"It's over." "We're done." "We've lost them." These are all phrases that are hopefully never said when it comes to your customers. Developing customer loyalty consists of an ongoing relationship filled with innovation, cooperation, and ultimate satisfaction; however, assuming that a customer is satisfied could create a false sense of loyalty. In order to build extreme customer loyalty, a company must continually develop themselves to fulfill the needs and desires of their customers.
The best way to build customer loyalty is to find common ground with your customers. When speaking to a person who shares common interests with you, the flow of communication is less complex and more enjoyable. And when speaking to customers who are well aligned with the company's values and dealings, the business-customer relationship will continue to flourish.
One of the first steps in creating customer loyalty is to build emotional dependence. The customer should feel as though they can fully rely on the company and/or the organization to fulfill every aspect of their needs and to trust that the company has their best interests in mind. In order to accomplish this, the company needs to understand what their customers value most, go beyond their expectations, and respond to their feedback in a prompt manner.
Another key factor in building customer loyalty is for the customer to understand and appreciate the operations of the business that they are working with. Having common knowledge as to who all the customers are corresponding with, what occurs behind the scenes, and how products are being distributed helps customers to gain insight that is key in strengthening their loyalty.
For example, to keep prices down, do you have a lean production timeline and limited overhead? Or to charge a premium, do you put the highest quality resources and ingredients into your products? And to appeal to an ever-growing segment of eco-conscious consumers, can you boast a green operation with a minimal carbon footprint?
Creating business dependence is very important for the company-customer relationship. Relying on each other's strengths will both increase the level of interaction and trust between the company and customer. The relationship becomes somewhat symbolic of a checks-and-balances system, ultimately allowing for each side to identify opportunities that are arising that will continue to help grow both the company and the consumer’s success.
Being aware of the company-consumer relationship is a strong indication of where the relationship is headed. Paying attention to how satisfied your customers are will also inform you of whether or not your company's performance level is effective. It is important to first identify if expectations are being met and even more important to then use this information to find ways to exceed future expectations. To maximize your performance potential, research what customers will accept at the minimum level and also identify what would exceed their expectations. Good tools that measure performance levels are the ISO and Six Sigma assessments.
In order to create and maintain customer loyalty, it is important to align with and tailor to the needs of your consumers in every way possible. It is important for the company and customer to have a common ground in both their mission and values, expectations, and workplace culture; the closer the alignment between the two, the more loyalty that is shared.
By recognizing the importance of these loyalty-building tools, your company will be able to create a stronger, more trusted organization with whom your consumers feel they can fully rely on when it comes to dealing with business and partnerships. For more on customer loyalty, be sure to read the Profiles International Management Journal.
Original content by: Erica Benken
Source: Profiles International