The ABC of customer loyalty

Loyalty is such a beautiful powerful word: “faithful adherence to a leader or a cause”, commitment, fidelity.

Many times in business we talk about loyalty: employee loyalty, customer loyalty, vendor loyalty. We commit to adhere to policies and company culture. We commit to perform and achieve results, to serve the customers and to contribute to the company’s growth.

Then we work on action plans, business strategies, branding, marketing and advertising, operational budgets, building and developing effective teams.

We know that the goal is to increase the numbers by 15% this year and we take this quote to heart quote: “If you build it, he will come” (from the movie Field of Dreams – 1989). We focus on how to attract our customer, how to make them want us, need us, buy from us.

We want to be in the front line, so we study our competition: price our products or services in the same range, come up with better promotions that our neighbors’, work on our associates’ product knowledge, do tons of advertising and work all the social media channels that we possibly can.

Well, we have done all our due diligence and guess what? The customers came. Yay!

But…was the customer happier in his way out that he was in his way in? WILL THIS CUSTOMER COME BACK? Were you able to provide a trustworthy, pleasant and captivating environment for your customer?

Considering the amount of work that you and your whole team had to do to bring the customer in, it will become quite expensive, time-consuming and exhausting to need to repeat the same process all the time because you are not able to captivate the customer, to gain the customer’s loyalty.

So, how can you make sure that your customer will be loyal to your company?

After 20 years building businesses, managing relationships and developing talents, I have some insights that I believe are worth sharing:

1- Recruit the right people: if you need someone that “connects quickly” with customers and make them feel comfortable, hire someone “likable”. I know it sounds shallow and goes against all those HR rules and full-page job descriptions, with detailed “desirable skills”, but believe me, a Master’s degree and 5 years of experience will not guarantee that this person can lead a happy and enthusiastic environment and engage your customer in absolutely any kind of conversation, and actually make the customer “need something” that he/she had not even thought about…Diplomas and certificates do not increase EQ.

On the down side, do not depend on one awesome associate only, because one can take all her/his clientele with them if they switch companies.

2- Product or service knowledge is also vital. Of course they need to know what they are selling, however, I believe that this piece anyone can learn.

3- Create a “wow” culture in your company: every customer deserves a “wow experience”, every employee deserves a “wow leader, wow guidance and development”, your peers deserve a “wow workplace”.

4- Have the customers’ needs ALWAYS in mind: they need your attention, promptness, dependability, enthusiasm – ALWAYS!

5- Focus on the small things: does your customer really like coffee? Why not have her favorite one waiting for her next time she visits you? Make them feel at home.

6- Do you think your customers always needs to win? Think again. They want a FAIR outcome. Most of the times, if you can work with a customer and show one that the outcome is really a win-win, you will actually make them happy.

7- Each one of your customers is special. Make them feel that way.

8- They need your service to be available. Your customer called because he has a flat and cannot pick up those 5 suits that he ordered from you and he really needs one for tonight’s award ceremony? Take them to his place. Deliver! Did he buy the suits from you but they are way too long? Partner with a tailor and take care of it!

9- Take action. Your customer might not have the time for you to ask your boss, who would ask his boss and so on. Some risks have to be embraced. Make your customer happy (they know and value the risks that you take for them).

10- Enjoy what you do. Sounds silly? It is not. If you enjoy what you do, you will have a competitive advantage – maybe not on price, or promotions, or maybe your service is not the faster, but the customer will come back because of the experience.

At the end of the day, that’s it. All about the experience. That’s what loyalty really is. Your customer is loyal to you because you are loyal to him, to fulfill his needs. Because he feels important, valued and worthy.

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