivery. In hospitality, the most important touch point between the brand and the customer is the employee in the lobby, at the restaurant or behind the bar. All the glossy collateral and fancy websites cannot make or break a programme, but one wrong word from the colleague at reception desk can. Nothing is more disastrous than that two-letter word “no”, or saying to a loyal member that he cannot redeem his hard earned points with us right now. We need to empower our colleagues to say “yes”, or to offer alternatives without having to ask a superior, to deliver a service from the heart, simple, genuine and generous, and that supports our image of a trustworthy, likeable, and why not even lovable brand.”

Leave a Comment