How You Can Develop Customer Loyalty
How You Can Develop Customer Loyalty
Understanding and repeating what motivates your customers.
I don’t care about your latest customer satisfaction survey. I don’t believe in them. I want to know how loyal your customers are. So how do you check up on your customer loyalty? You should not have to ask a single customer about their level of satisfaction to get your answers. The answers mostly lie within your databases of customer data, although you may be missing one very key metric.
Let’s start with a reminder of my definition of customer loyalty, that will give you all the clues you need. A loyal customer is someone who, every time they are in the need for your product/service comes to you AND every time they hear about someone in the need for your product/service they tell them about you. I capitalized the “and” because true loyalty generates both responses. It is the second half of that statement that generates your profitable growth. Think of it as “free” advertising. But it isn’t.
Nothing is free, right? The cost to you is ensuring the trust of every loyal customer over time. How? It starts with ensuring whatever experience they had at your company that initially satisfied them enough to come back is repeated over and over and over again. Why so many overs? You must do this with every new customer and then with that same customer every time they are a repeat customer. That is how you build the trust required for them to become truly loyal.
Think about it, how many times do you recommend something to your friends or family that you had a bad experience with? How about if you had one satisfactory experience? Most people only truly recommend products and services that they have not only had a good experience with, but over time that experience was retained or even enhanced. That, ultimately, is what makes something a great experience.
So how do you check up on your customer loyalty? Please don’t do a survey, at least don’t ask customers if they were happy. If you don’t already know what makes your customers truly enjoy their experience with your company, that is a huge problem. You better find out, and do that soon. The best way to find out though isn’t through a survey, per se, but it’s by talking to your customers directly about what they truly like, truly dislike, and truly want from their experience with you that you may not be providing. As the leader of your company, this should be done by you, so you get direct feedback. In addition, talking to real clients and asking such questions in and of itself can help build loyalty.
Assuming you do have a handle on what makes your customers loyal, then your focus changes to process. You obviously have figured out the thing that attracts customers to return the most, but are you sure your staff can repeat that experience over and over and over? And it’s not just the delivery of the product or service that matters, there are support processes that may only be loosely defined that need to be tightened up so they don’t create problems in your customer loyalty processes. They are just as important. In fact, every process within your company should be viewed with an eye towards customer loyalty.
Constantly measuring yourself against your goals, constantly improving upon those goals, and constantly creating a loyal customer environment. That is the ultimate overriding process that needs to be implemented within your company. It’s called re-engineering and it should be something that is built into everything that is your business. That means the people, the culture, the training, the communications, the processes, the messaging, and so on. Every aspect of your business, including the product/services itself, should be under some process of constant scrutiny.
Without inward scrutiny and due diligence true long-term customer loyalty cannot be achieved or guaranteed. Your challenge this week is to take that inward look and determine where are you in the process of developing a solid customer loyalty plan?
We can help…reach out!
Mitchell Bolnick – The Excel Consulting Group