My financial advisor announced he was moving to a different firm. This is a guy I trust. He understands the financial markets and investments. More importantly, he understands me. When he left, I was faced with a decision on what to do. The answer was simple: I followed him to the new firm.
My wife has been going to the same hair stylist for years. The stylist has moved to different salons several times, and each and every time my wife follows her. A talented, well-trained, personable, and experienced stylist who is dedicated to doing his or her best work every time will create an astounding level of customer loyalty. That’s why women will follow a stylist around, sometimes driving miles out of their way for appointments.
The examples above illustrate the power of creating true customer or client loyalty. In both cases, my wife and I were loyal to individuals. However they could just as easily have been businesses.
Loyalty happens within the context of a relationship. I may like a certain brand of chocolate, but I’m loyal to my hometown baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. I’ll eat other chocolates, but I’ll never root for any other ball club.
Here are a few questions to ponder when it comes to loyalty:
- If you moved to a different company, would your customers follow you?
- If you or your company moved to a less-than-convenient location, would your customers be willing to drive a little out of their way to continue to do business with you?
- If you raised your price – still competitive, but definitely not close to the lowest price – would your customers keep buying from you?
Give the customer a reason to do business with you – be it your customer service, the quality of your product, your expertise, the value you and/or your product provides. Ideally, it would be a combination of all these factors. Demonstrate to your customers why they should keep coming back.
A consistent and predictable experience creates customer confidence, which in turn can lead to loyalty. But there’s a further step which I call evangelism. This is loyalty on “steroids.” It’s where your customers “sing” your praises to their colleagues, friends and family members. This should be the goal of every individual and organization.
Earning customer loyalty should be a 24/7 commitment. But that effort is highlighted in April during Customer Loyalty Month. Think of it as a “renewing of our vows.”
In recognition of Customer Loyalty Month, here are five ways to deepen your relationships with your customers:
- Express your gratitude. Sometimes sending a card, an email or calling to say thanks is the little extra expression of gratitude it takes to build a stronger relationship that shows you appreciate the business you do with your customers.
- Share information that benefits your customers. Reach out and share information about how to best use your products and services. Don’t make this promotional, but truly value-added. Perhaps your customers have written in with ideas on how they are using your products. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about what you sell, as long as it is relevant to the customer. It creates a more personal interaction between you and your customer.
- Make your customers’ problems your problems. This isn’t about a complaint. This is about real problem solving. How can you help your customers save money, be more efficient or be more successful? Don’t wait for your customer to come to you. When a company is so committed to their customers that they are proactive at solving problems, then they are moving into the area of partnership, which is an even deeper level of loyalty.
- Assess the level of excitement and enthusiasm in your workplace, and work to improve it (or, if it is high, sustain it). If you don’t have employees who are excited and committed to working for you, it will be difficult to achieve customer loyalty. Engaged and fulfilled employees will work harder to take care of the company and the customers. One of my favorite expressions is, “What’s happening on the inside of the organization is felt on the outside by the customer.”
- Measure and survey. The old saying is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. If you don’t already do so, perhaps it’s time to survey your customers. How much do they love you (or not)? How likely are they to recommend you to others? Make the effort to show your customers that you value them enough to ask for their opinion. Add another layer of proof and, once the surveys come back, let the customers know how you plan to change and enhance their experience.
These five ideas are relevant throughout the year – you don’t have to wait until Customer Loyalty Month to implement them. This month should be used to rededicate yourself to creating a level of customer loyalty that will make you the envy of your industry.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and New York Times bestselling author. Find more information at www.Hyken.com.
This article was written by Shep Hyken from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.