“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”  ~Jeffrey Gitomer

It really shouldn’t be very difficult.  If you want to keep customers coming back over and over, just give ‘em what they want, right? Well, yes and no.

Customer loyalty is becoming more and more important because the competition is now global, not just local.  It is easier and easier to find competitors just a click away at the speed of the internet.  And trust me, your customers know it.

Consider these statistics:

  • It costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one
  • On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase
  • News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.

So it is definitely in your favor to do everything you can to create brand and customer loyalty.

It should be the goal of every business to create “An Exceptional Experience that Exceeds Expectations”.  How is that accomplished on a daily basis?

The first step is to be your own customer.  Actually walk in your customers shoes and see and experience what they see and experience.  How easy is it to navigate your website? Are your prices competitive? If your customers have questions, how long does it take you to answer an email or return a phone call? Is your store clean and safe?  Are your clothes clean and your breath fresh? (Sorry, that was memories of my mother in my ear).

The second step is to get feedback from your customers to make sure you are meeting (or exceeding) their expectations.  Talk to them in person, ask them to fill out a survey and offer them something in return.  When you do get a complaint, thank your lucky stars and act on it.  Remember, for every customer who bothers to complain, nearly 26 others remain silent. And they will most likely walk out the door and never return. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)

The third step is to create a program that promotes loyalty. Give them a reason or incentive to return.  There are many ways to accomplish this: frequent shopper points, buy 2 get one free deals, rebates, gift cards or special added services.  With the rapid speed of technology, there are apps that can be created to track dollars spent and easier ways to offer rewards.  Make sure to coordinate your loyalty program with your marketing efforts.  Collect email addresses so they can be the first to know about a new product or service.

Remember these pointers:

  • Connect with your customers on a personal level.  Try to learn their names. Stay in touch with a newsletter, a reminder card, or holiday card.
  • Be consistent and reliable.
  • Be flexible.  Each customer is a unique individual.
  • Have real conversations and be willing to recommend your competitors if you cannot serve them fully to the best of your ability.
  • Be accountable if things go wrong, which inevitably they will.  Follow up and follow through quickly and correctly the first time.
  • Have integrity.  Be willing to fire the customer if their demands are not in line with your values or principles.
  • Make sure you build employee loyalty by treating and training them right.  Give them the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Customers may not remember all the details of their transactions and interactions with you, but they will remember one very important thing: how you made them feel!  Make sure they feel great doing business with you and they will be around for a long time.  Companies thrive and grow because of repeat business and customer loyalty.

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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