How To Maintain Customer Loyalty
By Mark Wardell @MarkWardell | March 1, 2012
It’s said that when the customer comes first, the customer comes back. This is so true, yet so many businesses fail to put their customers first, opting instead to put their own “fine print” above the needs of their customer. The unfortunate result? They lose out on repeat business. Not only with that one customer, but with that customer’s network of friends and family as well. Lets face it: word travels fast.
Don’t let this be you. Here are the four top ways you can restructure your business to attract and retain the loyalty of your customers.
- Give your customers a reason to appreciate you – with every interaction.
To ensure every customer feels like a VIP customer, every time they do business with you, you’ll need to train and incent your employees to provide great, memorable service. It helps if your business is entrenched in a culture of excellent customer service, but if it’s not yet there, you can begin moving in the right direction by putting in place training manuals and systems that encourage excellent service at every point of contact with customers. On an ongoing basis, meet with your staff to review customer scenarios and brainstorm ways to provide better experiences.
- Don’t let the little things add up to big things.
If you focus on the details of your customer’s experience, you won’t have to worry about the big things (like losing them to a competitor). People are amazed by and appreciative of small and thoughtful touches because they happen so rarely these days. For example, sending a thank you card or a making a follow-up call to make sure your customer is happy with her purchase. Take it to the next level: have someone stop by with a small thank-you gift that relates to your customer’s purchase, such as a maintenance kit for the machine she just bought from you.
- Learn from the best in the world (not just from your industry).
At a Ritz Carlton Hotel, for example, when a customer has a complaint or a problem, the employee who receives the problem, “owns” the problem. That employee is accountable for solving that customer’s problem, even if it has nothing to do with them. As a result, Ritz customers feel appreciated and taken care of. What other great customer service ideas can you pick up from other businesses?
- Always put your customer ahead of the sale.
When you do this, you secure a life-long customer rather than simply make a short-term sale. Here’s an example to help illustrate this point. My colleague and his wife recently rented a car while on holidays. They were asked by the customer service rep if they would both be driving the vehicle, said yes, were given the keys and drove away. However, upon returning the car, they noticed an extra charge on their bill for an “additional driver”. They questioned the rep, explaining that they hadn’t been informed there would be an extra charge, and if they had they would have opted for only one driver. His response: “The charges are explained in the fine print of your contract…it’s right there in black and white.”
Yes, it was right there in the fine print- that nobody reads. Unfortunately for that company they just lost two great customers. And now I know about it, proving my point that word travels fast.
One of the most important ways you can shift the focus of your business is to develop a customer service approach that does indeed put your customers above your fine print. Remember, it’s far more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to generate new ones. So do everything in your power to keep the customers you already have and you’ll be well on your way to success. You may even find all those happy customers end up doing your advertising for you.