Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. Customer loyalty is at an all-time low. Why?
Simple. Satisfied customers will shop anywhere. Satisfaction is not any indication that the customer will repeat a purchase. As a consumer, you have often been satisfied and never returned to that place of business.
A more complicated reason is that business is just now discovering that satisfaction is no longer the measure of customer success – loyalty is.
What is a loyal customer? One who will create positive word-of-mouth advertising about you, refer other people to do business with you, and fight before they switch from you to a competitor.
Well, Jeffrey, how do you make customers loyal to you? Is it low price? No, the second someone offers a lower price, the customer becomes “loyal” to that lowest price. There’s more to loyalty than money. Money is usually the bait used to lure loyal customers from their present supplier. The lower the loyalty, the more they’ll take the bait.
Loyal occurs if you’re first in the mind of the customer when they want what you sell. A satisfied customer is the last to tell you they decided to buy someplace else. Loyal, first to know. Satisfied, last to know. Hmmmm.
Loyal is best understood when related to the word, “fan.” When you go to a college, or grow up in a city, you are a loyal “fan” of their sporting teams. Fan is short for fanatic. How many fanatic customers do you have?
Sports loyal is when you love one team and HATE their arch rival (their main competition). Who loves you?
To make it even more complex, loyalty is not a one action event. If it were, everyone would go out and do it. Loyalty evolves like loyalty to a spouse or friend. It matures (or dissolves) over time, based on your deeds, actions and words. So how do you get customers (people) to be loyal to you or your business? Since loyalty doesn’t just “happen,” the answer is a question: What are the elements that breed loyalty?
Here are a few:
Being unusual where usual is expected. Changing the boring stuff you do every day to WOW the customer and create atmosphere where the customer “has to” tell others how great it was. Email, voice mail, phone greeting, invoices. Standard stuff you change to SET the new standard.
Getting business for your customers and prospects. If you want to build loyalty beyond belief, just start GETTING your customers hot leads and prospects that turn into business for them. Now when you call your customers, they won’t know if you’re buying or selling.
Giving your customers and prospects valuable information to help build their business. Your customers want answers, not always more of your product. If you want customers forever, become valuable, become a resource they can’t live without.
Give proactive service. Calling customers to tell them they need service or supplies just before they were about to call you. Letting them know when the “deals” are coming up. Doing something memorable for them, so that they call others and tell them about you.
Service way beyond the sale. Offering product use tips and information that help your customer build her business or achieve her goals.
Give the best service they’ve ever had. Having great service is at the heart of the loyalty process. Service that starts with yes, provides solutions and ends with WOW.
Having friendly service. How important is friendly? Ask yourself where you LOVE to do business, and I’ll bet everyone there is friendly. Your customers want the same from you.
Answering the phone and helping in a memorable way. How do you feel automated computer phone answering sets with customers? How do you like it? Does it breed or erode loyalty? Saving money by not having someone human greet your customers is the single best example of “penny wise, dollar foolish” of the twenty first century. Customers call for one reason – they want help. Why give them the hell of the computer?
Give something they’ll use every day and show to others. Delivering an ad specialty that’s so unique, they show or tell others. The difference between a coffee mug that sits in a drawer and one that’s shown to everyone is about $2.00. If it’s shown to twenty other people, that’s just $0.10 per WOW.
Going beyond the expected. They expect a delivery fee – set it up for free. They expect two week delivery – get it for them the next day.
Being fun, unusual, creative, and poignant. Being human in the world of business can set you apart more than you know. Become likable, and people will like to do business with you.
Loyal is the most difficult of the customer service goals to achieve. But once you have it, you have something your competition will never have: the next order.
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