4 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty
So what is Loyalty all about? We all know we want to satisfy our customers, but let's talk about customer satisfaction. What are the key components of a satisfied customer:
- They believe you are providing them with satisfactory service
- They are not writing negative reviews about you (and aren't telling their friends how bad they think you are)
- They will leave in a minute for a better price, and they will not forgive you when you make a mistake
So how does that 90% customer satisfaction rate sound now? Loyal customers:
- Love you and tell their friends and family about you
- They will write positive reviews about your company
- They will not be searching for alternatives or lower prices
- If you make a mistake, they will forgive it - they have an emotional connection with your company
4 WAYS TO ACHIEVE CUSTOMER LOYALTY
1. DO SOMETHING OVER THE TOP, NOW AND THEN
- Imagine walking up to your favorite fast food restaurant, and an employee meets you, opens the door for you, and walks you to the cashier, introducing you to 'Lucy, she's going to make sure everything goes great for you today". Nice experience, right? Before you say it's too expensive for that fast food restaurant to set that up, how many times out of 50 would it take for you to be impressed by this restaurant - maybe just once? Whatever your industry, taking that occasional extra step builds an emotional connection with your customer, and builds loyalty and word of mouth.
2. RECOVER SERVICE, AND DON'T GIVE UP ON BAD SITUATIONS
- We all make mistakes - how we respond to them says a lot about the kind of service organization you are operating. Ask yourself, what percentage of initially upset customers turn around and are happy about your service. If that percentage is low, reset your expectations for yourself on how you respond to customer complaints. Loyalty is closely related to trust - when you take a bad situation and make it right, the customer believes you will solve problems when they come up, and they trust you. When that customer is yelling at you, instead of letting your blood pressure rise....take on the challenge being presented to turn that customer into a fan!
3. MAKE YOURSELF (AND YOUR EMPLOYEES) REACHABLE
- Customers think the worst when they get your voicemail. Quick callbacks establish a Wow factor for your customers, and it also builds trust (I know I can reach them when something comes up, they won't leave me hanging). And think about how to get a live person on the phone as much as possible. Small or one person operations should think about a virtual assistant service to take overflow calls that would otherwise go to voicemail (especially if you are going to be offline for awhile). Larger organizations can create teams to cover for employees who are out, or tied up for part of the day.
4. IT'S ALL ABOUT CULTURE
- How would you describe your corporate culture? If you know this and it's just what you want, great! If not, read on. Every company has a culture (even small businesses). You can shape your culture to be what you want it to be - low cost, high quality, fast and efficient, customer is always right, etc. Here are some steps to shape your culture:
Create a company vision - this can be a one page document with a vision statement (we strive to create fans who tell their friends about us by.....), values (integrity, service culture, etc.), and some key expectations for how you treat your customers. Train your employees on customer loyalty - even short sessions, or morning meetings, are a great opportunity to remind your team why you exist - to take care of customers. Set goals that are customer oriented (retention percentage, rate of new business that comes from referrals, customer survey results).