Customer loyalty comes down to one essential idea: you and your customer must share the same goal. You might see yourself as the friendly sales person reaching down to fulfill the company’s need, but this hierarchical perspective will not lend itself to customer loyalty. Remember that it’s cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones. A satisfied customer does not guarantee a repeat customer. So how do you and your customer get on the same page?
Use this cheat sheet to develop links to a common cause with your customers so that they will not only be satisfied but loyal, too.
1. Inspire emotional dependance.
Seeking out what your customers care about and knowing how to make them happy will help them learn to rely on you. If you can empathize with your customers, they will want to seek your help in future situations. Empathy is an emotional response stronger than pity or sympathy because it implies that you know what your customers are experiencing. Understanding their feelings puts you and your customers on equal footing so that they will see you as an ally rather than a threat. When your customers can count on you to solve their problems, they will be hesitant to break a relationship that could be difficult to find elsewhere.
For example, Ritz-Carlton hotels are known for their habit of providing guests with hometown papers in the morning rather than a generic USA Today. This simple gesture shows that they care about their customers as individuals. Emotional dependence is all about building a deeper connection and inspiring a psychological commitment.
2. Create structural and business dependance.
Work together with your customer to strengthen each other. If you know what your customers value, you will be able to recognize where they fall short in reaching their goals. Look for weaknesses where you can fill in the gap. This will create a return on investment for the both of you. Structural dependence will ingrain a sense of customer loyalty because their organizations will have difficulty functioning without you.
Developing business dependence will also help you create value toward a mutual goal. This means using each other’s strengths to help both of you. For example, when Apple first launched the iPhone, AT&T entered into an exclusive distribution agreement. Apple was able to use AT&T’s retail network and AT&T profited from the increase in customers.
3. Satisfy your customers' needs.
While a satisfied customer does not always become a loyal customer, dissatisfaction will drive customers away. Use surveys and questionnaires to gauge customer preferences and opinions. If you treat your customers as equals and care for them like friends, they will probably rate you highly on customer service. Remember your delivery and attitude must match or exceed the quality of your product or service.
It is also good to consider performance. Make sure that you meet industry standards in the factors that matter most to your customers. Create or provide the best service or product for your specific customers. Do your customers care more about delivery speeds or costs? Find out what suits their needs and preferences and the best for your target audience. Remember that not everyone may be suited to be your customer. Both satisfaction and performance are important but neither is the sole predictor of customer loyalty.
Customer loyalty is about building long term relationships. It’s not a chase for one time leads but a commitment to building sustained alliances. Keeping this perspective will show your customers that you care about them as much than just another number in this quarter’s profits. You can make customer loyalty more personal by having more than one source within each company. This will help you gain a wider perspective on customer satisfaction and needs. Remember that you must continue to learn about your customers to maintain customer loyalty.
Source: Profiles International
How have you built or maintained customer loyalty? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.